Late Wednesday afternoon, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell nominated one Superior Court Judge to the Supreme Court to fill a vacancy and 10 lawyers to the Superior Court. However, according to lawmakers in charge of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, the path to confirmation for the 10 Superior Court judges is “murky” at best.
Lawmakers said they will look at confirming Superior Court Judge Dennis Eveleigh to fill the vacancy left by Supreme Court Justice Christine S. Vertefeuille, but the other nominations are questionable.
Rep. Michael Lawlor, co-chairman of the legislature’s Judiciary Committee, which is responsible for vetting potential judges, said he won’t support any of the nominations until the budget crisis in the Judicial Branch is resolved.
“They have no money,” Lawlor said. “They’re closing courthouses and law libraries.”
The salary for each of the judges could cost the branch as much $150,000 per year, when its already had to scale back its operations after Rell vetoed a bill that would have exempted the Judicial Branch from cutting $7.8 million over the next two years. That decision has forced the branch to start closing courthouses, law libraries, and other programs and because of the early retirement plan there are 400 fewer court interpreters, clerical staff, as well as judicial marshals to provide security.
“Many of these people are very qualified,” but “it’s unlikely they will get confirmed,” Lawlor said Wednesday in a phone interview.
“It’s an open unresolved question,” Sen. Andrew McDonald, the other co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said. “There needs to be a recognition of the enormity of the budget crisis first.”
McDonald cautioned the nominees about leaving their current positions.
“The branch is in fiscal turmoil,” McDonald said.“They need a lot, but they don’t need more judges.”
The legislature has until seven days before the end of the legislative session to vote on the nominations.
Both McDonald and Lawlor said it’s possible it could happen, but it all depends on the budget situation. It’s also possible that Rell on her way out the door could make interim nominations to the bench months prior to her departure.
Ironically, Rell’s Budget Director Robert Genuario, who has maintained that the cuts to the Judicial Branch were necessary, was one of the 10 nominees to the Superior Court bench Wednesday.
The list on nominees to the Superior Court includes:
Laura Flynn Baldini, 39, of West Hartford (Republican): Currently an attorney in private practice, Baldini is a 1992 graduate of Yale University who obtained her law degree from Seton Hall University in 1996. She worked previously as an attorney at Updike, Kelly & Spellacy from 1998 to 2003 and at Ohrenstein & Brown from 1996 to 1998.
John L. Carbonneau, 54, of East Lyme (Independent): Carbonneau currently works as an attorney in private practice. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut in 1977 and his law degree from the Catholic University of America in 1980. He worked previously as an attorney at Kaplan & Brennan from 1996 to 2000 and at the Connecticut Laborers’ Legal Services Fund from 1984 to 1996.
Susan Q. Cobb, 49, of West Hartford (Democrat): An Assistant Attorney General for the State of Connecticut from 1994 to the present, Cobb received her undergraduate degree from Catholic University of America in 1983 and her law degree from the University of Connecticut in 1988. She worked previously for Tyler, Cooper & Alcorn from 1989 to 1994.
Susan A. Connors, 44, of Old Lyme (Republican): Connors, an attorney with Krevolin, Roth & Connors since 1995, received both her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Connecticut, graduating with her law degree in 1991.
John A. Danaher III, 59, of West Hartford (Democrat): Currently the state’s Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, Danaher is a 1972 graduate of Fairfield University. He received a master’s degree from the University of Hartford in 1977 and his law degree from the University of Connecticut in 1980. He served more than 20 years as an Assistant United States Attorney and interim United States Attorney; he also worked for Day, Berry & Howard from 1981 to 1986.
Jane B. Emons, 59, of Woodbridge (Democrat): Emons has served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Connecticut since 1996 and worked previously in the New Haven State’s Attorney’s office from 1978 to 1988. She graduated from Kirkland College in 1971, received a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina in 1972 and obtained her law degree from Suffolk University in 1977.
Robert L. Genuario, 57, of Norwalk (Republican): Genuario has been Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management (OPM), the Governor’s budget agency, since 2005. He served previously as state Senator from the 25th District, representing his native Norwalk, from 1991 to 2005. He also served 10 years on the Norwalk Board of Education, from 1981 to 1991, and worked as an attorney in private practice from 1978 to 2005. He received both his undergraduate and law degrees from Villanova University.
Brian J. Leslie, 42, of Wallingford (Republican): An Assistant State’s Attorney since 2000, Leslie is a 1990 graduate of Fairfield University and received his law degree from Boston College in 1994. He worked previously as an attorney for Farrell, Leslie & Grochowski from 1994 to 2000.
Kathleen McNamara, 56, of East Hartford (Democrat): A Senior Assistant State’s Attorney, McNamara has been with the State’s Attorney’s office since 1990. A former East Hartford police officer, she obtained her law degree from Western New England School of Law while serving as an officer. She served in the East Hartford department from 1979 to 1990. McNamara obtained her undergraduate degree from Northeastern University in 1978.
David M. Sheridan, 54, of Manchester (Democrat): An attorney with Levy & Droney since 1990, Sheridan graduated from the University of Arizona in 1981 with two undergraduate degrees. He received his law degree from the University of Connecticut in 1985. Before joining Levy & Droney, Sheridan worked for Cohen & Channin from 1985 to 1990.