Gov. Dannel P. Malloy nominated 15 new Superior Court judges Thursday, including many with familiar names in the political and legal worlds.
The choices include former state Senator Andrew Roraback, one of the most prominent Republicans in the state legislature who lost a Congressional race in November to Democrat Elizabeth Esty. Roraback, 52, was seen as potentially the toughest opponent for Esty in 2014, but now that will not be the case. In last year’s race, Roraback won 31 of 41 towns, but Esty pulled ahead with wide margins in the Democratic strongholds of Meriden, New Britain, Danbury and Waterbury in a year with President Barack Obama at the top of the ballot.
A member of the legislature for the past 18 years, Roraback was seen as the Lou Gehrig of the General Assembly with a long, unbroken streak of casting more than 8,800 votes without missing one.
Malloy said that he never spoke about Roraback’s nomination to Esty “nor would I have discussed that with anyone” in the confidential process. Among political insiders, Roraback was widely expected to battle against Esty for a second time, and Malloy said that he had been on the Judicial Selection Commission’s list of potential judges for “at least a week.”
Some applicants are approved by the selection commission and then wait literally for years in the hope that a governor will nominate them to be a judge. While the judicial branch currently has 30 vacancies for judges, Malloy said that he intends to leave 15 seats vacant after this group of 15 is approved by the legislature.
Malloy also nominated longtime Superior Court Judge Christine E. Keller of Hartford for a seat on the appellate court, the state’s second-highest court. Keller, who is married to former House Speaker Thomas Ritter, first became a judge in August 1993 under then-Gov. Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. Both Tom Ritter and his son, state Rep. Matthew Ritter, attended the announcement outside Malloy’s second-floor office.
Six of Thursday’s nominees graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Law, while two attended Ivy League law schools. The nominees must be approved by both the state House of Representatives and the Senate.
Malloy also nominated Anthony D. Truglia, Jr., 53, a commercial lawyer from one of the best-known Democratic political families in Stamford.
“I knew his dad, knew his mom,” said Malloy, the former mayor of Stamford for 14 years.
His father, Anthony D. Truglia, died following a car crash on Route 3 in Glastonbury in July 1987, and his sudden death at the age of 60 shocked his supporters in Stamford and beyond. His mother, Christel, retired in 2009 after 20 years in the state legislature.
Malloy nominated Shelley A. Marcus of Branford, the 61-year-old daughter of former state senator and former state Democratic chairman Edward Marcus, who is now 85 years old. She has worked at the family law firm for more than 20 years, as well as being the chief screening counsel for the House Democrats.
One insider said that the pick makes sense because Ed Marcus was a very early supporter of Malloy for governor.
“Ed, for years, was trying to make Shelley a judge,” the insider.
Another nominee with a political pedigree is Thomas G. Moukawsher of Groton, a former Democratic state legislator in the early 1990s who graduated from the Citadel in 1983 and UConn law school in 1986. His brother, Edward, was also later elected in 2002 to the same seat as a state legislator from the well-known political family in southeastern Connecticut. Tom, 52, who now specializes in employee benefits law, served as counsel to the state Democratic Party under chairmen John Olsen and George Jepsen and served as an adviser to then-Senate President Pro Tem John B. Larson of East Hartford.
Another former legislator on the list is Maurice B. Mosley of Waterbury, who served for 10 years in the General Assembly before later becoming counsel to Waterbury’s school department.
From the defense bar, Malloy chose Karen A. Goodrow of Chester, a former public defender who serves as the director of the Connecticut Innocence Project that has used DNA evidence to help wrongfully convicted inmates to be released from prison. He also picked Hope Seeley, 48, a well-known member of the duo of Santos and Seeley who defended former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez, a convicted felon who is now appealing his sentence on corruption charges.
Santos and Seeley also defended Michael Skakel, who was convicted of murdering Martha Moxley with a golf club in an upscale, waterfront neighborhood in the Belle Haven section of Greenwich in 1975.
Thursday’s list also included Michael A. Albis, a 59-year-old Yale graduate who is the father of 28-year-old state Rep. James Albis of East Haven. The elder Albis is a former probate judge and an adjunct faculty member at Quinnipiac University in Hamden.
Nominee Jason M. Lobo of Suffield is a former college basketball player who is the brother of Hall of Famer Rebecca Lobo of the University of Connecticut. Jason Lobo works as a supervising assistant attorney general after previously being an attorney in private practice.
The other nominees are Sheila A. Huddleston of West Hartford, a Yale Law School graduate who is a partner at Shipman & Goodwin in Hartford; Michael P. Kamp of Hamden, an Emory University law school graduate who works at Loughlin Fitzgerald in Wallingford; and Charles T. Lee of Greenwich, a law partner in Stamford who graduated from Harvard College and Columbia Law School.
Malloy also nominated Thomas D. Colin of Ridgefield, a partner in Greenwich who graduated from St. John’s University law school in New York; Melanie L. Cradle of Middlefield, a state prosecutor since 2002 who graduated from Seton Hall University law school; and Robyn Stewart Johnson of Glastonbury, a prosecutor who attended the Western New England University law school.
The Courant’s Daniela Altimari reports that Roraback’s acceptance of a judgeship is a huge political blow for Republicans who are trying to recapture the 5th District Congressional seat from Esty.