Senior Associate Supreme Court Justice David Borden said Wednesday in a letter to Judiciary Co-Chairman that the court would comply with their request to preserve all documents related to the resignation of Chief Justice William Sullivan and the nomination of Justice Peter T. Zarella. Judiciary Committee Co-Chairman Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford and Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven asked Borden Tuesday to preserve the court’s record, so that it may hold public hearings into the circumstances surrounding Justice Zarella’s nomination and Sullivan’s actions in delaying the release of the decision. Both Democrats and Republican said Tuesday that Sullivan should agree to make public any hearings before the Judicial Review Council which investigates complaints against judges. Judicial Review Council proceedings are traditionally kept confidential unless the judge in question allows it to open up the process.
Lawlor said Sullivan has the power to open up the hearings in this case. In his letter Wednesday, Borden said he has no power to force the other Justices to save all the documents the Judiciary Committee co-chairman have requested, but “I have no reason to believe they any of them will not do so.” Lawmakers want to know why Sullivan tried to help Zarella by delaying the release of a 4-to-3 court decision said the public should not have access to certain court documents. The decision along with other decisions Zarella has made would have been considered by the Judiciary Committee in its appointment process, which never came to fruition once the allegations against Sullivan were made Monday, April 24. Sullivan placed a hold on the decision March 14, one day before he announced his retirement and three days before Gov. M. Jodi Rell nominated Zarella. The court decision was released to the public Friday, April 21.Zarella has since withdrawn his nomination. But Rell can re-nominate him or another justice after the session ends next Wednesday. Rell said late Monday that “Once I am satisfied that all relevant questions are answered and concerns addressed, I will proceed with the nominating process.“Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, said he thinks Zarella should “have his day in our court.” He said the legislature should have an opportunity to question all the justices involved, including Zarella, Sullivan, and Borden. Roraback also said that nothing he’s heard so far “precludes the governor from nominating Zarella” chief justice a second time. Lawlor said Wednesday Rell could still re-nominate Zarella, but predicted she will instead appoint a judge who is not currently a justice on the Supreme Court. Regardless she still has to fill Sullivan’s vacancy on the court. Lawlor said the outsider appointed was former Chief Justice Ellen Peters, an academic when she was appointed associate justice by former Gov. Ella Grasso.