Longtime New London Judicial chief clerk retires
David S. Gage, the chief clerk for the New London Judicial District whose job has evolved from clipboards and notepads to computers and video conferences, retired this month after 34 years with the state Judicial Branch.
The 61-year-old Lyme resident worked his last day for the state on Nov. 1 and is renovating a space at 19 Halls Road in Old Lyme, where he will open a private law practice, Gage Law and Life, in the coming weeks. He plans to concentrate on family and personal injury law.
Gage, a father of three who volunteers his time coaching a variety of sports teams in the area, said he expects that with retirement will come more time for his family, including wife Noelle, and less time driving from courthouse to courthouse. As chief clerk, Gage oversees the operations of five courts in the New London Judicial District in Norwich, New London and Waterford where the juvenile court is located.
“After 35 years it’s time for a new challenge and new experience in life,” Gage said.
Gage started with the state court system in 1988 and worked managing and organizing civil trials in New London under Judge D. Michael Hurley.
“In those days we didn’t even have computers. I was operating off of a clipboard and notebook,” Gage said.
Gage would eventually be named deputy chief clerk, worked for many years overseeing housing and family matters and was named chief clerk in 2011.
Many of the recent changes in the courts came during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Gage said courts were forced to adapt. The New London Judicial District was one of only a handful of courts to remain open during the pandemic, handling cases from all over eastern Connecticut.
“By necessity we were forced to do business in a different way. We were in the front line of that,” Gage said.
Those changes included learning how to handle business remotely and becoming more technologically advanced with video conferences and video hearings.
Gage said he had a hand in the hiring of more than 60 employees and likes to think he’s created a good working culture in the face of a decided turn for the worse when it comes to “respect for the décor on the court.”
Gage doesn’t have a specific story that comes to mind that would sum up his time in the Judicial Branch, but thinks he could create a podcast called Courthouse Chronicles and have a different subject every day.
“A lot of stuff happens here. A lot of good stuff, a lot of bad stuff,” he said.
One of the more recent accomplishment that Gage is proud of is the renovations in two of the well-used New London Part A courtrooms where criminal and civil trials are held. After years of compiling complaints from jurors, Gage said he was able to get the chairs replaced, bench seats refurbished and rugs replaced.
The state has posted the position of chief clerk with a closing date of Nov. 6. Judicial Branch spokeswoman Rhonda Hebert said interviews will be followed by the appointment of Gage’s successor.
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