Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced his fourth nomination to the state Supreme Court on Tuesday, picking Appellate Court Judge Richard A. Robinson to replace retiring Justice Flemming L. Norcott Jr.
Before being appointed to the bench in 2000 by former Gov. John Rowland, Robinson worked as a lawyer for the city of Stamford where Malloy served as mayor. Robinson became an Appellate Court judge in 2007 under former Gov. M. Jodi Rell.
Robinson’s nomination will need to be approved by the legislature when it reconvenes in February. In the meantime, he thanked Malloy at a Capitol press conference. He said he realized the responsibility that comes with the position.
“I promise you, the Judicial Branch, the Connecticut Bar, and the people of this state that, if confirmed, I will fully and eagerly devote to my obligations as a justice of the Supreme Court,” he said.
The governor said he worked with Robinson in Stamford and wrote him a letter of recommendation when he was appointed by Rowland in 2000.
“[Robinson] has won the respect of his peers on the bench and attorneys throughout the state as a dedicated, thoughtful, and measured jurist,” Malloy said.
Attorney Daniel Klau echoed that sentiment in a Tuesday post on his blog, calling Robinson a “superb choice.” Klau said he has argued before Robinson on several occasions since 2007.
“He is an outstanding jurist: always thoroughly prepared for oral argument, asks insightful questions, writes thoughtful opinions. And he has a gentle demeanor which puts appellate advocates at ease, even when he is asking probing questions,” Klau wrote. “He will a great addition to the Supreme Court.”
Malloy has made a point of trying to encourage diversity among the state’s judges. Robinson, who is African American, will replace Norcott, who is currently the only black justice on the state’s high court. Norcott turned 70 years old in October, the mandatory retirement age.
Since taking office Malloy also has nominated Carmen Espinosa, the first Latino to serve on the state Supreme Court and Andrew McDonald, the state’s first openly gay Supreme Court justice. He also nominated Justice Lubbie Harper, Jr., who has since retired.
“We need a court of varied experiences to make sure that the varied experiences of the Connecticut people themselves are represented on the court,” Malloy said Tuesday. “That’s not simply talking about race or other backgrounds. I’m looking for justices with good common sense . . . and, quite frankly, if they pull for the underdog once in awhile it wouldn’t bother me.”
Former Gov. M. Jodi Rell faced legislative criticism for the lack of diversity of her judicial nominees.