CHAIRMEN: Senator McDonald Representative Lawlor

VICE CHAIRMEN: Senator Handley Representative Fox


SENATORS: Kissel, Coleman, Doyle, Gomes, McLachlan, Meyer, Roraback

REPRESENTATIVES: O'Neill, Aman, Barry, Berger, Clemons, Conway, Coutu, Dillon, Fritz, Godfrey, Gonzalez, Green, Hamm, Hamzy, Hewett, Hetherington,

Holder-Winfield, Hurlburt, Klarides, Labriola, Morris, Olson, Reeves, Roldan, Rowe, Serra, Spallone, Taborsak, Tong, Walker, Wright

SENATOR McDONALD: Just as a baseline, if you have a cell phone could you please turn it onto vibrate or silent so it's not interrupting any of the testimony that we have from any of the nominees that are before us today.

If any members of the public are here and would like to sign up to testify about any of the nominees before the Committee today, there is a sign-up sheet over by the door; please sign up over there. If you have any testimony you would like to submit to the Committee with respect to any nominee, please make sure that you make that known to our staff.

And if there are no opening, other opening statements from anybody, the first nominee to be a Senior Judge is the Honorable Francis J. Foley, III of Hanover.

Good morning, your Honor. Would you please raise your right hand? Do you swear that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

FRANCIS FOLEY: (Inaudible.)

SENATOR McDONALD: Please have a seat. And you if could just hit the button so your microphone goes on, we'd be happy to have any opening statement you have for the Committee.


Chairman McDonald, Chairman Lawlor, distinguished members of the Judiciary Committee, I am pleased to come before this Committee, and I wish to express my gratitude to Governor Rell for nominating me to a third term as a Judge of the Superior Court. It has been my great responsibility and privilege to have served the State of Connecticut for the past 16 years.

I am presently a Senior Judge and currently the Presiding Judge of the Child Protection Session of the Superior Court in Willimantic. This court is a regional court, serving Tolland, Windham, and New London Judicial Districts. It is an extremely busy court handling contested neglect, and termination of parental rights cases. There are presently only five judges in Connecticut who devote their time to this work.

In 1996, Aaron -- Judge Aaron Ment, then the Chief Court Administrator, asked me to become the first Presiding Judge of the new Child Protection Session in Middletown. And it was my task to staff the new court and set up the operating protocols for this court. It has been my pleasure and my challenge to do child protection work for most of my judicial career.

As a judge, I have had numerous criminal assignments including serving for five years as the Administrative Judge in the Judicial District of Windham, doing principally Part A criminal work. After a short stint in Norwich G.A., I returned again to Child Protection at the regional court in Willimantic, and I have been doing this present assignment for the past three years.

I have been on the faculty of the Connecticut Judge's Institute three times and will be facilitating a workshop on permanency planning for children at the Judicial Institute, this summer.

I have, this morning, received a very large document by Stephen Williams in opposition to my appointment. In anticipation of

Mr. Williams appearing before you, I have included with my submission to you a -- you asked for five written decisions, and I -- one of those decisions that I submitted to you is the decision in which I suspended Mr. Williams from the practice of law. And it is my understanding, also, that he may testify later against me, and if he does, I would at this time waive my right to respond to anything that he might say.

That summarizes my judicial career, and I look forward with your approval to continue my public service as a Senior Judge. Thank you, and I will be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much, your Honor.

Now, actually, just as a procedural matter, I appreciate the waiver that you mentioned, although we'd be happy to have you make that decision after you hear what Mr. Williams might say. But on that point, back in February of last year, we received a letter from Mr. Williams concerning your military record, and we forwarded that on to the Chief Court Administrator's Office and received back a letter from the Chief Court Administrator in March of 2008 responding to the items which were raised in the correspondence from Attorney Williams. And at that time, at least, the issue of Mr. William's suspension

-- it was a suspension from the practice of law -- was under appeal to the Appellate Court. Is that matter still pending in the Appellate Court?




SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. It's not -- it's not now in the Supreme Court, it's still --

FRANCIS FOLEY: Actually --

SENATOR McDONALD: -- dwelling in --

FRANCIS FOLEY: -- I have not followed that, even a little. I -- but I've never seen a decision from the courts on the matter.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. I appreciate that. Okay.

While the other leadership is orienting themselves to some of the materials, I -- I know that Representative Coutu wanted to make a statement or ask a question.

REP. COUTU: Thank you, Chairman.

Welcome and congratulations, and congratulations on your 41 years of marriage. And thank you for serving our country and your long-term service to the bench and the judiciary system. I know you're an asset to Hanover and Sprague, and we appreciate your commitment, your service, and I just wanted to welcome you and say thank you for doing what you do.

FRANCIS FOLEY: Thank you for your remarks, and it was a pleasure meeting you this morning. Thank you, sir.

SENATOR McDONALD: Representative O'Neill.

REP. O'NEILL: Yes. Good morning, your Honor. There is this rather large document which I just got, and I haven't -- I'm not a speed reader, so there's no -- hardly any chance I've gotten to it -- very far into it. So I'm not going to ask too many questions about that because I haven't read it, and so I couldn't ask any intelligent questions at this point.

The -- however, one of the things that we received and we've been receiving from -- for all the nominees before us, have been these comments from -- that were gathered. And one of them -- and it seems they're basically fairly favorable towards you -- but it raised the question or it makes a statement about having an attitude towards DCF. And while I might share some of, concerns about DCF, I'm just curious if you could respond to -- if you've read it. First of all, I ask if you've read those comments.

FRANCIS FOLEY: I -- I read it. It was -- if it's the blog you're talking about?

REP. O'NEILL: Yes, it is.

FRANCIS FOLEY: I -- of all those criminal defense lawyers, I guess I received one blog. And, you know, and actually what happened, I want to just talk about that. When I was going through a Judicial Selection Commission, everything seemed very favorable, it was rolling along nicely. I was having a pleasant conversation with people in the Judicial Selection. And then the very last question was asked to me, We received some notice that you hate DCF. I mean, that just stunned me, and I actually don't think I replied very well to it. But then I recently got a copy of that blog, and I see where that came from. The -- the person said that I'm a wonderful advocate for children but that I hate -- that I hate DCF. That's an absurd statement. I mean, it's just absurd.

I don't hate DCF. I have great respect for DCF and I'm -- and I'm serving on their Program Improvement Planning Committee for DCF right now on permanency planning for children. Virtually, I would -- I would say that

95 percent of every decision I've ever written has been favorable to DCF.

I have -- I do from time to time criticize the practices that I see that are unfavorable. I speak out when they don't pay enough attention to missing fathers or providing fathers with their rights, when they devote all of their time and attention to just the mother. I mean, there are issues that I raise in my decisions that are critical of DCF. That, by no means, means that I hate DCF.

I have an enormous respect for the people, especially the workers who have to go into homes to try to correct families where there is abuse or neglect occurring. They're not welcome in the home. These are mostly young men and women who have to do this. It's a very, very difficult job. But to suggest that I hate DCF is -- is simply absurd.

