As of 5:30 p.m. Wednesday evening Judge Patricia Swords’ future as a Superior Court judge was still in limbo because the Senate had yet to vote on her reappointment.
“There’s still no final decision,” Sen. Andrew McDonald, co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said. “I think it’s safe to say there are a number of members in the caucus with significant questions about her deportment and demeanor.”
The House of Representatives voted 100 to 41 in favor of Swords reappointment earlier in the day.
Before breaking for caucus, McDonald said there were no allegations of unethical conduct and it’s not about her decision in any one case. It’s just one of those “intangible aspects of judicial demeanor,” that lawmakers are questioning. And just “because it’s intangible that doesn’t make it any less significant,” McDonald said.
In order to clear up any questions lawmakers may have Judge Swords was meeting with them one-on-one to clear up any confusion, Judicial Branch officials said.
Deputy Chief Court Administrator Judge Patrick Carroll III said he’s concerned about what type of precedent a vote against Judge Swords may set. He said judges should be free to make courageous and independent decisions without having to think about their reappointments. He said lawmakers seem to be criticizing one decision she made, on one case, on one day. “It’s seems to me an unfortunate, unfair turn of events,” Carroll said.
Swords, a former Tolland state’s attorney, received criticism during the Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday from defense attorneys for her alleged favoritism toward the prosecution. Defense attorney Jon Schoenhorn testified that in 2002 Swords refused to delay a criminal proceeding after he had to substitute for an attorney who collapsed the night before. Many lawmakers seemed disturbed by Swords’ refusal to grant a delay.
Carroll said Judge Swords worked very hard to improve the scores she received during her first evaluation. Between her first evaluation and her subsequent one her scores on comportment improved from 69 to 81 percent.
If the Senate fails to reappoint Swords Wednesday night her term will expire Feb. 6. McDonald said its possible the senate would take up her nomination at a later date, however, there currently is no session dates scheduled between now and Feb. 6.