HARTFORD, CT — Not unlike the woman who first nominated her for the position, Chief Justice Chase Rogers will be remembered for how she enhanced public confidence and transparency in the Judicial Branch.
Rogers, who was first nominated by former Gov. M. Jodi Rell, announced Thursday that she will retire on Feb. 5, 2018. Rogers was appointed Chief Justice in 2007 on the heels of retired Justice William J. Sullivan’s fall from grace.
Sullivan withheld a decision that would have kept court docket information secret in order to help the now-retired Justice Peter Zarella succeed him. Zarella was forced to withdraw his nomination and shortly after the dust settled Rogers was nominated to the position by Rell, whose legacy also includes restoring confidence in state government.
Shortly after becoming Chief Justice, Rogers created the Public Service and Trust Commission, which was charged with developing the branch’s first ever strategic plan. She has said the group spent more than 500 hours discussing how the branch could address the challenges it faces.
Some of the other challenges facing the branch during Rogers’ tenure included how to provide better resources to a growing number of self-represented parties, how to better service for those with limited-English proficiency, and how to make more information available online.
Rogers oversaw the transition to a primarily paperless branch.
In an email to staff Thursday, she congratulated them on implementing “innovative civil and family court reform that is cost-effective for the parties without sacrificing our responsibility to decide matters in a fair and efficient manner.”
She also congratulated them on instituting “training programs that have resulted in national accreditation for juvenile and adult probation, juvenile detention and our judicial marshal training academy.”
Rogers said she never intended to stay in the leadership position for more than 10 years. When she steps down in February it will be almost 11 years. She could have served until 2023.
In a letter to her colleagues she said she didn’t want to “overstay my welcome.”
She was reappointed to the position in 2015 by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who will get to nominate her replacement.
In a statement, Malloy called Rogers a “consummate jurist who has served the state admirably and with formidable distinction.”
In addition to expanding transparency and access to justice, fostering a culture of inclusion in the judicial branch, and streamlining court processes, Malloy said her legacy includes the “Judicial Mentoring Program, which provides formal mentoring of new judges, and her establishment of a committee on judicial ethics.”
Rogers said the experience has been rewarding mostly because of the talented judges and Judicial Branch employees she supervised.
“I am forever indebted to them for their dedication and commitment to access to justice, and it is they who make it difficult to leave,” Rogers said. “However, change is good, and I believe that the Judicial Branch of today is well suited to face whatever challenges are ahead.”
During his tenure, Malloy has named seven justices to the Supreme Court.
When Rogers retires there will only be two justices on the bench who weren’t first nominated by Malloy. Those include Justice Richard Palmer, who was nominated by former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker in 1993, and Justice Christine S. Vertefeuille, who was first nominated by former Gov. John G. Rowland.
The seven justices Malloy has named to the court include, Lubbie Harper Jr., Andrew McDonald, Carmen Espinosa, Richard A. Robinson, Gregory T. D’Auria, Raheem L. Mullins, and Maria Araujo Kahn. Mullins and Kahn were just approved Wednesday by the Judiciary Committee. They will sit on the court temporarily until the General Assembly reconvenes and can approve their nominations.
Justices and judges serve eight year terms and most are reappointed until they reach the age of 70.