Superior Court Judge Dawne G. Westbrook long has been among those mentioned as a likely candidate for elevation to a higher court. On Thursday, Gov. Ned Lamont moved her from the ranks of the mentioned to the nominated.
Westbrook, 53, of Glastonbury was nominated as a judge of the Appellate Court, the second-highest court in Connecticut. If confirmed by the General Assembly, she would succeed Eliot D. Prescott, who took senior status this week.
A trial judge since 2009, Westbrook currently is the chief administrative judge for juvenile matters. She is a graduate of a historically Black university, Fisk University, and the Vanderbilt University School of Law.
“Judge Westbrook has served the Connecticut Superior Court with distinction for more than a decade and has taken a hands-on role with overseeing the administration of thousands of cases involving children under 18 years old,” Lamont said in his announcement.
Westbrook’s nomination comes after the governor’s choice of Nora R. Dannehy, a former federal prosecutor, for the Supreme Court prompted some advocates and lawmakers to urge Lamont to consider a woman of color with a background in public interest law for future openings.
Westbrook had been an assistant counsel to the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, a legal redress counsel for the NAACP and a board member of the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund.
“We were talking to a fair number of judges, “ Lamont said. “I got to know Dawne, thought very highly of her, liked her experience. And so it was always in the back of my mind when it came to the next opening.”
Prescott notified the governor a month ago of his intention to take senior status in October, giving Lamont an opportunity for another nomination. The Connecticut Mirror reported last month she was on Lamont’s short list.
The Democratic co-chairs of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Gary Winfield of New Haven and Rep. Steve Stafstrom of Bridgeport, said they welcomed her nomination.
With the General Assembly out of session, only a vote of the Judiciary Committee is necessary for her to take a seat on the Appellate Court. She then will face confirmation for a full eight-year term when the legislature returns in 2024.