The Hartford Courant’s longtime court reporter, Edmund Mahony, reports:
The field of candidates for a much sought-after federal judgeship in Connecticut has narrowed.
A committee appointed by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy to screen candidates has chosen five finalists for further consideration by the two senators. One of them will likely be nominated by President Obama for the $174,000-a-year lifetime appointment.
Neither Blumenthal nor Murphy would name the finalists. But others following the process said they are:
- Victor Bolden, New Haven’s corporation counsel. Bolden supervised the legal effort a year ago that evicted Occupy protestors from New Haven Green, as well as the city’s defense of a reverse discrimination suit by white firefighters.
- Nora Dannehy, deputy state attorney general and former acting U.S. Attorney and assistant U.S. Attorney. Dannehy is second in command at the attorney general’s office. While with the U.S. Attorney, Dannehy directed some of the state’s most significant public corruption prosecutions, including those of former Gov. John Rowland and former Treasurer Paul Silvester. She was a clerk for U.S. District Judge T. Emmet Clarie.
- Maria Araujo Kahn, state Superior Court judge and former assistant U.S. Attorney. Kahn prosecuted medical, financial and computer frauds as a federal prosecutor. She was appointed to the state court by Gov. M. Jodi Rell. She emigrated to the U.S with her family from Angola at age 10 and, after law school, worked as a clerk for former federal district Judge Peter Dorsey, who naturalized her.
- Jeffrey Meyer, law professor and former assistant U.S. Attorney. Meyer, a commentator on legal issues, teaches at the Yale and Quinnipiac University law schools. He was senior counsel to the independent inquiry into United Nations Oil-For-Food Program. He is credited, while at the U.S. Attorney’s office, with turning a substandard appellate program into one of the most efficient in the Second Circuit. He clerked for associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun.
- Barry Stevens, state Superior Court judge and former assistant U.S. Attorney. Stevens represented the federal government in civil and financial litigation in the 1980s. As a Superior Court judge, appointed by former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr. in 1994, Stevens presided over a complex suit by a developer who claimed to have lost millions of dollars in business to corrupt practices during the administration of former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim.
The senior senator of the president’s political party has traditionally recommended federal judicial nominees to the White House. Blumenthal and Murphy are following a practice established by their predecessors and will jointly recommend candidates, based on recommendations of the committee of lawyers and academics, members of which they appointed.
“Senator Murphy and I hope to submit names to the president very shortly,” Blumenthal said Thursday.
The last time a federal judicial vacancy was filled in Connecticut, Blumenthal and then-Sen. Joseph Lieberman submitted four candidates to the White House. Blumenthal would not say how many candidates would be recommended this time and Murphy could not be reached.
Whoever Obama nominates must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate and will replace U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz, a highly regarded jurist who died in September.
Federal judges hold significant influence over legal affairs in the state and, as a result, it is something of a parlor game among the bar to speculate on who may be pursuing a judgeship.
Several observers have noted the high proportion of former federal prosecutors among the current candidates. While the appointment of assistant federal prosecutors is common elsewhere, it has been relatively rare in Connecticut.
The federal District Court in Connecticut has positions for eight judges. There also are five senior, or semi-retired judges in Connecticut.