On the morning of July 11, state prosecutor Gail Hardy made the nervous Connecticut commute from Waterbury to Hartford knowing she would be the third candidate to interview with a panel that was picking a new state’s attorney for the Hartford Judicial District.

By late morning, she was doing her best to impress a group that included such notable figures as state Supreme Court Justice Richard N. Palmer and Chief State’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane. Hardy left the interview as anxious as when she began, knowing that eight more applicants still had a chance to make an impression on Connecticut’s seven-member Criminal Justice Commission.