Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Rubinow, judge in Horton vs. Meskill school funding case, dies at 92

Rubinow, judge in Horton vs. Meskill school funding case, dies at 92

By Journal Inquirer Staff, January 04, 2005

MANCHESTER -- Judge Jay E. Rubinow, whose career encompassed 60 years as a local lawyer and then Superior Court judge, died today. He was 92.

Rubinow presided over the trial of the Horton vs. Meskill case, the 1970s lawsuit that resulted in a finding, first by Rubinow and then by the state Supreme Court, that Connecticut's system of financing municipal school systems was unconstitutional.

"He was a great guy," said Manchester lawyer John D. LaBelle Jr., who knew the judge since he was a child. Rubinow was "one of the most respected judges, a brilliant man, with an excellent legal mind."

Rubinow, who closed his law practice thinking that he would be drafted during World War II, worked with LaBelle's father, John, in the 1940s.

Rubinow also served as assistant prosecutor and then prosecutor of the Manchester court before helping to reform Connecticut's former Circuit Court system and becoming its chief judge.

He was named chief administrator for the probate court system in 1967, where he served until 1972. He also served as a judge of the Superior Court until his retirement in 1982.

During his tenure on the Circuit Court he oversaw the merger of the circuit and common pleas courts into the Superior Court system and the abolishment of the municipal and trial justice courts.

In a 1996 interview Rubinow said he found many files in a courthouse in western Connecticut "under a foot and a half of water" in a flooded basement when the abolition of the municipal and trial justice courts required the Circuit Court to take over thousands of cases.

LaBelle said Rubinow, who graduated from Harvard University in 1933 and from Harvard Law School in 1937, worked as a state trial referee after his retirement, once appearing in the courtroom without his black robe, joking that he was retired and didn't have to wear it anymore.

As a referee he heard primarily tax appeals and land condemnations.Rubinow's most notable case arose in 1974 when he presided over Horton vs. Meskill. He concluded that the state Constitution forbade excessive differences between towns in their property-tax ability to pay for educating children. Rubinow's decision was upheld by the state Supreme Court, and the case led to an expansion of state financing of local schools.

Rubinow was an avid runner who participated in the 5-mile Manchester Thanksgiving Day Road Race as recently as the mid-1990s and once completed the Boston Marathon.

He is survived by his wife, Eleanor, and three children: Laurence, a Manchester lawyer; Judith, also a lawyer; and David, a physician.

©Journal Inquirer 2005

The above is found (here) on the web


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