REP. O'NEILL: Yes. And these blogs, I think we tend to just somewhat discount them, because at least from my own, personal perspective -- and I won't speak for the other members of the Committee -- is that blogs tend to be sort of a creative writing, as much as anything else, and that they call out of people a certain flare for the dramatic and the -- a flamboyant kind of style of writing that you see on the blogs, which is not what we normally would get as -- in the form of testimony or statements about people we're considering for judicial nominations. So there is a -- there is a tendency to discount it.

And yet, on the other hand, when somebody makes as emphatic a statement as that one is, it does raise an issue that -- because I think it is a -- even though I might be skeptical about some of the things that DCF does, and then I, I've had my go-arounds with various people at that agency and the Commissioner, and so forth over the years, certainly I would not want someone to feel that -- that -- that there's a built-in bias against DCF, which is what that comment seems to suggest is there.

FRANCIS FOLEY: Yeah, that's a -- it just -- it was -- came out of nowhere and it really shocked me when I read it. It's simply not true.

REP. O'NEILL: Okay. Now, in terms of dealing with the situation, I've just emerged from a hearing that we're having in the Subcommittee on Judicial Corrections of the Appropriation's Committee, and one of the obvious problems we're going to have is money. And I'm just curious in terms of the, what you're working on with the permanency planning, and is that something that is in your -- where -- where does that stand? I mean, is that likely to be impacted? Is that something that's ready to roll and but for our budget problems we could move forward on something like that? I'm just curious.

FRANCIS FOLEY: I'm not sure whether you know that -- well, I'm sure you know it's -- on some level -- that every few years the federal government comes in through their administration and does a review of Connecticut or all of the states, and that we are in the process of a review by the federal government at the present time. Although the final report hasn't been rendered, the preliminary report showed that Connecticut DCF has scored their -- the lowest of its marks was on permanency planning for children, that is getting children to a permanent placement within the time frames set up by the Adoption and Safe Families Act. And we got our lowest score on all of the areas that DCF was rated on, and so permanency planning is a huge thing for them to address in the near future. And we're just starting. We just formed or they have just formed -- even before we got the final report -- a committee on permanency planning. So there -- we haven't even really met, and so there's no -- nothing to recommend to you.

You know, the only thing I can say is that regarding the budget and -- and the child protection in general, is something you already know; I mean, I'm not a messenger of this. Services are what we need. Services are expensive. The only thing I can say is that I think that what we can do without spending an awful lot of money is to evaluate the services that we have, because they should be outcome and performance evaluated; that is, are these services doing anything?

I know that we -- there's some plant programs that I've seen, listened to testimony on the bench regarding these services, and they were really marginal at best. I don't even -- and yet we're paying for them. You're paying for them and I'm paying for them, and I -- I think that they should be evaluated. And I think DCF does have a plan to do that, but services are expenses. I know that and I -- I don't think we're going to get more.

REP. O'NEILL: Well, thank you. And -- and those words “performance” and “outcomes” are important to us, because we're trying to treat the whole budget that way now, which we really, surprisingly haven't done. You know, there frequently have been very few inquiries as to whether a program is working, whether it's producing good, bad or indifferent results, and until a federal lawsuit starts or something, no one in this building has, until very recently, routinely asked those kinds of questions. Only when something gets in the newspapers and something looks like it's gone wrong do we jump up and down saying, Oh, why is this program malfunctioning this way? So

-- so the -- we are beginning to walk down that path but we have a long way to go before we're doing that for everything on a systematic basis as part of our normal budgetary activity, which is unfortunate. But at least we're starting that during today

for --


REP. O'NEILL: -- this year.

FRANCIS FOLEY: -- think that's the way to go.

REP. O'NEILL: Well, thank you, very much.

SENATOR McDONALD: Representative Winfield.

REP. HOLDER-WINFIELD: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good morning, Judge. I have a question for you. One of -- the way that I'm able to make a decision is based on your testimony, the questionnaire, and input from others such as Mr. Williams. I'm looking at Question 25, and in response to, Have you ever been before the Judicial Review Council, you say, “Any complaints have been dismissed without a hearing. Last known complaint, by Umar Shohid, dismissed on November 13, 2006.” There are a lot of judges who have come before us with complaints that have been dismissed, and that's been a point of contention at some points here. But we've had an understanding of why those complaints have been dismissed and we've understood the disposition, which is part of the question. I'm curious as to why you don't have any of that in your questionnaire as an answer to the question.

FRANCIS FOLEY: Well, I -- I got a letter recently from -- that you got -- from the Committee that said that I had two complaints filed against me in the last eight years. I don't remember the first one, I'm sorry to say. Both of them were just rambling complaints about what happened to them in their sentencing. And the one that I do recall, Judge -- Attorney Newman, who was a -- Newsome, who's a lawyer in Norwich, had a pretrial with me, and a recommendation was made. He went out and talked to his client about it. The client pled out and then later decided that his lawyer had sold him out and that I participated in selling him out. I mean, that's the kind of complaints that they make to the Judicial Review Council that really just have no validity at all. And quite a few of them deserve to be dismissed on their face because they're -- and frequently the other catch -- side of that situation is that they are really trying to appeal to the

-- to the Judicial Review Council to review the decision when it really should be reviewed on appeal.

REP. HOLDER-WINFIELD: I guess my question is really not so much whether or not there was validity, it's that the questionnaire asks you a question and it just seems to me that you didn't actually answer that question. And I guess if I have to look at judging, at judging whether or not in my opinion you should go back to the bench, I need all of the information. I just wonder why you didn't think that you had to actually -- you know, even if it was to say that it was dismissed and there was no reason for the -- it just seems to me that you did not answer that question. And you don't need to go any further; I'm just putting that out to you.

FRANCIS FOLEY: I apologize.

SENATOR McDONALD: Representative Hewett.

REP. HEWETT: Good morning, your Honor.


REP. HEWETT: Just a couple of quick questions. I'm looking in the -- the -- the complaint, this book that's pretty, pretty big; I've never seen one this big.

FRANCIS FOLEY: I haven't either.

REP. HEWETT: But this guy got a -- got a serious axe to grind; right? I'm looking at a part here where it says, Judge Foley, initial 1930

-- 1993 Appointment Hearing. A number of Committee members voiced concerns about you. And it used such words as arrogance, officious, aggressive, offensive, stereotyping, and self-serving. I'm probably about four of the five, myself, and probably everybody else in the room is also, but the one that concerns me is the stereotyping. Could you elaborate on that and tell me why would someone say that about you?

FRANCIS FOLEY: I'm sorry, I can't. I -- I -- I don't know what that -- those remarks, if they were made -- and I'm not sure that they were

-- but if they were, made 15, 16 years ago. If there was a real issue with that, over time I think it would have emerged in the form of serious complaints. And, of course, there haven't been any serious complaints in the last 16 years. Those remarks were made by a person who was opposed to my first appointment, 16 years ago.

REP. HEWETT: Which is the same one that did these complaints here, a Mr. Williams?

FRANCIS FOLEY: Oh, no. It was a --


FRANCIS FOLEY: It was a -- it was a lawyer who practiced in New London, who is presently in the federal prison.

