Nominee Known For Handling 'Difficult Situations'

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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Richard Robinson
Richard Robinson

Also this year, Robinson penned a decision in a ruling against state Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, D-Harford, in an absentee ballot case in which she was fined by the State Elections Enforcement Commission. Gonzalez had been fined $4,500 for four counts of election law violations. In her appeal, Gonzalez argued that the hearing officer who imposed the fine, Stephen Cashman, was biased against her and should have recused himself.

Robinson, in the opinion, clearly explained why the court disagreed.

"To overcome the presumption of impartiality, the plaintiff was required to demonstrate that Cashman had prejudged the facts of this case," he wrote, explaining the record showed Cashmen acted as one of five commissioners who together found reason to believe Gonzalez violated the law.

Other appellate court decisions involved prejudgment remedies in civil cases. From the defense perspective, attorneys have long worried that when judges grant prejudgment remedies—such as forbidding one party to a lawsuit from selling property until a trial is held—that it tips the perception scale in favor of plaintiffs when the case goes to trial. From the plaintiff's perspective, attorneys worry the prejudgment remedy hearing would force them to tip their hand as to trial strategy.

In Gateway, Kelso & Co. v. West Hartford No. 1, Robinson held in 2011 that in a hearing on an application for a prejudgment remedy, a plaintiff does not have an opportunity to fully and fairly litigate the merits of its claim, and therefore, collateral estoppel effect should not be given to findings made based on such a hearing.

The decision, said lawyer David Dobin of Cohen and Wolf in an article on the ruling, "sheds light on the substantial procedural disparity" that exists between prejudgment remedy hearings and full scale trials on the merits.

At a Dec. 10 press conference, which happened to be Robinson's 56th birthday, Malloy said he first got to know Robinson back when he was the mayor of Stamford, and Robinson worked in the office of corporation counsel. He credited Robinson's ability for deep intellectual analysis among reasons he was chosen for the Supreme Court.

"I am truly humbled by the thought of being considered for this high honor," Robinson said. "I will truly miss my colleagues at the Appellate Court."

If confirmed, Robinson will replace 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 of 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."

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