Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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On July 21, 1952, the state lost an able and outstanding citizen in the death of Miles Francis McNiff. Judge McNiff had retired from the Court of Common Pleas on May 6, 1952, because his health had failed and he felt that he could no longer fully perform his judicial duties with the vigor and thoroughness required by his high standards.
He was born in Waterbury on May 12, 1884, the son of Miles and Catherine Spellman McNiff. He received his early education at the Washington Grammar School and Crosby High School in Waterbury. During the time he attended Crosby High School, where he was graduated in 1902, he was a member of the reporting staff of the "Waterbury American." Later, he became the court reporter for that paper. While in his last year in high school, he began the study of law in the offices of Judge Patrick J. McMahon and James M. Lynch of Waterbury. He was admitted to the practice in 1908.
On February 14, 1906, he was married to Estelle Germaine, daughter of Mr. And Mrs. Alfred G. Germaine of Waterbury. Mrs. McNiff and one son, Miles Francis McNiff, Jr., survive.
Judge McNiff served on the board of education of Waterbury during 1910 and 1911. From 1910 to 1916 he was secretary of the Waterbury Business Men's Association. He was prosecutor of the City Court of Waterbury from 1916 until 1929, when he was appointed deputy judge of the Court of Common Pleas for the judicial district of Waterbury. He served in the capacity until 1941, then becoming a Judge of the statewide Court of Common Pleas.
Judge McNiff was a member of the Waterbury Bar Association, the New Haven County Bar Association, the State Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He was affiliated with St. Joseph's Total Abstinence Society, the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks and the Knights of Columbus. He was a member of St. Margaret's Roman Catholic Church in Waterbury.
Anyone having acquaintance with Judge McNiff immediately concluded that here was a man who placed great emphasis on high ideals, respect for God, respect for his fellow man and charitable consideration of his problems and aims, as well as on the necessity of exercising those so easily forgotten evidences of culture, courtesy, politeness and self control under all circumstances and conditions. To him the practice of law was no entering wedge to an easy living with large financial returns but the practice of a profession wherein the ultimate object was to see that justice between man and man was properly done.
He had a very fine sense of humor and always enjoyed a good story whether he was the subject or not. His genial disposition, coupled with his friendly smile, endeared him to all people with whom he came in contact. To young members of the bar he always extended a friendly and helping hand. Seldom has any lawyer, here or elsewhere, been so universally loved and respected by everyone who knew him. His influence upon the legal profession, particularly the younger men in Waterbury, will live on throughout the years.