Today, January 23, 2012 the CBA and New Haven County Bar Association websites announce the passing of Judge Peter C. Dorsey. The CBA has a link to Judge Dorsey’s obituary which is available here. I clearly remember the first impression Judge Dorsey made on me. It was in the men’s room of a large Hartford firm. An explanation is called for. At the time Bill Cousins had just hired me. Among other things Bill did insurance defense work. He once remarked that he had handled cases involving every possible way in which two cars could have intercourse. Among the other kinds of insurance defense cases Bill handled was one involving a claim that a grown man had been reduced to the mental status of a six year old through long exposure to toxic chemical fumes. As is common in such cases there were numerous defendants. The day came for the deposition of the plaintiff, which was to take place at a large Hartford firm whose name I don’t recall. Defense counsel were to meet prior to the deposition to “discuss strategy.” Bill invited me to tag along so that I could learn. Defense counsel met in a large conference room. Bill sat next to Peter Dorsey. He introduced us. My immediate impression was that Mr. Dorsey seemed like a regular guy. A young man, young by comparison to Bill and to Peter but older than I was, took the lead. He stood at the head of the conference table. I remember he wore suspenders, bright ones. He started off by asking “what we knew about the plaintiff” and “whether we could drain the plaintiff’s treasury” by burying him in paper. I saw Bill and Peter look at each other. Some time later we took a bathroom break. Peter and Bill headed to the men’s room. So did I. We were lined up left to right: Peter, Bill and me. Peter glanced over at Bill and said, “Who is that jerk? We don’t do that sort of thing.” Bill shook his head. I think the word Peter used was “jerk” but his tone of voice suggested a different word.
Young lawyers are impressionable. Peter Dorsey made a lasting impression on me.