Malloy Seeks To Add To Diversity Of The Bench
Six are women, three are African-American, one is Latino, and one of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s 15 nominees to Superior Court is a political rival who had been on the list of potential judges for only a week.
Malloy came into office vowing to make sure his nominees were as diverse as Connecticut’s population based on their race, gender, and geography.
Perhaps the most curious of the nominations Thursday was that of former Republican state Sen. Andrew Roraback of Goshen. Roraback ran an unsuccessful bid for Congress in the 5th Congressional District last year after 18 years in the General Assembly.
As a member of the state Bond Commission, Roraback was a critic of many of the capital projects Malloy sought to put on the state’s credit card. He also wasn’t fond of the lack of communication between the executive branch and the Bond Commission.
Two years ago, Malloy thought he had caught Roraback in a flip-flop over his previously stated policy regarding bonding. Roraback has always been in favor of using bond funds for state infrastructure, but not “earmarks” for specific legislators.
“I try very hard to bring some degree of care to my work, and for the governor to think that he was going to trap me in a contradiction I think he sold me short,” Roraback said back on Dec. 16, 2011.
During his announcement Thursday, Malloy tried to downplay what seemed to be a running feud between the two.
“You guys make more of that stuff than I do,” Malloy told reporters. “He’s served in the legislature with distinction.”
Malloy, who is known for a strong work ethic, said he appreciated Roraback’s work ethic. In 18 years, Roraback never missed a single vote as a lawmaker.
Malloy admitted the two have disagreed on some things, but also said, “I have a lot of respect for him.”
“We tussled at Bond meetings when I thought he was doing things that were politically motivated. Imagine, a politician being politically motivated,” Malloy quipped.
Malloy said Roraback’s name popped up on the list of lawyers cleared by the Judicial Selection Committee about a week ago.
In a phone interview, Rorback declined to comment on the length of time he was on a list since the process is supposed to be confidential.
“I’m honored to be nominated and I’m eager to serve,” Roraback said.
Eleven members of Roraback’s family have been lawyers. One ancestor served on the Connecticut Supreme Court and some were probate judges.
But Roraback has always loved the law. He said that in the spring of 1974 he would race to the Litchfield Courthouse after school where his cousin, Catherine Roraback, was defending Peter Reilly in a high-profile murder trial.
“I was very interested in the legal process even at a young age,” Roraback said. “I guess you could say there is a generic condition that runs deep.”
The family law firm Roraback currently practices at in Torrington was started by his great-grandfather, Willard Andrew Roraback, in 1883. Roraback’s great-grandfather also served as a lawmaker at one point in his career.
First elected to the House in 1993, Roraback was then elected to the state Senate in 2000. He is joined in his judicial nomination by two other former lawmakers.
Thomas Moukawsher of Groton served as a state representative for one term in 1991-93. Maurice Mosley of Waterbury served five terms as a state representative.
But they’re not the only nominees with political pedigrees.
Also nominated by Malloy was Michael Albis of East Haven, a former probate judge and principal in the firm Hilcoff and Albis, whose son, Rep. James Albis, is currently serving in the House.
Christine Keller, who has been a judge since 1993, was nominated to the Appellate Court. Keller is the wife of former Speaker of the House Thomas Ritter and mother to Rep. Matt Ritter.
Malloy wants to elevate Keller to fill the vacancy he hopes will be left when the General Assembly elevates Carmen Espinosa from the Appellate Court to the Supreme Court.
Malloy also nominated the following:
-Thomas Colin of Ridgefield, a partner in Shoonmaker, George, Colin and Blomberg in Greenwich;
-Melanie Cradle of Middlefield, a senior assistant state’s attorney for the Ansonia-Milford district;
-Karen Goodrow of Chester, the director of the Connecticut Innocence Project;
-Shelia Huddleston of West Hartford, a partner in Shipman and Goodwin;
-Michael Kamp of Hamden, a principal in the litigation department at Loughlin Fitzgerald in Wallingford;
-Charles Lee of Greenwich, a partner in Anderson, Kill & Olick in Stamford;
-Jason Lobo of Suffield, a supervising assistant attorney general;
-Shelley Marcus of Branford, an attorney with more than 20 years of private practice experience;
-Hope Seeley of Coventry, a partner in Santos and Seeley in Hartford;
-Robyn Stewart Johnson of Glastonbury, a senior assistant state’s attorney, and;
-Anthony Truglia of Stamford.
The group is intended to fill some of the Superior Courts’ 30 vacancies. Malloy said he does not intend to fill all 30.