Connecticut federal Judge Dominic Squatrito dies at 82

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — U.S. District Judge Dominic Squatrito, a native of Connecticut and Fulbright scholar who served on the federal bench for more than 25 years, has died. He was 82.

Squatrito died Wednesday, according to a statement released Friday evening by federal court officials in Connecticut, where he served. The cause of death was not disclosed.

Squatrito was nominated to the federal bench by Democratic President Bill Clinton in 1994. Colleagues said he was a compassionate judge dedicated to fairness and equal justice.

Judge José Cabranes, of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, said in a statement that Squatrito was an “untiring guardian of equal justice for all.” Connecticut federal Judge Robert Chatigny said Squatrito had a “considerable passion for justice” and was a “man with a great big heart who truly loved his fellow man and had tremendous empathy for him.”

In a notable ruling in 2007, Squatrito said religion has no place in post offices across the country that are run by church and other private contractors, citing the separation of church and state in the Constitution. The case involved a church-run post office in Manchester.

Squatrito ordered the U.S. Postal Service to notify the nearly 5,200 facilities run by contractors that they cannot promote religion through pamphlets, displays or other materials.

Squatritio was a star athlete at Manchester High School in football, swimming and track and field. He got his undergraduate degree from Wesleyan University, where he was a fullback and co-captain of the football team. He attended the University of Florence in Italy on a Fulbright scholarship and earned his law degree from Yale in 1965.

Before joining the federal bench, Squatrito practiced law for nearly three decades at the Manchester firm Phelon, Squatrito, FitzGerald, Dyer & Wood.