Former Danbury Superior Court Judge dies
Updated 10:51 am, Friday, April 21, 2017
Riefberg, 90, who grew up in New York City, moved to Danbury in 1954 and, while working as a chemist, passed the Connecticut Bar in 1955. In 1956, he started a successful law firm in the city and was appointed to the Superior Court in 1985 by then-Gov. William A. O’Neill.
“Morton Riefberg was a compassionate and intelligent man,” said Danbury Probate Judge Dianne Yamin. “He was a well-respected attorney and judge who practiced law for more than 50 years. He will be missed.”
Yamin said she first met Riefberg, ironically, in the 1970s when he was running for probate judge and came to speak to her government class at Danbury High School. Besides being well respected in the legal community, Yamin noted that Riefberg was also a philanthropic man who worked for decades with the local chapter of the Lions Club.
During his long career in the legal field, Riefberg also served as the corporation counsel for the city as well as counsel for the town of New Fairfield. He retired from the bench in 1997 but continued to serve as a trial referee for many years after being named a senior judge in the state.
Local attorney and former Speaker of the House in the state legislature, Francis Collins, said that while a lot of lawyers set their sights on the bench, its only a select few, like Riefberg, who have the temperament for the job.
“He had the kind of wisdom that someone needs in order to sit in judgment of others,” said Collins. “You really want someone on the bench who listens and makes judgments that can often turn lives around. Riefberg’s wisdom and compassion served him well throughout his career and during his time on the bench.”
Collins, who served in the state legislature for eight years, said Riefberg was respected by politicians on both sides of the aisle.
Riefberg and the love of his life, Mae Riefberg, moved from the city to their winter home in Florida in 2009 but he continued to keep close ties with the community. He had served in the past as a Board of Trustees member for the United Jewish Center of Danbury. He also served on the board of Catholic Charities and received the Mary Dolce Award for Community Service in 1985.
Riefberg and his wife, who married in 1955 just weeks after he passed the state’s bar exam, celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary two years ago.
Family member are asking that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to several organizations including the United Jewish Center and the Regional Hospice of Western Connecticut. Funeral services for Riefberg will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday at the United Jewish Center on Deer Hill Avenue.