Judge Patricia Swords was reappointed Wednesday night in a squeaker of a vote after Lt. Gov. Michael Fedele broke 18 to 18 tie in the Senate.
Earlier, the House of Representatives voted 100 to 41 in favor of Swords. However, her confirmation in the Senate hung in the balance most of the day until Sen. Joan Hartley, D-Waterbury, reconsidered her position.
Swords made her way up to the Capitol on Wednesday in an effort to lobby lawmakers on her own behalf and her efforts paid off when she had a chance encounter with Hartley outside the Senate chamber.
Sen. Andrew McDonald, the Stamford Democrat who voted against Swords’ reappointment, said the debate was more passionate and emotional than most. “Now watch an all out brawl on the budget,” he joked.
Sen. Edward Meyer, D-Guilford, who also voted against Swords’ reappointment said he was mystified that she didn’t know until her confirmation hearing Tuesday that she had opposition.
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.
“We’re going to let a motion to grant an extension of time ruin a judge’s career?” Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, asked his colleagues during the debate.
Twenty-five of Swords’ decisions have been appealed to the Appellate Court over her past eight years on the bench, and only one of them has been overturned, Sen. Andrew Roraback, R-Goshen, pointed out. He said the Senate should give more weight to whether a judge is getting the law right, rather than their demeanor on the bench.