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Supreme Court of Errors
Attorney Wesley W. HortonSignificant Connecticut Supreme Court Cases Through The Years
Attorney Wesley W. Horton
November 2010


  1. Symsbury Case, Kirby 444 (1785) (The first reported New World case declaring a statute unconstitutional.)

  2. Nancy Jackson v. Bullock, 12 Conn. 38 (1837) (Slave brought to Connecticut to serve slave-owner’s family freed.  Note:  In 1837 Connecticut was still a slave state.) 

  3. Webster v. Town of Harwinton, 32 Conn. 131 (1864) (Towns have no inherent powers.) 

  4. In re Mary Hall, 50 Conn. 131 (1882) (First case in the United States decided by an appellate court where a woman won the right to practice law.) 

  5. State ex rel. Morris v. Bulkeley, 61 Conn. 287 (1891) (Refusal to decide who won the 1890 election for Governor.) 

  6. Norwalk Street Ry. Co.’s Appeal, 69 Conn. 576 (1897) (Each branch of government has only those powers granted by the state constitution.) 

  7. Town of Windsor v. Whitney, 95 Conn. 357 (1920) (First zoning case in the United States holding that setting building lines is not a confiscation of private property.) 

  8. State v. Nelson, 126 Conn. 412 (1940) (Connecticut’s anti-contraception statute is held to be constitutional.) (Note:  This decision eventually led to Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965), effectively overruling NelsonGriswold led to Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973).) 

  9. Horton v. Meskill, 172 Conn. 615 (1977) (Connecticut’s school finance system forcing town to rely mostly on the local property tax violated the rights of children in property-poor towns to an equal educational opportunity.) 

  10. Sheff v. O’Neill, 238 Conn. 1 (1996) (De facto racial segregation in the Hartford metropolitan area public schools violates the right of children in such towns to an equal educational opportunity.) 

  11. Kelo v. New London, 268 Conn. 1 (2004), affirmed, 545 U.S. 469 (2005) (Condemnation of private property for conveyance to another private property owner to accomplish a public purpose is a proper use of the state’s power.) 

  12. Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health, 289 Conn. 135 (2008) (Gay couples have a state constitutional right to marry.)


Supreme Court of ErrorsWhere The Supreme Court Sat
Attorney Wesley W. Horton
November 2010

The Connecticut Supreme Court (called the Supreme Court of Errors until 1965) was created by statute in 1784.  From then until 1819, it sat in June of even-numbered years in the Old State House in Hartford, and it sat in June of odd-numbered years in a state house that no longer exists in New Haven. 

In 1819, the Supreme Court began hearing cases also in courthouses in the other six counties.  In New London County, the court sat at New London and Norwich; in Fairfield County, at Fairfield and Danbury; in Windham County, at Brooklyn; in Litchfield County, at Litchfield; in Middlesex Country, at Middletown and Haddam; and in Tolland County, at Tolland.  This system remained essentially unchanged (except that Bridgeport replaced Fairfield around 1854) until 1866. 

From 1866 until 1931, the Supreme Court sat only in Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and Norwich.  (While there were five justices during most of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, from 1859-1863 and 1867-1870 there were only four.)  From 1878, when the present Capitol was opened, until 1910, the Supreme Court sat (whenever it sat in Hartford) in what is now the Old Judiciary Room in the Capitol.  On December 1, 1910, the present Supreme Court building was opened.  It heard its first case in this building on January 3, 1911. 

Since 1931, with occasional one-day-only exceptions, the Supreme Court has sat only in the building expressly built for it across from the Capitol in Hartford.

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