Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 225, page(s) 929


June 10, 1993

Before we begin to hear the final cases scheduled for the current court year, I would like to take the opportunity to honor a very special event in the history of this court. On the first of July, a distinguished member of the Supreme Court will mark an anniversary of unusual significance: twenty years of service as a member of the judiciary of this state. Justice Robert I. Berdon: we salute your extraordinary record of exemplary achievement!

Justice Berdon came to the Superior Court bench after sixteen years as a private practitioner and a successful political career as state treasurer. During his time on the Superior Court he made a name for himself, nationally as well as locally, as a scholar, an educator and a prolific writer. In 1982, he was named Outstanding Jurist by the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and in May, 1991, he received the prestigious Judiciary Award of the Connecticut Bar Association. Almost two years ago we welcomed him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

As an energetic and diligent member of this court, Justice Berdon has written thirty-one majority opinions to date...thirty-one and counting! As is true of all of us, the subject matter of his opinions has ranged broadly over the legal landscape. He has helped to define the appropriate methodology for difficult new issues under the state constitution in a case holding that suppression is the proper remedy for incriminatory statements elicited by the police after an illegal entry into a private home.1 In other important cases, he has explained: why a witness should not be required to invoke his fifth amendment privilege in front of a jury2; when a court may order the exclusion of expert witness testimony as a sanction for nondisclosure of certain evidence3; and the circumstances under which an insurance carrier providing underinsured motorist coverage may not limit its liability by taking credit for payments made to others.4

It is, however, not only as an author of majority opinions that Justice Berdon has made his mark. Fiercely independent, passionately committed to the view that our courts have a wide ranging responsibility to protect the rights of defendants, especially criminal defendants, Justice Berdon has written an extraordinary number of vigorous dissents and concurrences, sixty-three by the most recent official count. These opinions stand as a testament to his intellectual and social conscience and reflect his belief, so well expressed at his swearing in, that "the poor must have adequate legal representation to assure reasonable access to the judicial branch of government in order to protect and preserve their rights...."

Justice Berdon, on behalf of your colleagues on this court and throughout the Judicial Branch, I congratulate you on your many achievements. We applaud your many years of devoted service in the interests of justice for the people of the state of Connecticut. Best of all, we recognize that you will continue to make an important contribution as a member of this court for many years to come!

1 State v. Geisler, 222 Conn. 672, 610 A.2d 1225 (1992).

2 State v. Dennison, 220 Conn. 652, 600 A.2d 1343 (1991).

3 State v. Genotti, 220 Conn. 796, 601 A.2d 1013 (1992).

4 Buell v. American Universal Ins., Co., 224 Conn. 766, 621 A.2d 262 (1993); Stephan v. Pennsylvania General Ins. Co., 224 Conn. 758, 621 A.2d 258 (1993)