REP. HEWETT: Okay. Something else here that I'm looking at when it comes to the military service, and -- and don't take this the wrong way. By no means am I questioning your military service to this country because I think it's very admirable, what I've seen in this handout. But it says that this individual actually wrote a letter to the Personnel Board and could not find out anything about your military service.

FRANCIS FOLEY: Probably didn't have my serial number.


FRANCIS FOLEY: Because the fact is that that letter was given to the Chairman of this Committee. I provided to the Chief Court Administrator my DD Form 214, Honorable Discharge, my -- all of -- as many service records as I could find. I did serve in the 3rd Armored Division in Germany for two years. And then I served for three years in a Special Forces' National Guard unit. Those are matters that I provided records for.

REP. HEWETT: And I'm not, by any means, saying that it's not true. I'm just giving you a chance today to clear it up for the record.


REP. HEWETT: You know, and I do admire your service to the military in the United States. Thank you.

FRANCIS FOLEY: Thank you, sir.

SENATOR McDONALD: Are there any other questions from members of the Committee?

Representative Lawlor.

REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And good afternoon, your Honor -- good morning, your Honor.

FRANCIS FOLEY: Good morning.

REP. LAWLOR: I just -- since we have gotten a submission from an individual, I was just wondering, could you basically tell us the -- the context in which the, this drama unfolded in the court which involved -- I mean, just the essence of it? There was an allegation. Was it a criminal case? Was it a motor vehicle case? What was the outcome? What was the essence of the event that gave rise to this?

FRANCIS FOLEY: It was a series of events that occurred before I got involved, that at one point the Chief Clerk of the Court brought to my attention as the Administrative Judge, a letter this guy sent to her saying that she was going to be subpoenaed to appear and she could not be represented by the prosecution, that she had to get her own lawyer. I mean, it's a -- not a normal letter. It was highly irregular and it frightened the clerk. She brought the letter to my attention. It was clear from my reading the record and my understanding of the facts. This guy got pulled over in Manchester for some reason.

REP. LAWLOR: The guy you're referring to, your Honor, is the -- Mr. Williams?

FRANCIS FOLEY: Mr. Williams. I'm sorry.

REP. LAWLOR: Okay. So it was a case against him?

FRANCIS FOLEY: He got -- yes.

REP. LAWLOR: He was --

FRANCIS FOLEY: There was a --

REP. LAWLOR: The defendant?

FRANCIS FOLEY: -- criminal case, a motor vehicle case, simple motor vehicle case.

REP. LAWLOR: So for criminal or motor, was it just a speeding ticket or was it a --

FRANCIS FOLEY: Probably a speeding ticket or -- it was either -- it was -- it was a speeding ticket.

And he put down that -- he told the officer his address was Hong Kong, China. And so the Clerk's Office had to start sending these notices for the next hearing to Hong Kong, China, to a box number that he provided to the arresting officer or to the Clerk of the Court. And it -- and the Clerk's Office sent these letters out by regular mail. You're really required to use special airmail or something to get something to China, to Hong Kong quickly. But, nonetheless, he didn't get notice of a hearing. He had closed his -- his -- closed his post office box in July; his hearing was in November. The Clerk's Office sent stuff to him but that post office box was no longer valid, for whatever reason.

The fellow actually lived in Storrs, Connecticut. Nonetheless --

REP. LAWLOR: Was he an attorney at the time? Was he an attorney admitted --


REP. LAWLOR: -- to practice in Connecticut?

FRANCIS FOLEY: -- was admitted to the practice of law, although he did not have any clients; he'd never had a client. So he was -- he was admitted to the practice but not a practicing lawyer.

He didn't get notice of the hearing. The Court, whoever it was, issued a 14-140, closed the case out for not appearing. So the Department of Motor Vehicle notified him that his license was under suspension. He may have got the notice, he may not have, but we don't know where, what address they sent it to. But, nonetheless, his license was suspended in Connecticut.

Months later, he gets arrested in Manchester for another criminal -- stopped by police for some reason, and the police determined that his license was under suspension. If -- most -- this happens frequently that people get their license suspended. Most people, pro se, are able to go to the Clerk's Office and get a form, get their license, a motion to reopen. They -- it's granted routinely and all they have to do is file that with the Department of

Motor Vehicles, and they are restored and they are, therefore, at their position prior to anything happening. They are restored and the underlying speeding ticket is then before the Court.

This fellow did not follow those procedures at all. He brought a writ of mandamus or he attempted to bring a writ of mandamus against the Court, the Department of Motor Vehicles, but -- and he did it just by filing a motion. Now the practice book requires that you do a writ of mandamus either by a writ or an order to show cause, so the motion was -- there was a motion. When it came before me, I dismissed it because of procedural. He insisted on proceeding on it and he wanted the Clerk of the Court to appear and testify that she sent the mail by using the wrong postage. He threatened to subpoena the Department of Motor Vehicles to show that their procedure for suspending licenses was incorrect.

Actually, if you just read his opening letter in here, at least you'll get a flavor of -- of how --

REP. LAWLOR: This was -- was this all taking place in the context of the trial on the actual charge or was this some related --

FRANCIS FOLEY: No, it was all --

REP. LAWLOR: -- reopening of the --

FRANCIS FOLEY: It's all --

REP. LAWLOR: -- case or something?

FRANCIS FOLEY: -- taking place on, basically, a motor vehicle violation.

REP. LAWLOR: So the question was whether or not the -- the state was attempting to prove he was operating under suspension, and he was offering a defense? Is that what it was or was it a little different?

FRANCIS FOLEY: I think that that's what his notion was, but I can't speak for what his notion was, all I can tell you is he didn't follow the normal procedure.

REP. LAWLOR: But was it a criminal trial that was taking place on the -- on the -- with the charge being operating under suspension and he was trying to compel testimony in his defense in a criminal trial or was it some other type of proceeding related to reopening his license or something like that?

FRANCIS FOLEY: It's a very --

REP. LAWLOR: It'd be different because --


REP. LAWLOR: -- you know, I -

FRANCIS FOLEY: -- very specific question and --

and --


FRANCIS FOLEY: -- this was, like, eight years ago.

REP. LAWLOR: Well, because --

FRANCIS FOLEY: Six years ago.

REP. LAWLOR: -- I only say it because his allegation is -- in the letter, the documents he's given to us -- is that he wasn't allowed to present a defense under the Constitution which, of course, includes compulsory process.

FRANCIS FOLEY: That -- actually, that case is still pending.

REP. LAWLOR: The criminal case?

FRANCIS FOLEY: Yeah, the motor vehicle case. It's never been resolved, I --

REP. LAWLOR: I was --

FRANCIS FOLEY: -- don't think.

REP. LAWLOR: -- trying to look it up. I couldn't find it, so --

FRANCIS FOLEY: Yeah. Well, I don't -- I don't -- it may have been resolved, but I -- I wasn't party to resolving it because we never got to that. Because when he started this, these threatening letters to the Clerk's Office, I file -- made an order to show cause to have him come before the Court, why he should not be suspended for this, the way he was preceding with the case.


