ST. ALBANS — Members of Vermont’s judiciary gathered here Wednesday afternoon at the county courthouse and dedicated it in honor of former Vermont Supreme Court Chief Justice Perceval Lee Shangraw.
Born in Montgomery on Aug. 6, 1897, Sangraw died at his High Street home in St. Albans City on Dec. 18, 1988 at the age of 91, having been a member of the Vermont bar for more than half a century.
Justice Shangraw graduated from Albany Law School in 1923 and practiced law until 1951 when he became a Superior Court Judge. He was appointed to the Vermont Supreme Court in 1958 and became chief justice in 1972. He retired from the Vermont Supreme Court in 1974, but continued to serve by filling in for other judges when needed.
“We take great pride in this great old courthouse,” said Franklin County Assistant Judge Bob Johnson. “We feel it is equally important to celebrate the county’s greatest asset – it’s people.”
Justice Shangraw, who assistant judge Kelly Gosselin said was “lovingly referred to as Shang,” was known for his fondness for practical jokes, as well as his jurisprudence. Gosselin said he was known to call judges on the phone pretending to be an IRS agent.
His grandson, Scott Griffin, of Atlanta, Ga., unveiled a plaque on the front of the Church Street building bearing his grandfather’s name. He told those assembled, “On behalf of my mother and our family, I’d like to say how proud and honored we are,” he said.
Chief Justice Paul Reiber said one case in particular might give the audience a sense of Shangraw’s humor. In the case of State v. Jackson, a condemnation proceeding which reached the Vermont Supreme Court from Rutland, Shangraw wrote both the majority opinion and the dissent.
The county’s courthouse is nearly 140 years old. Since being elected two years ago, Johnson said he and Gosselin have worked to preserve county artifacts and records, insuring the records are stored in an environmentally controlled archive and passing artifacts onto the St. Albans Historical Museum for preservation.
Justice Reiber speaking during the dedication ceremony said of the building, “This courthouse … stands as an icon to the commitment of the state and the community to the rule of law and equal access to justice.”