Gov. Dannel P. Malloy nominated Appellate Court Judge Carmen Espinosa to the state Supreme Court on Monday, continuing his effort to diversify the state’s Judiciary.
The nomination is the second time Malloy has elevated Espinosa. Soon after taking office, he promoted her to the Appellate Court. She had served as a Superior Court judge for almost 20 years. At the time, she was the first Latino to serve on the Appellate bench. If confirmed by the legislature, she will also be the first to serve on the Supreme Court.
Malloy has made a point of trying to encourage diversity among the state’s judges. Just before the end of the year he nominated Andrew McDonald, his friend and legal adviser, to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, McDonald will be the first openly gay Supreme Court justice.
The governor said diversity is one factor he considers as he looks at candidates for judicial positions.
“I believe that when people from Connecticut appear before a court, they have a reasonable right and expectation that the court should reflect Connecticut. Simply put, we should have the best minds, the best backgrounds, the best of what Connecticut is, and Connecticut is a diverse place,” he said.
Espinosa was first appointed to the Superior Court bench in 1992 by then-Gov. Lowell Weicker. Malloy said that when he first met with Espinosa to consider her for the Appellate Court, he was surprised to learn she had been on a list of candidates for many years but had never been interviewed.
If confirmed, Espinosa will replace Supreme Court Justice C. Ian McLachlan, who turned 70 in June. Has since retired and returned to private practice.
Hailing from Puerto Rico is not Espinosa’s only claim to diversity. Over the years she’s held a number of different jobs in varying fields. She’s taught French in Spanish in Southington, the town where she lives. She also has served as an FBI agent and an assistant U.S. attorney.
A graduate of Central Connecticut State University, Espinosa went on to get her masters degree in Hispanic Studies from Brown University and a law degree from George Washington University, where she fell in love with litigation.
“I am convinced she will be an excellent addition to our state’s highest court, in part because of her very diverse background,” Malloy said.
Espinosa thanked Malloy for giving her the chance to be the first Hispanic judge to sit on all three levels of the state Judiciary.
“Not only does he honor me with this nomination, but he has honored the Hispanic community as well. I fully understand the responsibility that will fall upon my shoulders if confirmed as the first Hispanic to serve as a Supreme Court justice in our great state,” she said.
In a phone interview, Senate Republican leader John McKinney said he needs to do some research on Espinosa specifically, but is happy to hear Malloy had nominated a Latino to the Supreme Court.
“I think it’s past time we have a Hispanic member of the Supreme Court. I think it’s great for the diversity of our judicial system,” McKinney said.