FRANCIS FOLEY: And it -- he came in and every time he came in he would get a continuance. He -- I -- I told him to get a lawyer. I told him that he, his right to practice was at issue. It's -- the transcripts are all in here -- you -- if you wanted to take the time to read them. I gave -- I advised him three times on three separate occasions to get a lawyer to come to court. Finally, after months had gone by on this very issue, he appeared in court and I said I'm not going to give you any further continuances on this, and I then asked him to proceed with his case.

REP. LAWLOR: And the case was a state charge against him --


REP. LAWLOR: -- for whatever it was or was it --

FRANCIS FOLEY: The case was his right to practice.

REP. LAWLOR: I got it. Okay.

FRANCIS FOLEY: So I wasn't really addressing the motor vehicle issue.

And if you -- I anticipated that this man had or would be here, would come, and I included my decision to suspend him in the written materials that I had submitted to the Judiciary Committee. It's in there. He's obviously spent a lot of years thinking about me and his case, as witnessed by this document, which is probably as prodigious a document as has ever been presented against a judge -- sitting judge. But I think that you ought to be able to get the drift of it pretty quickly, and especially when you see what he says about the rest of the judiciary system and then the Department of Motor Vehicles and everyone else that's involved.

REP. LAWLOR: Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Judge, notwithstanding your comment earlier that you're waiving any right to come back and testify, I'm actually going to ask you to stick around --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- because we may have questions of you.


SENATOR McDONALD: And I believe Representative Gonzalez, however, had a question that she'd like to pose now.

REP. GONZALEZ: Good morning, your Honor.

FRANCIS FOLEY: Good morning.

REP. GONZALEZ: About DCF, I used to work in court, years and years ago, and I remember judges complaining about DCF. And I remember a judge saying I do have found this with DCF, they are not responsible and it seems like they don't care for the kids. And after I got elected, that I got more involved with DCF, I can agree with, with that judge. In your opinion, do you think that DCF need to change the ways or maybe DCF need, you know, maybe help or training or -- because there's too many problems with DCF. In my community a lot of people complain about DCF, and that's a complaint, day after day, day after day. And it seems like -- I've been here 13 years now, and it's been the same since that. You know, nothing change, it's still the same, people still complaining. And we have to understand that we're here, you know, to help the kids. And it seems like we got problems with DCF. In your opinion, what do you think that we can do to help DCF or do you believe that they really need help?

FRANCIS FOLEY: Well, I just went to a meeting that I talked to you -- I described a few minutes ago, about this federal review of DCF. And it was a -- it was a meeting for DCF people. It wasn't for judges or for the public; it was an internal meeting of DCF. And I have to say, I was enormously impressed with the organization and hierarchy of DCF and the number of committees they have that are working on specific problems within DCF. They -- I think they address their problems internally, very well. I think that there are some social workers -- and I said I criticize some social workers from time to time because I didn't think they were -- were looking for the fathers. I didn't think they were providing the right services, and I would say that in my written decisions.

But by and large, I think DCF is a tough organization to work for because everyone criticizes them. I mean, and the newspapers, a month hardly goes by when DCF doesn't get criticized for something. And -- and that's because sometimes unpredictable things happen that can't -- that nobody can contemplate.

We've had -- I've had cases where -- where we've returned children to a family. When I first started practicing law, the federal law was such that called for what a doctor even called family preservation. That was the emphasis of the federal government, and that meant trying to return children to homes as quickly as possible. And from time to time we were returning children to unsafe homes, and so that in the late 1900s, 1998 and '99, the federal government passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act which changed the focus from family preservation to ensuring the safety of children and for setting up very narrow and very strict guidelines for returning children to the families. The goal was to make a decision for permanency within one year of removal, from the date of removal. Judges are required and DCF is required to evaluate that case and make a decision within one year of whether to return children to families. If they haven't made serious effort towards rehabilitation, the recommendation is that DCF provide -- proceed to terminate parental rights.

But to specifically -- to answer your question, of course there are issues with DCF. Of course there are horror stories that occur from time to time. And some -- some social workers aren't as good as others, but overall, I think DCF is doing a wonderful job under very difficult circumstances.

REP. GONZALEZ: Do you think that sometimes they remove a child from home, and even though the families are doing, you know, everything they have to, they take, you know, sometimes more

-- they say usually it's 18 -- 18 months, after that, they start -- they start a process to, to terminate the parental rights. And I will say that do you think that it'll be -- when they remove a child from home, they have, I think, I believe it's nine -- 92 hours for, to prove probable cause. But even sometimes in those 92 hours, they prove probable cause, the kids are not, they don't return the kids home. And sometimes the family ended up losing the kids, and even if -- even if they are fighting for the kids and they are doing everything and, you know, in their powers, you know, to correct the problem.

Do you think that -- that -- that right now, as a criminal -- not dealing with DCF -- if they arrest me, let's say, they have how many hours to find probable cause or release me as -- as a regular case?

FRANCIS FOLEY: Well, I think you're right. I think it's about 96 hours. It could --

REP. GONZALEZ: Ninety-two.

FRANCIS FOLEY: -- be less.

REP. GONZALEZ: Ninety-two. So --

FRANCIS FOLEY: All right. (Inaudible) --

REP. GONZALEZ: -- I think --

FRANCIS FOLEY: I mean, it's very quick. They -- they have to go to a judge with their affidavits prepared and with a very brief outline of the problems to show to the judge to show that there is a -- an urgency to remove the child. And the judge has to evaluate it and sign off on it. And then there -- then they have to appear within ten days in court, and they have a right to a full hearing within ten days on the order of temporary custody.

REP. GONZALEZ: Your Honor, when you was appointed to a bench, at that time did anybody came to testify against you but at that time?

FRANCIS FOLEY: Yes. A lawyer did.

REP. GONZALEZ: A lawyer did. So what's your opinion about a lawyer came in to testify against a judge?

FRANCIS FOLEY: Well, it's -- it's certainly unusual and it's -- it can't -- and it makes the members of this Committee really consider the wisdom of the appointment.

REP. GONZALEZ: I really believe that there are more lawyers out there that even though they want to testify against a judge, they don't do -- they don't do it because, you know, they feel like maybe later, later on it's going to be some retaliation or, you know, knowing that they have to see the judge, maybe every week. Do you believe that? Because we don't have a lot -- a lot of lawyers that come in to testify against judges. It's very unusual, and also judges against judges is -- you hardly see that. But when a lawyer complain about a judge, do you think that is really is because something is there or --

FRANCIS FOLEY: Well, I think if a lawyer testifies their conscience, I think you have to take that seriously.

REP. GONZALEZ: Okay. Thank you.

FRANCIS FOLEY: This -- okay. Thank you.

REP. GONZALEZ: Thank you, your Honor.

SENATOR McDONALD: Are there any other questions for Judge Foley? If not, thank you very much, your Honor.


SENATOR McDONALD: And, again, please (inaudible).


SENATOR McDONALD: The next nominee to be a Judge of a Superior Court is the Honorable Angelo L. dos Santos of Eastford.

