Former Connecticut Chief Justice Robert J. Callahan, who served on the state's highest court for 14 years, has died. He was 82.
Callahan died New Year's Day at Norwalk Hospital in the company of his wife, Dorothy, and eight children, his son Robert J. Callahan Jr. said Wednesday. He had suffered from Parkinson's disease, his son said.
Callahan retired in 1999 after serving as chief justice for three years. He became a member of the state Supreme Court in 1985 after serving as a prosecutor for the Norwalk City Court and the circuit court and as a circuit court and superior court judge.
"Chief Justice Callahan made a lasting impact in Connecticut, serving nearly fifteen years on the Supreme Court and authoring hundreds of opinions that have had a profound impact on the laws of our state," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement. "His leadership skills and humor guided the court through several difficult cases, always with honest reasoning and judgment."
As chief justice, Callahan also led an initiative to improve trust and confidence in the state courts and to reorganize court services.
Connecticut's current Chief Justice Chase Rogers told the Hartford Courant that Callahan was "a hardworking, diligent judge who did not think of cases as 'big' or 'small.' What mattered most to him is that the case was important to the parties."
The Norwalk native graduated from Boston College in 1952 and Fordham University Law School in 1955 and later served in the Army. He served twice on the Norwalk Common Council.
The Hour of Norwalk reports Callahan was a gifted athlete who unsuccessfully tried out for the NFL's Chicago Bears after playing as a standout defensive back for Boston College. He coached baseball and basketball teams in the Army and helped organize the Norwalk Athletic Association to start a youth football team.
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