Gov. Dannel Malloy nominated two former Democratic state senators, the mayor of Manchester, and the chairwoman of the state parole board among 16 attorneys to the Superior Court bench Friday.
In addition, Malloy nominated two sitting judges – Eliot D. Prescott, 49, of West Hartford and Raheem L. Mullins, 36, of Cromwell – to serve on the powerful Appellate Court. Prescott gained prominence in the news recently by ordering the release of the 911 emergency telephone calls that were made to the police during the fatal shooting of 20 children and six female educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Malloy said he agreed with Prescott’s decision and “scholarly work” on releasing the 911 tapes, but added that did not impact the nomination to the appellate court. Mullins has served on the Superior Court bench for two years before being elevated to the state’s second-highest court.
Former Sen. Anthony Avallone has been a prominent Democratic insider for decades, serving in the state Senate for 10 years and being a longtime member of the influential Democratic National Committee. During his tenure in the legislature from 1983 to 1993, Avallone served at times as the co-chairman of the judiciary committee and the public safety committee, among other duties.
Avallone will be 67 years old in December, and the retirement age for judges is 70.
Despite serving for less than four full years as a judge, Avallone would be eligible for a large pension of about $100,000 per year for life. That is because the retirement rules and pensions for judges are far more lucrative than for other state employees.
Anyone serving as a judge who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 – regardless of how long they serve – can receive a pension of two-thirds of their final salary, according to judicial officials. The Superior Court judges are currently paid about $155,000 per year, and a two-thirds pension would be more than $100,000 per year.
Retired judges can also become senior judges and collect per diem rates of $232 per day to hear cases while still receiving their pensions.
Malloy’s spokesman, Andrew Doba, said that Avallone’s age was not a concern when Malloy made his nomination.
State Sen. Joseph Markley, who served with Avallone in the state Senate in 1985 and 1986, said he did not have a problem with Avallone’s age.
“That’s the sort of thing that makes you say the rules for the pension should be changed,” Markley said in an interview. “It doesn’t mean that Tony Avallone shouldn’t be a judge. I’m well disposed towards him because I knew him and I liked him” in the state Senate.
Regarding state pensions, Markley said, “We’ve been generous, and it’s something that we can’t afford any more.” Continue reading