Connecticut Judge Joseph J. Purtill, who oversaw an array of criminal, civil, family and juvenile cases over a 35-year career on the bench, has died. He was 86.
Purtill’s family says he died Tuesday at a rehabilitation center in Mystic after a brief illness.
“We’ve lost a very wise and humble servant,” Emmet L. Cosgrove, chief administrative judge for the New London Judicial District, told the New London Day.
The Stonington resident was appointed a Superior Court judge in 1979 and worked in the New London, Hartford and New Haven courthouses. He handled some proceedings involving serial killer Michael Ross, who was executed in 2005.
He continued hearing cases up until recently as a judge trial referee.
Purtill spent the bulk of his judicial career presiding over criminal matters. “He was right to the point in his decisions, whether he ruled in favor of you or not,” said New London State’s Attorney Michael L. Regan.
The Navy and Marine Corps veteran served in the state legislature from 1959 to 1961 and was Stonington’s town clerk from 1963 to 1979.
Purtill will be buried with military honors Friday at St. Michael Cemetery in Stonington.
Judge Elliot N. Solomon, the state’s deputy chief court administrator, said Purtill’s passing is a great loss to the Connecticut judiciary. “He heard criminal, civil, family and juvenile matters throughout a distinguished career of 35 years on the bench,” Solomon said. “Although he presided over many high-profile matters, Judge Purtill understood that every case was important to the people involved and handled each matter with dignity and respect for all involved.”