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House Unanimously Confirms Robinson For Supreme Court Chief

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State of Connecticut Judicial Branch

The first African-American nominated to be chief justice of Connecticut won the unanimous approval of the State House of Representatives on Monday.  

The 146 to 0 vote in support of Associate Justice Richard Robinson came as no surprise. Democrats and Republicans praised Robinson.

William Tong, a Democrat from Stamford who’s the House chair of the Judiciary Committee, called Robinson the right person at this time to lead Connecticut’s highest court and the state’s judicial branch. “Justice Robinson demonstrated throughout this process that he is more than ready to step up and take these responsibilities.”

Republican Rosa Rebimbas of Naugatuck, the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, also expressed high hopes for Robinson. “He did an excellent job during the public hearings. He’s got a wealth of experience and is well-qualified. And I’ve also had the opportunity to see and observe him in the Inns of Court in New Haven. And he is well respected by all of his colleagues. I certainly look forward to the judicial branch under his leadership.”

The House also unanimously approved the elevation of New Haven Superior Court Judge Steven Ecker to the State Supreme Court. Their nominations now head to the State Senate for approval.

Also on Monday, Republican members of the House voted against Democratic Governor Malloy’s new Superior Court judge nominees.

Representative Rebimbas said the State does not have a budget for the judges. “Not I or my colleagues can support another unfunded mandate that this will cause on our residents in the State of Connecticut.”

Democrats argued that Connecticut has a shortage of Superior Court judges. They include Representative Joe de la Cruz of Groton, whose son was murdered two years ago. The trial of the accused murderer is just about to begin, and DeLaCruz says that two years is too long to wait for a trial. “I’m afraid if we don’t appoint any judges this year—I’m not sure what the number would be—but if 25 retire from what we have now, are we going to go to a two- or three-year waiting list for trial?”

Democrats say it would cost about $5 million a year for the 31 new Superior Court judges, but they say most of the judges would be replacing judges who’ve retired. 

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.
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