Hartford lawyer Michael P. Shea was confirmed 72 to 23 by the U.S. Senate to become Connecticut’s newest U.S. District Judge.

Shea heads the appellate practice section at Day Pitney. Nominated by U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman in February, Shea had been denied a vote all year due to partisan gridlock in Congress, which has stalled the appointment of judicial nominees in the Obama administration.

Shea was picked from a lineup of 18 federal court nominees awaiting possible votes during the lame duck weeks of the Congress. Academically and professionally accomplished, Shea was not considered a controversial pick before Wednesday’s vote, although he lacks any judicial experience. He was senior editor of the Yale Law Journal and clerked for James L. Buckley at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

In 2005, as part of a court-appointed legal team, Shea worked with Day Pitney partner Thomas Groark, raising arguments over serial killer Michael Ross’s competence to waive legal representation and opt for the death penalty. More recently, Shea was a key member of the legal team defending St.Francis Hospital from allegations that it inadequately supervised pedophile doctor George Reardon.

Appellate lawyer Proloy Das, of Rome McGuigan, said of Shea, “He is one of Connecticut’s finest appellate minds who has never backed down from challenging issues, from Ross to Reardon. He will be a true asset to the federal courts.”

“This is terrific news,” said Patrick J. McHugh, of Stamford’s Finn, Dixon & Herling, co-chair of the Connecticut Bar Association’s federal practice section. “I’ve been in court against Mike Shea, and I’ve worked side by side with him. He’s a great addition to a bench that sorely needs him.”

The selection of Shea comes not a moment too soon for the federal court in Connecticut.

In late September, Chief U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson called in the aid of nine federal trial judges from around the country to help relieve the burdens on Connecticut’s 13 active and senior judges.

On Oct. 1, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Kravitz died at 62 of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Shea is replacing Christopher Droney, who was elevated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in Nov. 2011 by a vote of 88-0.

Another appointee to the Second Circuit, Susan Carney, assistant general counsel for Yale University, was approved in May, 2011 by a vote of 71-28.