ANGELO DOS SANTOS: Good morning.

SENATOR McDONALD: Good morning, your Honor. Please raise your right hand. Do you swear that the testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?


SENATOR McDONALD: Please have a seat. We'd be happy to have any opening statement that you have for us.

ANGELO DOS SANTOS: Good morning, Senator

McDonald, Representative Lawlor, ranking members, members of the Judiciary Committee. I would like to thank Governor Jodi Rell for nominating me for reappointment as a Judge of the Superior Court. I also want to take this opportunity to thank my friend and mentor,

the late Richard D. Tulisano who was a

former-Chairman of this Committee, and also to thank you for considering my nomination.

I have been a judge for eight years. During the last years, my assignments were varied. For the first year, I conducted jury trials in Bristol. Then I was assigned to the Hartford/New Britain Housing Session -- Sessions, where I remained for three years. I was on the -- it was onto the Juvenile Court in Hartford for a year. My next assignment took me to Rockville Judicial District where I conducted criminal jury trials, heard habeas corpus petitions, and was responsible for the Housing Docket and Youthful Offender proceedings. Currently, I am working in Putnam where I am assigned a Family Docket.

If you find me worthy, I hope to continue serving the people of the State of Connecticut as a Superior Court Judge for another eight years. I am here to answer any questions that you have for me.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much, your Honor. Are there any questions for the Judge? If not, let me just ask you, how long were you doing habeas cases?

ANGELO DOS SANTOS: Eighteen months.

SENATOR McDONALD: Eighteen months. And if you recall -- well, how long ago was that?

ANGELO DOS SANTOS: Recently. I did -- I did habeas corpus petitions until September of this past year.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. So one of the things that we're looking at here in the Legislature is the entire process by which the habeas petitions move through the system and whether or not there should be any modifications to that process to make it more efficient, to make it more exacting. And having just recently spent some time plowing through those petitions, I think we could certainly benefit from any perspective that you have gleaned during your time.

ANGELO DOS SANTOS: Well, the writ of habeas corpus is such a fundamental right that I think that you ought to consider what you might do changing that fundamental right. My experience are, in the Habeas Corpus Court was that most of the petitions were without merit and -- but it is a form where there is a review, mostly regarding the competency preparation of the attorney who defended a defendant.

SENATOR McDONALD: You're certainly not the first judge to say that the vast majority of habeas petitions are without merit. I guess -- I don't know if any members of this Committee have ever had an opportunity to work through that process. Could you just explain to us a little bit about how that process evolves and how you come to the determination that the petition has no merit? Is it just on the papers? Is it -- do you have --

ANGELO DOS SANTOS: No, there's -- there's a full trial where both sides can present relevant witnesses. Many times those cases have gone up on appeal to the Appellate and Supreme Courts, and in those instances, most of those cases, the trial, which usually is a jury trial, has been affirmed. And most of the times it's really the court of last resort for an -- an inmate.

SENATOR McDONALD: Well, I understand that. But I guess what I'm trying to understand is the -- is there any typical length of time for the hearing on the habeas petition? Are they five minutes; are they three days? I'm -- I'm sure it's hard to generalize, but I'm --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- asking you to.

ANGELO DOS SANTOS: I understand your question then. No, it's a full trial. I have -- I never had a -- a five-minute trial. They're not trials on the papers. Many other times -- most of the times the petitioner testifies. They also bring -- bring in witnesses to assert the -- the claims being made. Many of the claims are that the defense attorney did not sufficiently investigate their case. And so those are issues that are factually driven and do take time.

Because of my experience as a Workers' Compensation Commissioner, when I arrived at the Habeas Corpus Court, I did insist that the parties identify the exhibits in -- in advance of the start of the trial. But there were issues of the competence of that evidence that I had to take up in many instances, and that short -- shortened the -- the duration of the trial. But the trial really is a full trial that could take as much as a morning, a day; some take many days. It depends on -- on -- on each case.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much, your Honor. Are there any other questions?

Representative Gonzalez.

REP. GONZALEZ: Good morning, your Honor.

ANGELO DOS SANTOS: Good morning.

REP. GONZALEZ: Do you feel that judges should be elected by the -- by the people?

ANGELO DOS SANTOS: Absolutely not.


ANGELO DOS SANTOS: Well, my experience, obviously, is I -- I'm appointed. I'm an appointed judge. I -- I just think that it's -- it's an awful waste of resources to elect judges, because I see a lot of instances where that could be a problem. Because who is going to essentially pay for the -- the cost of the election? It probably would be individuals who -- who might appear before that -- that judge.

In this -- in this state we're free from that. We have a Judicial Selection Commission who review the -- the work of each potential judge. And -- and the system in Connecticut insofar as how judges come to the bench is a wonderful way to have individuals serve in that capacity as -- as Superior Court Judges.

REP. GONZALEZ: So it's okay to elect the Probate Court Judges by the public, by the people, but not criminal judges?

ANGELO DOS SANTOS: Well, there's a -- there's a history to the election of Probate Judges, and obviously it would be up to you to decide whether or not to change that system, but I -- I do see problems with having elected judges. You -- you end up, essentially, having a judge who -- who -- who may have to make decisions based on political considerations rather than making a decision on what ought to be done with that particular case.

REP. GONZALEZ: And you think that right now you being appointed by the -- by the Bench is not political? You telling me there is nothing -- nothing involved was, you know, was -- is, you know, political?

ANGELO DOS SANTOS: Well, from -- from the point of the judges passing through the Judicial Selection Commission, obviously at that point you need to have a friend who -- who knows the Governor or you need to be a friend of the Governor to be appointed, obviously. And there is a list compiled from the -- those people who pass muster and who are approved by the -- the Judicial Selection Commission, and so that part of it, certainly, has -- there are. There are political considerations.

REP. GONZALEZ: So it's politics involved?


REP. GONZALEZ: Thank you, your Honor.

ANGELO DOS SANTOS: You're welcome.

SENATOR McDONALD: Are there any other questions from members of the Committee? If not, thank you, very much, your Honor.


SENATOR McDONALD: Next is the Honorable George N. Thim of Trumbull. Good morning, your Honor.

GEORGE THIM: Good morning.

SENATOR McDONALD: Do you swear that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?


SENATOR McDONALD: Please have a seat. And I would be happy to have any opening statement that you have for us.

GEORGE THIM: Good morning, Senator McDonald and members of the Judiciary Committee. I am honored to be here. I thank Governor M. Jodi Rell for nominating me for reappointment.

I have been a Judge of the Superior Court for 24 years. I have, over the years, been a generalist as opposed to a specialist in the sense that I have presided over all types of cases, civil, criminal, family, and, years ago, juvenile. In the early '90s, I served as Administrative Judge of the Judicial District of Fairfield. I have also served as a Presiding Judge of Family matters. Presently, I am serving as the Presiding Judge of Criminal matters in Part A of the Fairfield Judicial District.

One of the more interesting cases that I've heard years ago was the Salad King Trial where the late Paul Newman was named as a defendant. That case is noteworthy for being one of the few jury trials in Connecticut that has been televised from the beginning to the end.

