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State Senator, Name Partners Top Judicial Nominee List
The Connecticut Law Tribune
There's the head of the state's Innocence Project. A former president of the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. A recent congressional candidate. A top family law practitioner. And more.
While nearly all lists of Superior Court nominees contain some notable legal names, the Class of '13 "sparkles" with top Connecticut lawyers, said Dan Krisch, an appellate advocate at Halloran & Sage. Krisch called one of the nominees, Hope Seeley, the former CCDLA president who is considered one of the state's top defense lawyers, one of his personal role models.
"What has made these candidates great lawyers will also make them great judges," Krisch said.
There are 30 Superior Court openings, and last week Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced his picks to fill half of them. Given the state's budget situation, there are no immediate plans to fill the rest. Malloy also tapped Superior Court Judge Christine Keller to fill an expected opening on the Appellate Court. Appellate Judge Carmen Espinosa has been nominated as a Supreme Court justice.
Like Espinosa and Keller, all the Superior Court nominees must be confirmed by the General Assembly. Many of the private sectors on the list would take a significant pay cut; Superior Court judges currently make $146,780 a year. A special committee has recommended boosting that amount significantly, but some legislators have questioned the wisdom of doing that with the state still in the midst of a budget crisis.
The Superior Court Class of 2013 includes several name partners in established firms who would be leaving for the bench at a high point in their careers.
Greenwich divorce lawyer Thomas D. Colin of Ridgefield is a partner with Schoonmaker, George, Colin & Blomberg, and has been a prominent litigator, author and matrimonial bar member. One former colleague speculated that he may be taking a pay cut of several hundred thousand a year to don the black robes.
Thomas G. Moukawsher, of the Hartford and Groton firm of Moukawsher & Walsh, is considered to be a leading national authority on employee benefits law. He co-chairs the Employee Benefits Committee of the American Bar Association.
But the name partner with the highest public name recognition is probably Andrew Roraback, of Torrington's Roraback & Roraback, a firm founded back in the 1880s. A longtime state senator from Goshen, and a member of the legislature's Judiciary Committee, Roraback was the Republican candidate this past November for the Fifth District congressional seat won by Elizabeth Esty.
Only three of the candidates are from the public sector. The best-known among them is Karen Goodrow, who heads the Connecticut Innocence Project, which has freed several men most notably James Tillman who were erroneously convicted of rape, murder and other crimes.
'For The Challenge'
Hugh F. Keefe, of New Haven's Lynch, Traub, Keefe & Errante, has been the chair of both the Judicial Selection Commission and the Judicial Review Council, bodies that help select and discipline Connecticut's jurists. Recently, some top state judges have stepped down to take more lucrative jobs in private practice as mediators a cause for some alarm in the Judicial Branch. Keefe said the new list's strong showing of prominent and accomplished private sector lawyers shows the continued appeal of the bench.
"It undercuts the argument of the Judicial Branch that they can't attract good people because of the pay," Keefe said. "Some people take these jobs for the prestige, or the security, and others take it for the challenge, and the opportunity for public service."
Keefe added: "I know for a fact that some of them have taken a pretty substantial pay cut. Money is not everything."
Krisch, a Law Tribune columnist who has worried about a possible judicial talent drain to private practice, said the list is encouraging, "but it's still no reason not to give the judges a raise."
The bar will also be losing a top appellate advocate to the bench, if Sheila A. Huddleston's nomination is approved by the legislature. A Shipman & Goodwin partner, Huddleston has been co-chair of the Appellate Section of the CBA. She said in a written statement, "I have loved the private practice of law, and I'm grateful to my partners at Shipman & Goodwin, who have allowed me to spend a substantial portion of my time over nearly 20 years in pro bono work."
Her firm's managing partner Scott Murphy said, "We're all very proud of Sheila, and know she will make a great contribution to the bench." He added that it is also a bittersweet moment, to be losing her talents as an appellate advocate and her work on pro bono matters.
One candidate, Michael A. Albis, of Hilcoff & Albis in East Haven, got a taste of the judicial role when he was the probate judge of East Haven. Albis, in an interview, said his judicial work was "some of the most fulfilling work I've done in my career," and said he looked forward to the opportunity for more public service.
Other Superior Court nominees are:
Melanie L. Cradle of Middlefield: Cradle is a senior assistant state's attorney for the Ansonia-Milford Judicial District, where she has served since 2002. Previously, she served as an associate with Lyle Hume and Associates and as an adjunct professor at Housatonic Community College.
Michael P. Kamp of Hamden: Kamp is a principal in the litigation department of Loughlin Fitzgerald in Wallingford. Previously, he was a principal with McNerney, Fitzgerald & Tiernan in New Haven, and an assistant corporation counsel with the Town of Hamden.
Charles T. Lee of Greenwich: Lee is a partner with Anderson, Kill & Olick in Stamford. Previously, he was a partner with McCarter & English as well as Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker.
Jason M. Lobo of Suffield: Lobo is a supervising assistant attorney general for the State of Connecticut. Previously, he was an attorney with Spruance & Associates.
Shelley A. Marcus of Branford: Marcus is an attorney with the Marcus Law Firm, having experience in private practice for over 20 years. She has also served in various governmental positions including chief screening counsel to the House Democrats.
Maurice B. Mosley of Waterbury: Mosley is counsel to the City of Waterbury's school department, and is president and CEO of Granville Academy of Waterbury. Previously, he was the owner and managing partner of the law firm Mosley & Sinclair, served five terms as a state representative and taught elementary school.
Robyn Stewart Johnson of Glastonbury: Stewart Johnson is a senior assistant state's attorney for the State of Connecticut. Previously, she was an instructor with the Southern Connecticut State University's Sociology Department and was an assistant district attorney for the Hampden County District Attorney Office in Massachusetts.
Anthony D. Truglia Jr. of Stamford: Truglia is a Stamford-based attorney with diverse experience in commercial law, specializing in real estate, litigation and corporate matters.