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Robinson Becomes Conn.'s First African-American Supreme Court Chief

State of Connecticut Judicial Branch

Richard Robinson has become the first African-American chief justice of Connecticut. The 60-year-old associate justice of the State Supreme Court was unanimously confirmed by the State Senate, 36-0, on Thursday. He was confirmed by the House on Monday.

Robinson, a Stratford resident, who has served on the Connecticut bench for the past 18 years, received praise from both sides of the aisle. State Senate Republican President Len Fasano says he was impressed by Robinson’s judicial philosophy that the courts should treat everyone fairly.

“From a lawyer to a judge, to the Superior Court to the Appellate Court, to the Supreme Court, he has worn all those shoes, and understands the complexity that the Court offers. So, Madam President, I think the Governor has made an excellent choice. The fact that he is the first African-American chief justice is important. But the fact that he is going to be a great chief justice matter more.”

Fasano had lead the Republican opposition to Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy’s initial nominee, State Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald, a longtime friend and ally of the Governor. McDonald would have been the first openly gay state chief justice in the country.

While he didn't bring up McDonald's name, Fasano praised Robinson for his "methodology" in reaching legal decisions, saying it differentiates him from "other potential candidates." Republicans accused McDonald of being an "activist jurist," a claim he denied.

Malloy says the approval of Robinson still makes history in Connecticut.

New Haven Superior Court Judge Steven Ecker has also been confirmed to take Robinson’s places as an associate justice of the high court.  

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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