Photo courtesy of the Judicial BranchState Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford, told the Judicial Review Council Wednesday that retired Chief Justice William ‘Tocco’ Sullivan admitted he made a poor decision when he withheld the release of a Supreme Court decision to aid in the appointment of his successor. McDonald testified that Sullivan caught up with him in the parking garage the day the Judiciary Committee was going to send its report to the General Assembly on the appointment of Justice Peter T. Zarella to the position of chief justice. McDonald told the Judicial Review Council Wednesday that Sullivan rolled down the window of his car and said, “‘I need to talk to you’,” but instead of stopping McDonald continued walking to his office.
McDonald said he found Sullivan waiting for him in his office shortly after the encounter in the garage. “Do you really think you should be here?” McDonald recalled asking Sullivan. According to McDonald Sullivan said “‘My attorney’s don’t think I should be’,” and then he asked if he could be straight forward. During Wednesday’s testimony McDonald hesitated to recall exactly what Sullivan said because it included a profanity and only did so after a member of the Judicial Review Council said it was appropriate. “Justice Sullivan said ‘I f****d up’,” McDonald said. According to McDonald, Sullivan said he withheld the decision to aid in Zarella’s appointment and would have done the same thing for any of the other sitting justices. In last few weeks of the past legislative session, McDonald and state Rep. Michael Lawlor, D-East Haven, introduced an amendment to a court operations bill that would prohibit senior justices on the Supreme Court from hearing cases unless a sitting justice is unavailable. Sullivan’s lawyer, Robert Cooney said the only person effected by the legislation which was passed into law, is Sullivan. Cooney concluded the intent of the legislation was to punish Sullivan. McDonald said the legislation initially included the Appellate Court justices too and besides he was unaware the position of senior justice even existed until the decision Sullivan had withheld came to light. Acting Chief Justice David Borden, who filed the complaint, testified earlier in the day Wednesday shortly after the Judicial Review Council decided to deny Sullivan’s motion to dismiss. Sullivan himself testified about his career accomplishments late into the afternoon before the hearing was adjourned to be continued 9 a.m., Sept. 19. Click here and here and here and here to catch up on the judicial controversy.