Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday announced his nomination of state Appellate Court Judge Richard Robinson to the Connecticut Supreme Court.
Robinson has known Malloy for more than 25 years, stemming back to his time as assistant corporation counsel of Stamford when Malloy was mayor.
“I am truly humbled by the thought of being considered for this high honor,” Robinson said.
If confirmed, Robinson will be a replacement for Justice Flemming Norcott Jr., who reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 this fall. Norcott had been the only African-American justice on the court since Lubbie Harper Jr. also reached retirement age in 2012.
“Judge Robinson has been an attentive, measured jurist during his 13 years on the bench, making him an ideal candidate for the bench,” Malloy said when he announced his nomination. “Serving on our state’s highest court is an immense duty, as it is the final arbiter on issues that impact virtually every aspect of our lives.”
Robinson was distinquished from a list of 20 contenders for his “intellect and a wealth of experience” that extends beyond the bench, Malloy said, including holding leadership positions with the NAACP and Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.
“I am confident that the General Assembly will agree that having Judge Robinson on the Supreme Court will serve the people of Connecticut well,” Malloy said.
It marks Malloy’s fourth nomination to the seven-member court during his tenure as governor. In addition to Harper, Malloy has nominated Andrew McDonald and Carmen Espinosa. McDonald, a long-time state lawmaker who had been serving as an aide to Malloy, is the first openly gay justice. Espinosa, who had been an Appellate Court judge, is the first Latina justice.
Given Malloy’s record, members of affinity bar groups expressed hope in October, when Norcott reached the mandatory retirement date, that Malloy would choose as his replacement another member of a minority group.
At the time, judicial observers named Robinson as a possible front runner.
Another African-American jurist believed to be on the radar was Superior Court Judge Angela C. Robinson, a former Bridgeport lawyer and no relation to the Appellate Court judge.
“We anticipate that Governor Malloy will nominate an individual who not only has a deep understanding of the law, but one who has also shown commitment to equal access and fair play in our legal system,” Genea O. Bell, the president of the George C. Crawford Black Bar Association, said in October. “It is our hope that the next justice will bring to the court a diversity of philosophy and perspective that reflects the growing racial and cultural diversity of Connecticut’s population and legal community.”
At the same time, Edward C. Lee, president of the Connecticut Asian Pacific Bar Association, said people of Asian-Pacific heritage are the fastest growing segment of the state and deserve to be represented, at some point, by an appellate-level judge.
Lee, who is president of the Connecticut Asian Pacific Bar Association, said the appointment of an Asian Pacific-American person to the Supreme Court would help the state’s justice system better reflect the state’s population. There are currently five APA judges on the Superior Court, but none in the appellate division, he said.
“The APA community have an estimated population of 157,000 in Connecticut and are the fastest growing minority population in the state,” Lee said. “The APA community is too significant to be ignored, and it would be a boost to the Malloy administration if an APA is appointed as a Supreme Court justice.”