News Column

Carmen Espinosa, First Hispanic Judge Headed For CT's Highest Court

January 9, 2013

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has taken another step in diversifying the state's judiciary by nominating state Appellate Judge Carmen Espinosa to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

If confirmed, the Puerto Rican-born Judge Espinosa would become the first Hispanic justice of the state Supreme Court. Two years ago,Mr. Malloy named her as the first Hispanic member of the appellate bench. In 1992, she became the first Hispanic judge on the state's Superior Court -- appointed by Gov. Lowell P. Weicker.

In December, Mr. Malloy nominated former state Sen. Andrew McDonald to the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Mr. McDonald would become the state's first openly gay Supreme Court justice.

Public confidence in the justice system swells when the courts reflect the population of the state.

Judge Espinosa, who is 63 and lives in Southington, has been an FBI agent and federal prosecutor and has had nearly two decades' experience on the state trial bench. That would bring a wealth of law-enforcement and criminal trial experience -- including capital cases -- to the court if she is confirmed.

State Sen. John A. Kissel, top-ranking Republican on the legislature's Judiciary Committee, enthusiastically supports Judge Espinosa's elevation to the Supreme Court, extolling her "fairness, thoughtfulness and an even temperament."

Mr. Kissel ought to go easy on the temperament thing. Known as a tough jurist, Judge Espinosa was rebuked by the state Supreme Court for arguing with a polite but persistent defendant in 1995, citing him for contempt of court three times and sentencing him to three months in jail on each count. The high court reversed two of the citations in a ruling that included unprecedented criticism of Judge Espinosa.

But that was a long time ago. The Supreme Court is a less emotional arena than a trial court, and Judge Espinosa has, with a few blips here and there, an otherwise impressive record.

Source: (c) 2013 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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