Preserving the Past, Informing the Future
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Ernest Alexander Inglis was born in Middletown, Connecticut, on April 16, 1887. He lived in that community all his life. His lineage was Scotch, and he exhibited throughout all his days the sturdy, sound characteristics of that hardy race of men. In school he was a diligent and excellent student. He was graduated from the Middletown High School in 1904 and from Wesleyan University in 1908, where he achieved his excellent scholarship record, graduating Phi Beta Kappa. He entered the Yale Law School that fall and was graduated with a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1911. While at Yale, he showed the same excellence in his studies as he had shown in his undergraduate days. This was recognized by his appointment to be chairman of the Yale Law Journal board.
Judge Inglis married Agnes Thompson of Middletown, a Wesleyan graduate in the class of 1910. They had five children: Henry Thompson lnglis, Wesleyan '37; Mrs. Marion Inglis Waring; Mrs. Jean Inglis Law; Mrs. Dorothy Inglis Pritchard; and Ernest A. Inglis, Jr., Wesleyan '49, presently a practicing attorney at the Connecticut Bar. At the time of Judge lnglis' death there were nine grandchildren.
Judge Inglis was admitted to the Bar in Middlesex County in 1911. He engaged in active practice in association with Frank D. Haines, later an Associate Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. The practice was of the general type in a town such as Middletown. Judge Inglis was an excellent trial lawyer. This was recognized by his appointment as state's attorney for Middlesex County, an office which he discharged with courage and energy. He was a well-known figure throughout the county and earned the respect and affection of a large circle of friends and admirers, not only for his ability as a lawyer but also because of his broad humanitarian interests.
Judge Inglis was appointed to the Superior Court bench in 1930. His fellow members on the Bench and at the Bar considered him eminently qualified, as indeed he was. He presided over many important trials. He was assigned by the Chief Justice to preside over the state's longest and one of its most notorious criminal cases, the trial of several prominent Waterbury political figures accused, and subsequently convicted, of defrauding the city. His conduct during the nine months of this long and difficult trial fixed him as a jurist of stature. Wesleyan awarded him the degree of Doctor of Civil Laws in 1943, and Doctor of Laws in 1954.
In 1950 Judge Inglis became an Associate Justice on the state Supreme Court. He was appointed Chief Justice in 1953, a post he held until his retirement in 1957. His opinions while a member of the appellate court were carefully and studiously prepared. It was his custom to write them out in longhand. His final result was so perfectly written and composed that a typist was able to complete a draft to be submitted for the examination and consideration of his four associate justices. That he was a diligent student of the law is apparent also in the preparation of the many briefs of cases he argued in the Supreme Court, and of the memorandums of decision he wrote as a trial judge. His associates and the members of the Bar considered him one of the outstanding judges of all time in the state of Connecticut.
He took an active part in church and community affairs. For many years he was a Deacon of the South Congregational Church in Middletown and a regular attendant at its services. From 1932 to 1959 he was a trustee of Wesleyan University. He attended regularly meetings of the board and of the committees upon which he served. His knowledge and judgment were invaluable to the University.
Judge Inglis was a man who lived very much for his family. He and his wife, Agnes, believed that a happy and well-ordered home was a basic element in our society. Their home was an exemplification of that belief.
Judge Inglis was a friendly man, not effusive in his manner, but genuinely interested in his fellowmen and particularly in his associates on the bench and in the members of the Bar. As a trial judge, he presided with dignity. His rulings from the bench were made without hesitation. There were few appeals from his decisions because he was capable of administering justice acceptable to counsel and litigants alike. Those who had known him over many years could not recall a single instance when, in the heat of trial, in his service on the bench, or in contact with his fellowman, he ever lost his temper. He was a sound lawyer in every way, but he never pretended to exhibit the width and depth of his legal knowledge.
After his retirement as Chief Justice on April 16, 1957, he continued his judicial services for several years until declining health brought an end to his judicial activities. During his later life he was plagued with failing eyesight, and his eyesight totally failed him several years before his death. Yet he bore this tragic infirmity with great courage. Never a word of complaint passed his lips. He died in Middletown on December 9, 1972. His beloved wife and life's companion, Agnes, predeceased him on June 6, 1970. During their lifetimes they were admired and respected as outstanding leading citizens of the community and the state. They have left an example of noble living which will be long remembered by the host of friends who will miss them always. Judge Inglis' memory will be revered ever as that of a good man in the broadest sense of these two simple words.