Friday, December 15, 2006

Chief Justice Hunt Still Open

An article in the Connecticut Law Tribune reveals that the search for a Chief Justice is still open (registration required):

In a surprise development, the state Judicial Selection Commission has scheduled an extraordinary meeting for Monday, Dec. 18, presumably to allow an additional candidate or candidates to qualify for appointment by Gov. M. Jodi Rell to the position of chief justice.

At its Dec. 13 meeting, the commission gave final interviews to three candidates, sources familiar with the proceedings said afterward. If approved, those candidates would join two Superior Court judges who previously gained JSC clearance.

The article also has a short review of each (known) candidate. If I was a bettor, I would bet on former Appellate Judge Dranginis - she seemed to have been encouraged to get certification and she has a record both as a solid jurist and as a supporter of judicial openness.

Also in CLT is an editorial that asks not to close the book on Justice Zarella (no registration required):

There are those who believe she will not submit the name of her original nominee, Justice Peter Zarella, to avoid any criticism by naming him since his nomination gave rise to Sullivan's inappropriate conduct.

Gov. Rell, however, should treat Justice Zarella fairly and resubmit his name since there is no evidence that he engaged in any wrongdoing or even knew what Justice Sullivan had done until after Justice Richard Palmer reported Sullivan'’s decision to place a hold on a Supreme Court ruling in which he and Zarella were in the majority. Both Justices Zarella and Sullivan have so testified, but Justice Zarella asked the governor to withdraw his nomination because of the uproar.

First of all, given that it was Justice Zarella himself who asked for his name to be withdrawn, its unlikely that this is even an option for Governor Rell. Justice Zarella would have to indicate that he is willing to go through the confirmation process under a real or perceivied suspicion of some wrongdoing.

Second, even if Justice Zarella was willing, Governor Rell would have to be willing to dredge up the Sullivan scandal - something that everyone seems to be willing to put behind them.

A better option is mentioned at the end of the editorial:

Gov. Rell also has an opportunity to recognize Justice David Borden, who could serve as chief justice until August 2007, when he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70.
Justice Borden certainly has earned this act of recognition for his years of public service as a judge in the courts, his service as chairman of the Rules Committee and his shouldering of the burden, if not the mantle, of chief justice in recent months. In this context it should be noted that this Advisory Board published its opinion on the front page of this publication six years ago recommending Justice Borden'’s appointment as chief justice.

Again, by way of disclosure, I took Justice Borden's class and enjoyed it. Following this path would reward a Justice who stepped up in difficult times, would sail through the legislature, and would allow Governor Rell ample time to decide on a Chief Justice appointment without the pressure of the Sullivan scandal and failed Zarella nomination in her rear-view mirror.

Thomas B. Scheffey, Rell Keeps Door Open For CJ Post, Connecticut Law Tribune, December 14, 2006.
Law Tribune Advisory Board, Give Zarella Another Shot, Connecticut Law Tribune, December 14, 2006.


Anonymous said...

Borden is a bad idea. Rell needs to name someone who will be there for a long time and who can bring these junior high schoolers together somehow. Her idea of a woman seems to be a good one. A man would make a bad situation worse at this point.

Anonymous said...

someone please post the article for those not registered.

Genghis Conn said...

Borden would be an excellent choice. I've been very impressed by his commitment to judicial openness.

Genghis Conn said...

A12:32 - That would be a copyright violation.

Anonymous said...

Will some please give the "Webster's Dictionary" definition/duties/responsibilities of what the Chief Justice position entails in the State of CT? I know it varies from state to state.

Don Pesci said...

If you believe in homeopathic guilt -- One who touches the offending one is automatically guilty -- then Zarella would seem to be out. At this point Rell should be spoiling for a fight on Zarella. No one, after all the inquiries, has suggested that he has done anything wrong, and he is a brilliant jurist. The McCarthyites won't like him, but who cares about them. Borden is due for retirement soon.

Anonymous said...

Rell can appoint Borden now and then appoint his successor during her current term. If she really wants to appoint Zarella, this would be the way to do it as the furor over the Sullivan mess will have died down by the time Borden reaches the age of 70. My money, however, is on Dranginis.

CC said...

As I have written extensively, I FIRMLY believe that in writing to the senate judiciary committee Justice Borden violated the very same concept that applied to Justice Sullivan: improper influence of a political (confirmation) process. Borden chose to enter the political arena despite the existence of a sole remedy allowed by law for the disciplining of judge's. This was HIGHLY improper, not worthy of celebration. Justice Borden's legacy will be of sour grapes for having been passed over for Chief Justice.

Anonymous said...

I have heard Judge Patrick Carroll's name.... and he is going for an interview with Judicial Selection...

He is a fine judge and would make a great Chief Justice.