Gov. Dannel P. Malloy nominated 16 Superior Court and two Appellate Court judges Friday, the largest and possibly last class of judicial nominees of the Democratic governor’s first term.
Malloy’s appellate nominees are Eliot D. Prescott, 49, of West Hartford, the judge who ordered the release of the Newtown 9-1-1 recordings last year, and Raheem L. Mullins of Cromwell, a former appellate lawyer who is one of the state’s youngest jurists. Mullins, a Superior Court judge since February 2012, turned 36 on Monday.
The governor’s choices for the Superior Court included several with political pedigrees, most notably Anthony V. Avallone, 66, of New Haven, a lobbyist and Democratic National Committee member who was co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee as a state senator more than two decades ago.
If his latest nominees are confirmed by the General Assembly, Malloy will have appointed 38 Superior Court judges. He has greatly increased the ranks of women on the bench, while making more modest gains in naming racial and ethnic minorities. Ten of his previous 22 trial court nominees were women, as were six of the 16 nominated Friday.
“I think we’re moving the court in an appropriate direction,” Malloy said. “I would like to see more diversity, and we’re starting to see more diversity in the groups I can consider.”
Connecticut governors must choose judicial nominees from a pool of candidates screened and reviewed by the independent Judicial Selection Commission.
As of Dec. 31, women held 55 of the state’s 161 Superior Court judgeships, three of nine seats on the Appellate Court and two of seven on the Supreme Court. There were 22 black trial judges of the Superior Court, including nine women. All four Hispanic trial judges are men.
The only Hispanic woman on the bench in Connecticut at any level is Carmen Espinosa, a long-time trial judge whom Malloy named to the Appellate Court in 2011 and then to the Supreme Court in 2013.
Two of the lawyers nominated Friday to the Superior Court are black, another is Hispanic. Mullins is one of the five black judges Malloy has named to the trial bench. Two of Malloy’s four appointments to the Supreme Court and one of his four to the Appellate Court are black.
Mullins will succeed Stuart D. Bear, who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 in May. Mullians is a graduate of Clark University and Northeastern University School of Law. Prescott will succeed Richard A. Robinson, whom Malloy named to the Supreme Court in December. Prescott is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and the University of Connecticut School of Law.
The Superior Court still will have have 10 vacancies after these nominees are confirmed. Malloy said he has no plans to make more nominations during the legislature’s 2014 session, which ends in May.
Malloy’s latest nominees come from a mix of private practice and state service:
- Avallone is a self-employed lawyer with offices in New Haven and Milford. A registered lobbyist, he also is general counsel to the Manufacturing Alliance of Connecticut. He is a B.A. from the University of Connecticut and a J.D. from Suffolk University School of Law.
- Timothy D. Bates of Groton. He Bates is a partner at Robinson and Cole, practicing in its New London office. Previously, he served with several law firms in New London County. He has a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.
- Leo V. Diana of Manchester. He is the Democratic mayor, a title granted to the top vote-getter in the election for its local governing body, the Board of Directors. He has a B.A. from the University of Connecticut and a J.D. from Western New England School of Law.
- Steven D. Ecker of New Haven. He is a partner with Cowdery, Ecker & Murphy in Hartford. He was a law clerk for Jon O. Newman of the U.S. Court of Appeals. Ecker has a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
- Tammy D. Geathers of Bloomfield. She is assistant attorney general, serving in the Employment Rights Department since 2001. She is a former public defender in Hartford and Atlanta. She has B.A. from Howard University and a J.D. from University of Connecticut School of Law.
- Jane K. Grossman of Hamden. She is currently serving a three-year term as a family support magistrate, appointed by Malloy in 2011. She is a former legal aid lawyer in New Haven. Grossman received a B.A. from Quinnipiac University and a J.D. from Quinnipiac University School of Law.
- Irene Prosky Jacobs of West Haven. She is a partner with Jacobs & Jacobs in New Haven, practices civil litigation. She also was a middle school and high school teacher in New Haven and St. Louis. She has a B.A. from SUNY Buffalo, an M.A. from Wesleyan University and a J.D. from University of Connecticut School of Law.
- Ingrid L. Moll of West Hartford. She is a trial and appellate attorney with Motley Rice, focusing on complex commercial litigation and consumer protection. She was a law clerk to Justice David M. Borden of the Connecticut Supreme Court from 1999 to 2001. She has a B.A. from Wheaton College and a J.D. from University of Connecticut School of Law.
- John D. Moore of West Hartford. He is associate group general counsel with Travelers Special Liability Group, where he has served since 1990. He was a teacher at Northwest Catholic High School in West Hartford, where he taught English and Religious Studies. He has a B.A. and a M.A.L.S. from Wesleyan University a J.D. from University of Connecticut School of Law.
- Kevin J. Murphy of Berlin. He is a supervisory assistant state’s attorney in Bristol and a former federal prosecutor and Navy lawyer. He has a B.A. from Georgetown University College of Arts and Sciences and a J.D. from Catholic University School of Law.
- Robert Nastri Jr. of Cheshire. He is a partner with Tinley, Nastri, Renehan & Dost in Waterbury and was a municipal police officer. He has a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a J.D. from University of Connecticut School of Law.
- Cesar A. Noble of West Hartford. He is president and managing partner of Noble, Spector & O’Connor in Hartford. He also a member of the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. He has a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a J.D. from University of Connecticut School of Law.
- Rupal Shah Palanki of West Hartford. She has been an assistant attorney general for 11 years. She received her B.A. from College of the Holy Cross and her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.
- Kevin S. Russo of Shelton. He is a supervisory assistant state’s attorney, a position he has held since 2007. Previous jobs include an FBI post and six years as a union ironworker. He has a B.S. from Southern Connecticut State University and a J.D. from Western New England College School of Law.
- Steven Spellman of Groton. He is a former Democratic state senator who is chief of staff and director of government affairs at the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection. In his resignation as commissioner of the department, Reuben Bradford made a plea for his appointment to the bench. Spellman has a B.A. from Union College and a J.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- Erika M. Tindill of New Haven. She is the chairwoman of the Connecticut Board of Pardons and Paroles, appointed in 2011 by Malloy. She has a B.A. from Bucknell University and a J.D. from Albany Law School.
Malloy also nominated Thomas J. Mullins of Farmington to the Workers’ Compensation Commission and Gladys Idelis Nieves of New Haven and Wayne R. Keeney of Greenwich as family support magistrates.
The list of Malloy’s previous judicial appointments:
Lubbie Harper Jr.*
Andrew J. McDonald
Richard A. Robinson
* Harper retired and was succeeded by McDonald.
Michael R. Sheldon
Christine E. Keller
*Espinosa was later appointed to the Supreme Court.
Leeland J. Cole-Chu
Anna M. Ficeto
Donna Nelson Heller
Raheem L. Mullins
Maureen McCabe Murphy
Kenneth B. Povodator
Michael A. Albis
Thomas D. Colin
Melanie L. Cradle
Karen A. Goodrow
Sheila A. Huddleston
Michael P. Kamp
Charles T. Lee
Jason M. Lobo
Shelley A. Marcus
Maurice B. Mosley
Thomas G. Moukawsher
Hope Colleen Seeley
Robyn Stewart Johnson
Anthony D. Truglia Jr.