Gov. Dannel P. Malloy nominated three men and three women to the Superior Court on Thursday, including Anna M. Ficeto, the legal counsel of his Republican predecessor, and Maureen M. Murphy, a civil-rights lawyer involved in the lawsuit that gave same-sex couples the right to marry in Connecticut.



With his previous nomination to the Superior Court, Malloy now has selected four women for a trial bench in which women are outnumbered 2-1. Overall, the state’s judiciary is nearly 70 percent male.

“I want diversity: racial diversity and gender diversity and diversity of experience,” Malloy said.

His choices were quickly applauded by the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, which faulted him in November for failing to keep a promise to name women to half the top posts in his administration. The commission says 34.4 percent are women.

“By consciously taking steps toward ‘diversity of thought, diversity of experience, diversity of gender’ he is moving the state’s judiciary closer to gender parity,” said Teresa C. Younger, executive director of the commission. “We hope he carries this stance — in both words and actions — to all levels of government and encourages it in all three branches of government.”



Malloy, the first Democratic governor in two decades, said he made his selections with recommendations from the leaders of the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, but not the Republican minority.

With the state facing a budget crisis, Malloy made only one Superior Court appointment in his first year. The trial bench has 23 vacancies, but the governor expects to fill only a half-dozen of those slots.

Beyond those vacancies, Malloy said, he intends to replace the seven to 10 other Superior Court judges who are expected to retire this year.

Malloy’s nominees are:

  • Ficeto, 47, of Wolcott, the former legal counsel to Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell. Ficeto, who is now a director of the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, is a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College and the University of Connecticut School of Law.
  • Murphy, 61, of Middletown, a civil rights lawyer who represented gay and lesbian couples in a court challenge that led in 2008 to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Connecticut. She and her wife are among the couples who have taken advantage of the right to marry.
  • Donna Nelson Heller, 57, of Greenwich, a senior commercial litigation partner at Finn Dixon & Herling in Stamford. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and has an MBA and a law degree from the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Leeland J. Cole-Chu, 63, of Salem, a partner with Cole-Chu & Cipparone in New London, whose specialty is land-use law. He has a B.A. from Harvard, a master’s degree in urban studies from Occidental College and a law degree from the University of San Francisco.
  • Raheem L. Mullins, 33, of Cromwell, an appellate lawyer in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney. He is a former assistant attorney general. He is a graduate of Clark University and Northeastern University School of Law.
  • Kenneth B. Povodator, 63, of Fairfield, an assistant corporation counsel in Stamford, where Malloy was mayor for 14 years. He has a B.S. from Syracuse University, a graduate chemistry degree from Yale, a law degree from UConn and a master of law from the University of Bridgeport.

Mullins, who is African American, would be joining a trial bench that now has 11 black men. Cole-Chu, who is half-Chinese, would be one of four Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders.

New judges

Mark is the Capitol Bureau Chief and a co-founder of CT Mirror. He is a frequent contributor to WNPR, a former state politics writer for The Hartford Courant and Journal Inquirer, and contributor for The New York Times.

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