Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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After completing ninety-three years of a very full and active life, Frank David Haines, formerly a justice of the Supreme Court of Errors, died on January 20, 1959.
Justice Haines was born in Colchester, Connecticut, on January 16, 1866. He was the son of David Haines and Amanda Taylor Haines. He was brought up on his father's farm and in that environment he developed the sturdiness of body and mind which characterized him throughout his life. After attending Bacon Academy in Colchester, he left that town in 1883 and went to Middletown, where he obtained work as a bookkeeper, first for a wholesale paper dealer and then very shortly for C. E. Jackson and Company, dealers in securities. He married Nellie Emeline Burke in 1887 and they lived happily together for sixty-two years until her death in 1955. Two sons were born to them. The elder, Elmer, has survived his father, but the younger, Warren, died while in military service in 1918.
In 1890, when Justice Haines was twenty-four years of age, he courageously gave up his place with the Jackson company in order to begin the study of law. He studied in the law office of M. Eugene Culver for two years and then persuaded Dean Francis Wayland to permit him to enrol as a senior in Yale Law School. He was graduated from Yale Law School in 1893 and at once commenced the practice of law in Middletown in partnership with his former instructor, Mr. Culver. This partnership, however, was terminated very shortly when, in 1895, Governor O. Vincent Coffin appointed Justice Haines executive secretary. In 1897, when he ceased to be executive secretary, he resumed the practice of law in his own office in Middletown. He engaged in general practice for the next twenty-one years very successfully, and for at least the last decade of that time he was beyond challenge the leading lawyer in Middlesex County. Early in his career, he served for two years as county liquor prosecutor for Middlesex County and later, in 1904, he was appointed state's attorney for that county. In that office he established a reputation for fairness. He was a vigorous prosecutor when occasion demanded it, but he never hesitated to nolle a case when he thought that the evidence did not warrant a conviction.
From early in his career in the law, Haines's aspiration was to become a judge in the higher courts of the state, and this ambition was satisfied when, on August 30, 1918, he started to serve on the Superior Court. As a trial judge he was universally respected - both by the members of the bar and by the general public. To a high degree he possessed what is commonly called the judicial temperament. Because of his training as a bookkeeper, he enjoyed hearing cases that involved accounting either directly or indirectly, but in any sort of case he had the ability to get at the heart of the issues, to weigh the testimony accurately and to reason his way through to the proper conclusion. These abilities served him well in his work on the trial bench and they, plus a sound foundation in the law, an industriousness in research and a facility in writing straightforward, clear English, made him a great appellate judge when he was advanced to the Supreme Court of Errors on October 18, 1925. He served on the latter court until January 16, 1936, when the constitutional age limitation required his retirement. For more than ten years after that he was active as a state referee and thoroughly enjoyed his work in that capacity.
No sketch of Justice Haines's life would give a true picture of the man without at least a brief mention of some of his activities outside the courts. Early in his career he was president of the Middletown Young Men's Christian Association. For many years he was active in the affairs of The First Church of Christ, Congregational, in Middletown, and after he moved to Portland in 1910, he was equally active in the affairs of Trinity Church, Episcopal, in that town. For several years he served on the board of education of the Middletown City School District and was for a time president of that board. He was a director of the Connecticut Industrial School for Girls, a trustee or corporator of the Middletown Savings Bank from 1906 until his death, a director of it from 1913 to 1918, and a director of several other corporations prior to his going on the bench. He was a member of the commission which revised the General Statutes in 1918. He received two honorary degrees from Wesleyan University, an M.A. in 1914 and an L.L.D. in 1927.
Justice Haines had one hobby; he loved to fish, particularly for trout. Until recent years he generally managed to be on one of his favorite trout brooks early on the morning when the trout season opened.
In summary, Justice Haines was an active, able lawyer, an excellent judge and a well-rounded man. He was the personification of integrity both in thought and action. He held the respect and affection of all who knew him.