I take great pride in our judicial system. Being a judge gives one the opportunity to participate in a government function that directly impacts the participants and directly or indirectly affects the entire community.

At the beginning of my career, a judge who is a good friend told me to always give litigants an opportunity to address the Court, whether the case be a minor traffic offense or a much more serious situation. I have followed that advice and I've always done my best to make sure that all the participants in a court case have -- are heard and treated with respect and dignity.

I welcome the opportunity to answer your questions.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much, your Honor. Well, I don't have any questions, just a -- just a comment. I could be wrong, but if I recall correctly, back in 1991 after I was first sworn in, I believe my first Short calendar call was before you. And I don't think I could have been more scared going into court for the first time, flying solo. But you had a tremendous calming effect on not only me but everybody in your courtroom, and all the years that I have had the opportunity to appear before you since then, your demeanor has never changed. You are a very steady force and -- and the state is much better for you participating as you do over these last

24 years. And I'm thrilled to see you here today. You do a great job.

GEORGE THIM: Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Are there any questions for Judge Thim?

I guess Representative O'Neill, then Representative Gonzalez.

REP. O'NEILL: Actually, you made comment about being a generalist as opposed to becoming something of a specialist. And I'm just wondering, is it your impression that the trend is -- because people do mention it when they talk to us or we raise issues about specialty that someone has in dealing with children's issues or someone dealing with issues relating to divorces and that sort of thing -- do you feel like you're part of a declining breed, so to speak, of judges who don't specialize?

GEORGE THIM: Perhaps. When I started as a judge, the effort was to make sure a judge sampled all different types of a courtroom. I don't know if we've gotten away from that. I don't know if I'm a declining breed; I do think it's a good experience to do all types of courtroom. And then as you go along, perhaps you specialize in one particular area.

REP. O'NEILL: But you didn't -- you didn't do that, you just continued doing a variety of things?

GEORGE THIM: The last eight -- for example, the last eight years, I spent four years on criminal and four years on the civil side of a courtroom.

REP. O'NEILL: Okay. Thank you.

GEORGE THIM: Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Representative Gonzalez.

REP. GONZALEZ: Good morning, your Honor.

GEORGE THIM: Good morning.

REP. GONZALEZ: Your Honor, on Question Number 11, “Names of Firms or Individuals associated with since admission to the Bar,” and you said here, “December 1978 to May 6, 1985.” So you worked for the Public Defender that time?


REP. GONZALEZ: And then you went -- and then Public Defender and then the Assistant Public Defender, so that mean that from -- from -- from Public Defender you, then you became a judge?


REP. GONZALEZ: I do have some concerns with that, you know, because most of the judges that we have is -- that's the process, goes to Public Defender and -- and then, you know, Prosecutor and then goes to the bench.

But Question 25 here, you have a couple of complaints. You have --

GEORGE THIM: That's over 24 years, not 8 years.

REP. GONZALEZ: Okay, here, but -- okay. Here and in Question 25 you have the last complaint was February 25, 2008; right?


REP. GONZALEZ: Then Question 25 has, “Has a complaint against you ever been before the Judicial Review Council?” That's Question 25. And you have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight complaints.

GEORGE THIM: And that's over 24 years, yes.

REP. GONZALEZ: Over 24 years, okay. And all the complaint -- all the complaints, you know, I've been -- I've been reading the complaint and some of them, it look, you know, seems like they are very -- yeah, they are not very important. But having all those eight complaints and always being dismissed by Judicial Review Council, they never, you know, it's very rare that they find a judge guilty of any complaint.

GEORGE THIM: Well, some people file complaints just -- and I believe -- just because they're upset at the way the decision went. The forms are in the Clerk's Office and maybe they take it out on a -- on a judge. I've never been in front of the Judicial Review Council; all the matters have been dismissed.

REP. GONZALEZ: So before -- never have a hearing with the Judicial Review Council.


REP. GONZALEZ: And how can they -- they -- how they can make a decision if you never been in front? They just receive the complaint and they dismiss the complaint?

GEORGE THIM: I think some they investigate and then they make a decision.

REP. GONZALEZ: Some of them?


REP. GONZALEZ: Thank you, your Honor.

GEORGE THIM: Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Representative Morris.

REP. MORRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good morning, your Honor.

GEORGE THIM: Good morning, sir.

REP. MORRIS: Just a little further elaboration, if we can, on the complaint. I do notice they're actually over a period of about 13 years, but if we can just maybe just go through two or three of them and just give a little explanation, it'd be very helpful.

The one on December 27, 1999, Nathaniel Boykin complained that you twice denied his motion to reduce bond. Do you recall the reason that was?

GEORGE THIM: No. No, I don't recall. I don't recall him but that was the complaint.

REP. MORRIS: Okay. How about the one on

August 25, 2000? It's Richard Breckenridge asked that a decision finding him in violation of probation be reviewed.

GEORGE THIM: Well, the complaint was investigated and dismissed. The normal order would have been to take a direct appeal to the Appellate

Court and not to file a complaint against the judge.

REP. MORRIS: Okay. And the one in 2000, with Earl Whitfield complained about his appeal bond.


REP. MORRIS: Do you recall what the complaint was about? Why --


REP. MORRIS: Why did he complain about you?

GEORGE THIM: No. I recall the name but he, you know, complained about the appeal, though. And there is a -- a, you know, a way to take appellate review; he filed a complaint against me.

REP. MORRIS: Oh, so he didn't cite why he was complaining against you as opposed to following a different process that would have been more appropriate, if I understand you correctly?

GEORGE THIM: I don't recall. He filed --


GEORGE THIM: He filed a complaint and the complaint was investigated and dismissed.


GEORGE THIM: I -- I -- I would have gotten a letter that there was a complaint and then a follow-up letter would have been just that the complaint was investigated and dismissed.

REP. MORRIS: Fine. So to help us then to understand -- this goes to Representative Gonzalez's point -- that the process as you know it for Judicial Review -- I mean, I'm hearing you say that they notify you that a complaint is lodged against you. Other than that, you just receive notification whether they dismiss it or accept it? There -- they don't ask you for anything, any information in between at --

GEORGE THIM: If they --

REP. MORRIS: -- that time?

GEORGE THIM: -- find there are grounds for the complaint --


GEORGE THIM: -- then the judge would, you know, have a basis to give input and probably, you know, if they found a basis for the complaint, I would assume there would be a public hearing.

REP. MORRIS: Okay. So then we can conclude that the eight complaints that are here, that they didn't find grounds for these complaints --


REP. MORRIS: -- and therefore they ended at that point.

GEORGE THIM: Correct. There -- there might have been one here that was dismissed as beyond the statutory --


GEORGE THIM: -- period, the one on, in June 2004 where a person complained that I incorrectly decided a motion. You know, the motion appeared on the short calendar. Another judge had decided the same motion a month before and the matter had already (inaudible). So I said, This matter has already been decided. The man was upset and he filed a complaint.

REP. MORRIS: Thank you, very much, your Honor.

