Judge Robinson Praised By Lawmakers At Confirmation Hearing
Appellate Court Judge Richard Robinson appears to be on track to become Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy's fourth appointment to the state Supreme Court.
Democratic Sen. Eric Coleman, co-chairman of the General Assembly's Judiciary Committee, said during an off-session confirmation hearing on Dec. 19 that he "doesn't anticipate any issue or difficulty" with Robinson's nomination moving successfully through the legislative process.
"I'm extremely excited concerning your nomination," said Coleman, adding how Robinson has a reputation as a conscientious and thoughtful jurist, someone who's a "straight shooter" and "fantastic colleague."
Malloy tapped Robinson to succeed Justice Flemming Norcott Jr., who reached the mandatory judge retirement age of 70 in October. Robinson first was appointed to the Superior Court bench in 2000 by former Republican Gov. John G. Rowland. He was promoted to the Appellate Court in 2007 by former Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell.
Robinson is the only black judge on the Appellate Court. If confirmed by the full General Assembly, which convenes in February, he would be the only black justice on the state's highest court.
While lawmakers appeared to have little concern with Robinson's judicial record or his answers to the committee's questionnaire, veteran Rep. Arthur O'Neill, R-Southbury, questioned some remarks Malloy made when he announced the appointment this month. Malloy, when asked about what he looks for in Supreme Court nominees, said he seeks potential justices "who have good common sense and understand real-life situations."
Malloy then added, "Quite frankly, if they pull for the underdog once in a while, it wouldn't bother me."
O'Neill, a Southbury attorney, said that comment "raised some red flags" because judges aren't supposed to show favoritism based on social standing. When he asked Robinson if he's made decisions in support of "the underdog," the nominee said no.
"I firmly believe going where the law takes me," he said.
O'Neill appeared satisfied, saying, "I think that's the right answer and the best answer to be given."