Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 76, page(s) 711-712


WILLIAM CULLEN CASE resided all his life in the house in Granby in which he was born February 17th, 1836, with the exception of a few years' residence in Tariffville in Simsbury. He graduated at Yale in 1857; taught school for one year in Harwinton, and then studied law in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, in the office of Rockwell and Colt. He was admitted to the bar in 1860, opened an office in Tariffville, and at once took a prominent position among the lawyers of Hartford county. In 1869, 1870, 1872, 1873 and 1874, he represented Simsbury in the General Assembly, and Granby in 1881 and 1884; and was unanimously elected by the latter town a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1902, but died before the Convention assembled. In 1881 he was speaker of the house, and in 1884 chairman of the judiciary committee and the acknowledged leader of the house. Largely by his efforts the change from yearly to biennial elections and legislative sessions was effected. He held no political offices, though often urged to be a candidate for State senator and representative in Congress. At different times he was offered the position of judge of the Superior Court and judge of the Supreme Court, but declined the appointments.

The discussion of legal principles that had not been distinctly and positively decided was his delight; and for it he was particularly fitted, for in the field of original and logical reasoning he was unsurpassed. It was ever his effort to reduce the matter at issue to its simplest possible form. As a trier of a case he was ready on any question raised, thoroughly informed as to the facts, never at a loss, and never disconcerted. In the direct examination of witness he was clear and forcible; but of cross-examination he was a master, having a method peculiarly his own. He seldom attempted to break down a witness, but generally succeeded in so harmonizing the testimony with his own theory of the case, as to make, if not an additional witness for his own side, at least a witness of no value to his opponent. Skilled in repartee, he never feared, though he never invited, the personal altercations that sometimes arise upon a trial, and in the later years of his practice he passed by all personal remarks as unworthy of the profession. His arguments were masterpieces of logic, and when occasion invited, of wit and pathos, all expressed with perfect diction, and yet so clear that the dullest could comprehend and appreciate. No court room had vacant seats if it were known that he was to speak in an important case. With his varied powers always at command, and magnetic in his personality, he was an advocate sought for in the most difficult and complicated cases, and an opponent always to be feared. No client ever felt that his case was lost through any fault or shortcoming of his counsel. Admittedly the best orator in the State, he treated with respect the intelligence of his audience, and never attempted to befog, but always to clarify, the point at issue. He was a constant reader of the best literature and no literary gem was unknown to him, nor was he ever unable to tell its author. Keen in his insight to character, and wise as to the motives of men, with great heart to guide him, no person really in trouble ever came to him without finding a wise adviser and a sympathetic friend. He died December 21st, 1901.