SENATOR McDONALD: Is there anything else for the first time? If not, Representative O'Neill.

REP. O'NEILL: Yes, thank you. In looking at your questionnaire, I was -- and kind of skipped over it -- certain questions where there are blanks on my questionnaire, and consulting with Chairman McDonald, his has some data where I have blanks, so if I could just ask a couple of quick questions. It appears that, on his, you've indicated your physical condition as excellent, and I assume that that is, okay, is correct.

Number 21 -- on mine it's a blank and apparently on his as well -- it asks military service, if any. And so I guess that question, I would ask if there was --

GEORGE THIM: I have not. I have not been in the military.

REP. O'NEILL: Okay. So that would -- okay.

And on number 19, it asked if there were public offices or positions in the state or federal government, boards, commissions, that sort of thing. Obviously, since you've been a judge, you probably haven't served in any of those capacities. Was there anything that predated the appointment to the bench?


REP. O'NEILL: And I think that was it. So I'm not sure what the -- I guess we have a little bit of a problem with our reprinting of documents here. Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Anything else from members of the Committee? If not, thank you, very much, your Honor.

GEORGE THIM: Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Next is the Honorable Peter Emmett Wiese of Avon.

PETER WIESE: Good morning.

SENATOR McDONALD: Good morning, your Honor. Please raise your hand. Do you swear that the testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

PETER WIESE: Yes, I do. Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Please have a seat. Welcome. And we'd be happy to have any opening statement.

PETER WIESE: Thank you.

Senator McDonald, Representative Lawlor, and members of this honorable Committee, I'm honored to appear before you today. I want to thank Governor Rell for nominating me for reappointment for a third term as a Superior Court Judge.

Since I last appeared before this Committee in 2001, I have served in a variety of assignments. These have included criminal and civil trials, a Juvenile assignment, a year in the Housing Session, and four years as the Presiding Judge at the Judicial District of Meriden. I'm presently assigned to G.A. 17 in the City of Bristol. I have also had the opportunity to be appointed as -- by the Chief Justice -- as a member of the Law Library Advisory Committee.

It has been my high privilege and an honor to serve as a Superior Court Judge for the last 16 years, and I look forward with your approval to be able to continue my public service.

Thank you for this opportunity, and I'm happy to answer any questions that you might have.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much, your Honor. You -- I'm sorry -- you currently sit in Bristol. Is that a general assignment? Is it a block assignment?

PETER WIESE: It's a -- it -- well, it's part of the New Britain Judicial District, G.A. 17. It's the -- it's the Arraignment Court in Bristol.

SENATOR McDONALD: It's a -- okay. So you probably have heard about the Governor's proposal to close that courthouse.

PETER WIESE: I did, yes.

SENATOR McDONALD: Presumably -- well, you're probably the person best positioned to tell us who -- those of us who haven't ever been in the Bristol courthouse, what type of volume that you see on a daily basis coming through your Arraignment Court.

PETER WIESE: I checked the -- the latest statistics a couple of days ago, and we have approximately, almost 1300 cases pending. And those would include serious-to-minor criminal offenses, motor vehicle offenses; it's a very busy place. On a -- on any given day we probably have 125 cases on the docket.

SENATOR McDONALD: And how many judges sit in Bristol?

PETER WIESE: Currently, I'm the only one. When I was there in 1995, there were two of us. In 1995, I did all of the criminal trials in -- in Bristol. But I think shortly after I left, they -- they reduced it to one judge, and that's the way it's been ever since.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. And, again, forgive me, the -- some of this may sound stupid, because I just haven't ever been there -- is it all just criminal work there?

PETER WIESE: Yes, sir. Yes, it is.

SENATOR McDONALD: Not Housing or anything else?


SENATOR McDONALD: Any other --

PETER WIESE: No. All the -- currently what happens is the trials that are generated in Bristol go to New Britain, and that's where the cases are tried.

And the Housing, which I did that, the -- I did that docket last year -- is Hartford and New Britain.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. So there are no trials are being held in Bristol, it's just purely arraignments there?

PETER WIESE: This is correct.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much.

Are there any other questions from members of the Committee? If not, thank you, very much.

PETER WIESE: Thank you, very much.

SENATOR McDONALD: We're going to move now into the section of the agenda for the Public Hearing for new nominees to be Judges of the Superior Court, and the first nominee is Gerard I. Adelman of Meriden.

GERARD ADELMAN: Good morning.

SENATOR McDONALD: Good morning, sir. Please raise your right hand. Do you swear that the testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?


SENATOR McDONALD: Please have a seat. Congratulations on your nomination, and we'd be happy to have any opening statement you might --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- like to give.

GERARD ADELMAN: Good morning, Chairman McDonald and members of the Judiciary Committee.

My name is Gerard I. Adelman. I was born and -- and raised in Brooklyn, New York, but I did my graduate work at Ohio State University, graduating in 1970. After graduating from college, I married and -- and my wife and I moved to Wallingford, Connecticut. We resided in Connecticut for almost 39 years and in Meriden for 37. My first career after college was a -- as an eighth grade teacher at Dodd Junior High School in Cheshire, Connecticut. I attended Southern Connecticut State College then, now University, working on my master's degree in history. When I finished that work in 1977, I decided to go to law school and attended UCONN's night program from the fall of 1978 to the spring of 1982. I resigned my teaching position at the end of October of that year and was admitted to the Connecticut Bar on November 1, 1982.

Starting as a research clerk with the Meriden firm of Weigand and Mahon during law school, I became an associate upon my admission to the Bar and a partner on January 1, 1985. We changed the name of the firm to Weigand, Mahon & Adelman, and I've been there to this day.

Our firm is a general practice firm, and as the newest member I took all types of cases. I did criminal defense, Workers' Comp, personal injury, small business development, tax appeal, foreclosures, bankruptcies, Social Security disability claims, and family law. Over the years, I became the primary family law practitioner in our firm. And since that time, the vast majority of my practice has developed in the family law area.

I've not only represented divorcing parents; it was very early in my career I took on the role as Attorney for the Minor Child or Guardian ad litem. Back then, having an Attorney for the Minor Child was the exception, but today it's very common, and I believe it's a very important improvement in our family law system.

I've been -- excuse me -- I've been extremely active as a special master is a variety of different courts. I was among the earliest lawyers to be recruited by Judge Steinberg for the Regional Family Trial Docket and have continued in that program to the present day. I have also voluntary participated in the limited contested cases in the Judicial Districts of New Haven and Middlesex, and I organized a special master program in my own Judicial District of Meriden.

My interest in developing alternatives to litigation in the family law area has led me to seek special training in -- in divorce mediation and collaborative divorce. I've been very active in both of those areas. My ethical obligation to serve the public good has been an important part of my professional life. I've handled numerous pro bono divorces. I've been active in the CBA and served as a director and legal advisor for many nonprofit organizations over the year -- over the years.

As a family law practitioner, I've had a great deal of courtroom experience, both at trial and short calendar docket. I believe I have a very good working knowledge about rules of evidence, courtroom decorum, and the necessary interpersonal skills to perform well as a Superior Court Judge.

