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Ellen Bree Burns, pioneering federal judge, dies at 95

Judge Ellen Bree Burns

HARTFORD — Retired U.S. District Judge Ellen Bree Burns, the first woman to serve on the federal bench in Connecticut who was widely admired as a pioneer and role model, has died. She was 95.

Her son, Joseph Burns, says she died Monday at a hospital in New Haven after a brief illness.

She became a federal judge in 1978 after being nominated by President Jimmy Carter. After having served as the first female Connecticut Superior Court judge, she spent nearly four decades on the federal bench including as chief judge of the federal courts in Connecticut, until her retirement in 2015.

Burns presided over many prominent criminal cases, including ones involving mobsters and Hells Angels.

A wake is scheduled for Friday and the funeral for Saturday, both in Hamden.

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