Judge Cofield opts for retirement over difficult reappointment
Superior Court Judge E. Curtissa Cofield, who has twice been suspended over disciplinary issues in the past five years, notified the Judicial Selection Commission by email Tuesday that she is withdrawing her application for another term, according to two officials familiar with her application.
“She made the right decision,” said one of the officials who saw the email.
Cofield, 65, who has been serving in juvenile court in New Britain, could not be reached for comment. The Judicial Department had no comment on her status or plans. Her current eight-year term expires in June 2015.
Citing unnamed sources, The Hartford Courant reported last week that Cofield was seeking reappointment and had been interviewed by the Judicial Selection Commission.
A governor can only reappoint judges who have won the endorsement of the commission, whose proceedings are confidential. Had Cofield won the panel’s approval, she also would have needed the nomination of the governor and public confirmation of the General Assembly.
Cofield, a state prosecutor appointed to the bench in 1991 by Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr., was the first African American woman named a judge in Connecticut.
The Judicial Review Council, a disciplinary body for judges, suspended Cofield for 240 days in 2010 as punishment for several violations of the code of conduct relating to a drunk-driving arrest. The council concluded she had invoked her position as a Superior Court judge to influence and intimidate police, and she used disparaging, demeaning and racially inappropriate language against police officers.
The state police sergeant who was the target of most of her racial insults is black. Their interaction during her processing was videotaped.
At the time of her suspension, Cofield called the punishment overly harsh, but she declined to appeal.
More recently, Cofield was disciplined for failing to act in four cases involving children who had been removed from their parents for abuse or neglect. As The Courant reported, her inaction stalled adoptions or other permanent placements for the children.
The commission of the Department of Children and Families, former Supreme Court Justice Joette Katz, took the extraordinary step of seeking an Appellate Court order that compelled Cofield to rule in the four cases.
Cofield pleaded guilty at a Judicial Review Council hearing last year to one count of neglectfully and incompetently performing the duties of a judge.”
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