The legislature’s Judiciary Committee voted Monday night to endorse the nominations of 13 new judges of the Superior Court, despite uncertainty over whether the judiciary will have sufficient funds to pay their salaries or provide support personnel.
“We have approximately $6 million worth of new judges here, maybe five,” said Rep. Toni Walker, D-New Haven, who is co-chair of the Appropriations Committee. “I’m concerned.”
Walker said she was unsure how she would vote when the nominations come before the House of Representatives.
The committee also endorsed the nominations of Judges Nina F. Elgo and Maria Araujo Kahn to the Appellate Court. Once those two trial judges are confirmed by the House and Senate, 39 of the 185 authorized Superior Court positions will be vacant.
With one of every five authorized positions vacant, the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says the nominations are necessary to provide justice. The governor plans up to four more nominations, though not during the regular legislative session that ends June 7.
“These appointments represent a fraction of the current vacancies and will help ensure that the court is able to conduct its business in a timely fashion,” said Chris Collibee, a spokesman for Malloy.
The union representing state judicial branch and criminal justice employees criticized the nominations of any new judges while the budget for the next fiscal year is unresolved. Union members were laid off last year.
“The state and the branch are spending money unwisely on essentially lifetime appointments for managerial-level employees, while asking its lowest paid to give back – or face the unemployment line. It makes no sense and it sends the absolute wrong message to the workers we represent,” said Charles DellaRocco, the president of AFSCME Local 749.