He was born in Spokane, Washington on January 16, 1928 to Grace and Edward Connelly. Jim's family emigrated from Tuam, Ireland in 1860 and initially settled in Happy Valley, Washington. Jim never tired of reminding all of his strong Irish heritage. Jim’s father was a lawyer who served both as a US Attorney and State Supreme Court Judge. Jim’s brother Ellis likewise was a member of the Bar. Law was ever part of Jim’s life and he generously gave back to all in the profession, especially young lawyers who aspired to try cases.
Jim grew up in Spokane where he attended St. Augustine Grade School, then Gonzaga Preparatory High School and graduated at 17. He attended Notre Dame and Gonzaga University. Jim went on to graduate from Gonzaga School of Law. Jim clerked at the Washington State Supreme Court. After a stint working as a prosecutor for Spokane County Jim joined the law firm of Cashatt, Williams, Connelly and Rekofke. In 1972 he joined with his lifelong friends Robert McNichols (Deceased Fellow), Leo Driscoll and Mike Cronin to merge two established law firms into Winston & Cashatt.
Throughout Jim’s career he was known as a fierce and brilliant trial lawyer, a passion he shared with many attorneys. Attorneys of the Spokane Bar Association and the state benefited from his guidance and mentorship.
When Jim “retired” from Winston & Cashatt he did not stray far from his love of the law. For a brief period he taught trial practice at Gonzaga School of Law before following in his father's footsteps when he was appointed US Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. Jim was known for his colorful language, his love of books, a good story, his enjoyment of any gathering with friends and a stiff glass of good scotch. Most important to Jim were his eight children, inspiring all of them to be good democrats, be involved in their communities and pursue excellence. He always told his kids that his purpose in life was to emancipate them, to teach them to be independent and capable of standing on their own. Jim also passed on the torch of the practice of law two of his sons, Patrick and Michael as well as one of his daughter-in-laws Laurie.
Jim and his wife Marianne enjoyed many wonderful years with his large family, taking trips to the Oregon coast, skiing at Schweitzer, sailing, and spending winters at the beach in Coronado, California. Jim’s friendship will be missed by all who knew and loved him.