In addition to the current members of the state Supreme Court, only five judges are set to be pre-qualified by the state Judicial Selection Commission to take the reins of the Judicial Branch as chief justice, The Law Tribune has learned.
Two Superior Court judges and three Appellate Court judges have filled out the necessary chief justice application forms, three sources intimately familiar with the vetting process confirmed today. All five have been or are expected to be found qualified for the chief justice post, those sources said.
Bridgeport Superior Court Judge Richard E. Arnold, a Republican from Orange, won the commission's approval last summer, followed by Judge Dennis G. Eveleigh, a Hamden Democrat. New Canaan's Chase T. Rogers, a registered independent, who was appointed to the Appellate Court in February, also has received the commission's stamp of approval, the sources said.
The biggest surprise is former Appellate Court Judge Anne C. Dranginis, who stepped down from the bench earlier this year to become a partner at HartfordÂs Rome McGuigan. Sources said Dranginis and Appellate Court Judge C. Ian McLachlan, of Chester, are expected to have their final interview before the Judicial Selection Commission on Dec. 13. The commission typically grants a letter of approval for successful candidates within a day or two.
Because Connecticut's Supreme Court has the ability to grab interesting cases from the Appellate Court before they are decided and because Superior Court judges are constrained by Supreme Court precedent, it is hard to know where these potential Chief Justices stand on any spectrum. I will see what I can dig up in the next few days.
While former Chief Justice nominee Peter Zarella and Acting Chief Justice David Borden are largely considered out of the running (Zarella because of scandal surrounding his nomination and Borden because he is facing mandatory retirement soon), the other current Justices are eligible for elevation:
The other Supreme Court justices eligible for chief justice are all Democrats. They are Associate Justice Richard N. Palmer, of Cromwell, who was appointed by former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr., as was Justice Joette Katz, of Fairfield, and Justice Flemming L. Norcott Jr., of New Haven. Justice Christine S. Vertefeuille, of Cheshire, was appointed by Rell's predecessor, Gov. John G. Rowland.
It is interesting that, of the sitting Justices considered to be possibilities, they are all Democrats who were appointed by (at least nominally) Republican Governors.
The article notes that there is another short list, of fifteen names, of judges who are eligible for elevation to the Supreme Court, but not to the Chief Judge's chair. Those judges would come into play if one of the sitting Supreme Court Justices were to get tapped as Chief.
Update: I unbloggered the words that were "corrected" by the Blogger spell-checker.