Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 217, page(s) 813-815

JUSTICE DAVID M. SHEA

REMARKS BY CHIEF JUSTICE ELLEN A. PETERS
TWENTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY ON THE CONNECTICUT BENCH
January 8, 1991

Before we begin to hear the cases scheduled to initiate this year's court calendar, I would like to take this opportunity to honor a very special event in the history of this court. On the first of January, not one but two distinguished members of this court marked an anniversary of unusual distinction: twenty-five years of service as members of the judiciary of this state. Senior Associate Justice Angelo G. Santaniello and Associate Justice David M. Shea: we salute your extraordinary record of exemplary achievement!....

Let me turn now to the illustrious judicial career of Justice David M. Shea. On January 1, 1966, Justice Shea was sworn in and became a member of the Superior Court. For fifteen years he served, with distinction, to adjudicate the variety of civil and criminal cases on that court's regular docket and for several years he served as well on its sentence review division and on its appellate session. On November 9, 1981, he was appointed to the Supreme Court, where he is now the senior among our associate justices. Having cheerfully undertaken numerous committee assignments over the years, he currently chairs the Rules Committee, certainly the most demanding of all the committee assignments that any justice can undertake.

Justice Shea's interest in judicial administration pales, however, compared to his consuming interest in the judicial process itself. In his public persona, Justice Shea is invariably well prepared for oral argument, always ready to ask the searching question, always curious about the larger implications as well as the precise contours of the case at bar. Within the court, in conference and in chambers, he is a devoted teacher of his law clerks and an excellent colleague for the bench. For a chief justice, he is a great resource, because he willingly takes on the toughest cases.

I would take up a good part of this morning if I were to attempt to summarize the more than 250 majority opinions that Justice Shea has already written during his tenure on this court. Among the most impressive certainly are Cologne v. Westfarms Associates and State v. Marsala, in which Justice Shea, once for a majority and once for a unanimous court, has helped to define the operational contours of the declaration of rights contained in our state constitution.

In other cases ranging widely across the legal landscape, Justice Shea has written countless important civil and criminal opinions that have helped to illuminate the law governing such diverse topics as environmental controls, foreclosures, public housing, corpus delicti and the competency of child witnesses. Consummately well versed in the law of procedure, Justice Shea has been sensitive both to the strengths and to the weaknesses of appellate dispositions that resolve cases without reaching their substantive merits.

It is, however, not only as an author of majority opinions that Justice Shea has made his mark. Although other members of this court have long felt free to voice their disagreements, Justice Shea's record, already encompassing more than 120 vigorous dissents and concurrences, is not likely to be replicated soon. It is a great testament to Justice Shea's collegial skills that the force of his more than occasional intellectual disagreement has in no way tempered the mutual admiration and respect that he shares with the remainder of the court.

Justice Santaniello and Justice Shea, on behalf of your colleagues on this court and throughout the Judicial Department, I congratulate you on your many achievements. We applaud your many years of dedicated service in the interests of justice for the people of the state of Connecticut. Best of all, we recognize how fortunate we are that we will continue to have the benefit of your judicial services for many years to come! I now declare this brief ceremony closed, and ask the sheriff to open court.

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