Years ago, former UConn School of Law Dean Hugh Macgill said something at an event that planted a seed in Sheridan Moore’s mind.
“He said, ‘Think about it. What has the law school education afforded you? Wouldn’t you want to do the same to benefit someone else?’” Moore said.
Moore ’78 thought back over her successful legal career, first as a lawyer and then as a Connecticut Superior Court judge. She knew none of it would have been possible without the financial aid she received that allowed her to go to law school.
“I wanted to help students who found themselves in the same situation that I was in. So, I thought ‘Well, if I can do this, I’ll do it,’” she says.
Moore set up a scholarship in honor of her brother, Tyrone Moore, who had recently died at age 44. She knew that naming the scholarship after her brother would provide some measure of comfort to her grieving mother.
Since then, the Tyrone Moore Endowed Scholarship Fund has supported five students and counting, providing a scholarship for each of their first two years of law school.
“The knowledge that I am doing what I can to help somebody along with their education is exactly what I wanted to accomplish,” she said. “I’ve met with a couple of the recipients through the years and their feeling is pretty much the same one that I had: but for this help, I probably wouldn’t be in law school.”
UConn Law Dean Eboni S. Nelson said Moore’s scholarship is making an impact.
“We’re so grateful that Judge Moore chose to honor her brother’s memory by helping students at UConn Law pursue their dreams,” Nelson said. “Because of her generosity, recipients of the Tyrone Moore Endowed Scholarship will have access to an affordable, transformative legal education for generations to come.”
Moore, who recently turned 70, is still working in the field. After 20 years as a superior court judge and five as a senior judge, she now works part-time as a Judge Trial Referee (JTR), a designation that allows judges aged 70 or older to hear certain cases.
Over the course of her career, she’s worked in the criminal, civil, housing, family, and juvenile courts throughout much of Connecticut. She’s still at it because she loves the work.
“I guess you could say I’m sort of a people person, so I like the interaction with the people,” she said. “In the juvenile court, you really felt like you were affecting lives. You may influence lives in other disciplines as well, but you felt it more in the juvenile court.”
After graduating from law school in 1978, she started her career as a lawyer with Connecticut Legal Services then moved to the Connecticut Public Defender’s Office for several years. After that, she opened her own office in Naugatuck, Connecticut where she handled all kinds of cases for 12 years.
“I was working as a private attorney and thought I was going to do that for the rest of my life. Then a couple of judges both said to me ‘You should apply to be a judge. We could use people like you on the bench.’ It was a real shock to me because I didn’t know you applied to become a judge.”
When then-Gov. John Rowland selected her for the role, she became one of the first Black woman judges in Connecticut.
Moore, who lives in Beacon Falls, Connecticut, and spends her winters in Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, is still close with her classmates from law school and never misses a reunion. She attributes this in part to the law school’s former location in a small building on the now-closed West Hartford campus. Everyone took classes together and got to know each other well.
“We felt it was great because it made for a great camaraderie between the people there because you couldn’t avoid anybody. They were all there,” she said.