Connecticut State Library with state seal

Memorials of Connecticut Judges and Attorneys
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports
volume 228 , page(s) 931-933


January 11, 1994

Before we begin to hear today's cases we pause to honor a distinguished member of this court. Barring unforeseen circumstances, this is the last term of court during which Justice G. Santaniello will be sitting as a senior associate justice to hear cases with this court. On May 28, 1994, Justice Santaniello will celebrate his seventieth birthday and begin yet another new phase in his extensive and illustrious career as a public servant.

Justice Santaniello attended local schools in New London until he left for Worcester, Massachusetts, and his beloved College of Holy Cross. After graduation and a brief stint as a teacher, he decided to explore new vistas in the law and enrolled at Georgetown University Law School, from which he graduated in 1950. Fifteen years later, on January 1, 1966, Attorney Santaniello became Judge Santaniello. His extensive judicial career included the Circuit Court, the Court of Common Pleas, and then appointment as a judge of the Superior Court. In that capacity, he undertook many important responsibilities including, simultaneously, being Chief Administrative Judge of the Civil Division and Administrative Judge of the New London judicial district.

On February 8, 1985 Judge Santaniello became Justice Santaniello of the Connecticut Supreme Court. As an Associate Justice and later as a Senior Associate Justice of this court he has written more than 100 majority opinions. Two memorable examples are State v. Graham, in which we discarded the common law rule prohibiting a party from impeaching his own witnesses, and Daily v. New Britain Machine Co., in which we upheld legislative authority to enact a restrictive statute of limitations despite the open courts provision of our state constitution. One of his rare dissents, Petyan v. Ellis, expressed his serious concern about the undesirability affording judicial immunity to misstatements made by employers contesting unemployment compensation claims. Beyond his role as an author of particular opinions, however, Justice Santaniello has always been an especially effective voice for sensitivity and moderation, whether he writes independently or concurs in the opinions of others. His singular contribution to the court has been his uncanny ability to create goodwill in the conference room. In all our joint deliberations, he has gracefully and effectively strengthened our collegial capacity to resolve the controversial questions on our multifaceted agendas with the right blend of mutual respect and intellectual rigor.

Most of us move through our professional lives in seriatim fashion-first concentrating on one aspect of our careers, and then on another. Justice Santaniello, however, thrives in a polyphasic universe-seemingly content only in being challenged in several areas at the same time. Since April 1, 1987, when he took senior status, he has continued to sit with this court on a monthly basis, always willing to contribute to the writing of opinions. At the same time, he has spearheaded the Supreme Court on Circuit program, enabling us semiannually to have our court sessions serve as educational programs for students throughout the state. Of course, he has also brought his wisdom and experience to bear on innumerable other Judicial Branch committees and projects.

But it is in the area of the preargument settlement conference program that Justice Santaniello's talents are legendary! Following the adage that "there is no case like a settled case," he has designed and manages a preargument program that is the envy of my colleagues in other states. Aided by a cadre of retired justices and judges many of whom he has himself instructed in settlement techniques, Justice Santaniello's negotiating and administrative skills have energized a program that currently boasts a 44 percent settlement rate!

He has brought to this all the extraordinary skills for which he is justly admired throughout the state: a patient and compassionate understanding of the underlying legal issues and unparalleled persistence in meeting personally and repeatedly with counsel and with their clients. In response to nationwide requests for information about our settlement program, it is my delightful responsibility repeatedly to describe this great success story-although I am always careful to warn my counterparts that it will not be easy to find another Justice Santaniello!

I speak on behalf of every member of the Judicial Branch in thanking you, Justice Santaniello, for your many years of faithful service in the past and for your cheerful willingness to continue, as ever, to play an important role in public service as a state trial referee and as a founding father of the new Sta-Fed project. Nonetheless, perhaps you and your wife Kay will at last be able to enjoy some more leisure time together, in good health and with the happy satisfaction that comes from a life well spent! Our best wishes go with you, wherever you are!