The 81-year old man in a suit confronted photogenic NewAlliance bank president Peyton Patterson, who had just won stock options worth $27 million in a rich bank merger.
Anthony DeMayo was speaking at the April 2006 stockholders meeting. "Our bank or your bank, if that's how you want to look at it is the worst performing bank in the state," DeMayo fumed. "I am not proud of that."
The judge went on to say that by paying rates of only 0.55 percent on Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts rate, the state's third-largest bank was well below other banks. And the IOLTA interest rate was far under the 1.5 to 2 percent that the bank then paid to other depositors. The IOLTA account money is used to fund legal services to Connecticut's poor a cause dear to DeMayo's heart.
"He went to that meeting, stood up in front of hundreds of people, and just lambasted them. It was wonderful," said Sandra Klebanoff, executive director of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, which distributes the IOLTA funds to legal aid organzations. "That's just the kind of feisty guy he was."
DeMayo passed away last week at age 88, having served a a lawyer since 1951 and as a Superior Court judge, and then a judge trial referee since 1981. Raised in East Haven, educated at Yale and the University of Connecticut School of Law, DeMayo was repeatedly recognized by his fellow lawyers and judges. This past June, the Connecticut Bar Association officially renamed its Pro Bono Award; it's now called The Honorable Anthony V. DeMayo Pro Bono Award.
DeMayo previously received from the CBA the Charles J. Parker Legal Services Award in 1992 and the John Eldred Shields Distinguished Professional Service Award in 1986.
As a judge, he was known to be both forthright and personable. "I didn't always agree with some of his decisions, but he was always a gentleman and a good guy," said New Haven defense lawyer Hugh Keefe. "He had no pretense as a judge."
Commenting on the Legacy.com web site, Superior Court Judge Gerard Adelman wrote that, as a lawyer, "I appeared before Judge DeMayo many times. He was always kind to counsel and fair to both sides. Since I went on the bench, he has always been one of my role models for excellent judicial behavior."
Noting his death, the CBA web site stated that DeMayo "was known for his selfless dedication, boundless energy and talent, and commitment to ensuring the availability and delivery of legal services to all."
DeMayo left his mark on the state's legal community well before he was appointed to the bench. Early in his career, DeMayo was a partner in a small New Haven law firm. In 1966, he also became New Haven's public defender, a job that allowed him to hire special public defenders. In that role, he was responsible for hiring Connecticut's first female and its first African-American public defenders.