As a member of a small firm, I know firsthand the problems that attorneys face in scheduling matters in different courts on the same day. I also understand the problems court face in making sure that matters are processed in a timely manner, while still understanding the realities of conflicts, family emergencies, and the like.

I maintain good working relationships, not only with my clients but also with court staff, from the marshals to the judges. And I am pleased that several staff members have referred their family and friends to me for representation over the years.

On the personal side, I'm married to the former Georgia Brannan, who is with me this morning, for almost 39 years. We have one daughter, Jessica Adelman Kogut, and my wife and I are now very fortunate to be grandparents of Nicholas and Emily Kogut,

three-year-old twins. We're active and involved grandparents.

I'm -- I'm truly humbled to have been given this opportunity by Governor Rell, and I have personally assured her that she will not be disappointed by my work if confirmed. I give the same pledge to you. I look forward to the opportunity of performing the duties of a Superior Court Judge with the humility of one who has been before many of our finest judges, the competence of an experienced legal practitioner, the integrity of a believer in our judicial system, and a proud citizen of this great state.

I am honored to have this opportunity to answer your questions. Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much. And I appreciate the opening statement. You mentioned that -- I'm sorry -- I think almost all of your practice has been in family relations --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- matters?

GERARD ADELMAN: In the last 10 or 15 years, the vast majority has been, yes.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. Well, first of all, I wanted to actually ask you something about the -- about the Guardian ad litem role that you have played. How have you been selected in --for those positions over the last 10 or 15 years?

GERARD ADELMAN: I -- I would say that the -- in -- in the vast majority of cases, it's been by

agreement of -- of the parties' counsel. And in other cases the Court would appoint me. Especially as my reputation as a GAL or an attorney for a minor child has grown, very often the Court would make the appointment. But in most cases, it's done by agreement of the -- of the attorneys for the parents.

SENATOR McDONALD: And I guess that speaks highly of you, if you can get parents in the divorce case to agree on something, it's probably a good thing; right?




SENATOR McDONALD: I ask you because I have heard that the process for appointments of GALs is rather haphazard unless there is an -- a agreement between the two -- between the parents. Is that your experience?

GERARD ADELMAN: It -- it -- it -- it differs from court to court. I don't -- I don't think they -- the procedure is -- is -- is uniform in any sense. Most -- most judges that are doing family work will have a list of people who they think are appropriate for that role and

-- and will work down the list. I know I've been asked by -- by judges in various courts for my own recommendations, you know, for people to add -- add to that list. But I don't think -- I'm not aware that there's any -- any formal procedure, statewide.

SENATOR McDONALD: Should there be?

GERARD ADELMAN: There probably should be, you know, some sort of -- of -- of qualification or training. I know --

SENATOR McDONALD: You would think.

GERARD ADELMAN: Well, I know that, you know, attorneys -- attorneys who serve as Guardian in various courts have -- have kind of formed their own -- we call them academies of -- of

-- of Guardian ad litems. There's one in Hartford and there's one in New Haven, in the New Haven Judicial District. But they're informal organizations of people who have done the work who will get together periodically. Very often judges of the court will come. I know I attended one in New Haven in the fall, and Judge Munro and Judge Gordon, who were sitting on the Regional Docket both came. Very often members of the mental health profession will come to these meetings, you know, to assist in -- in -- in teaching people who are -- work as Guardians to deal with specific issues. The last meeting we had, we talked about psychological testing and what the tests meant and how they could be used. So I -- I think it might be a -- the area is very much in flux. I mean, we don't even have clear rules from the Supreme Court as to what a GAL or -- or an Attorney for the Minor Child is supposed to do, so --

SENATOR McDONALD: You may be getting those from the General Assembly, actually.

GERARD ADELMAN: Or from the General Assembly. I mean, there needs to be some clarification in the area --


GERARD ADELMAN: -- absolutely.

SENATOR McDONALD: I ask because we have several bills that we are going to be working on this year to do just that, and we are reaching out to the Judicial Branch to figure out how to work through some of those issues. And you're right, there is no uniformity. And it seems like, from different parts of the state, that the process is rather ad hoc and uneven. Let's put --

GERARD ADELMAN: Plus it's --

SENATOR McDONALD: -- it that way.

GERARD ADELMAN: It's a -- it's a real area of flux in the law, and -- and --

SENATOR McDONALD: Why? Why is that? What's your opinion about (inaudible) --

GERARD ADELMAN: Well, I -- I -- well, as I said in my opening statement, when I started in 1982, to have an Attorney for the Minor Child or Guardian was a once-in-a-blue-moon occasion and it did not happen very often at all. And I think it's -- it's a real improvement in the system that the courts have now recognized the importance of -- of keeping the child -- the children protected from the -- protected from the proceedings and have their rights also recognized and protected, you know, by a trained practitioner; so that -- that's the improvement. Now it's up -- it's up to the, you know, to the statutes to catch up, you know, with -- with what the practice has been in the courts.

SENATOR McDONALD: This is my own disability on the subject, I guess, because I don't do family law, and so a lot of this is very foreign to me, but I've heard anecdotally that it's not unusual for a judge to appoint a lawyer who might just be sitting in the courtroom as a Guardian ad litem, right then and there for a case that is currently pending before the court.

GERARD ADELMAN: I've never seen that done.

SENATOR McDONALD: You've never seen that, okay.



GERARD ADELMAN: -- never seen that happen.

SENATOR McDONALD: You know, you hear tails from a friend and you wonder and try -- you try and figure out how much to believe and not believe, because it would be a scary proposition if somebody was just impressed into service like that and thrown into the deep end and, frankly, trying to figure out if they could actually perform any meaningful duties in such a situation.

GERARD ADELMAN: The only time I've seen anything like that happen is -- is when some indigent or unrepresented father or mother is getting ready to be incarcerated for failure to pay child support and the Court -- the judge may look out and say, Attorney Adelman, would you consider representing this person for the purposes of this hearing? But as a GAL? No, I've never seen that and -- and there have been some occasions where a judge would -- would appoint me, because I'm in the court, but he would not proceed any further that day on any -- on any merits of the case until I've had an opportunity to participate with the family and -- and gain some knowledge of what the case was about.

SENATOR McDONALD: It seems like we should, as a state, have some very clear qualifications for Guardians because, I mean, the positions taken by GALs are afforded substantial deference by the courts. Is that a fair statement to say?

GERARD ADELMAN: Many judges do that.

SENATOR McDONALD: Right. So it gives the GAL extraordinary influence over particular cases and the rights of parents and the opportunities for children, and yet we don't have -- necessary have any confidence that -- that that person is particularly well suited to the role. And that's present company excluded, of course.

GERARD ADELMAN: Well, I -- I -- I, you know, I think you're right and I think the system only works because, first of all, there are many attorneys who -- who want absolutely nothing to do with that kind of work. And to those people -- it's kind of a self-selecting process -- those people who take it on become recognized by the different Courts as -- as people who they know they can -- they can trust in that position. But I think you're right; there should be some sort of -- at least some level of -- of not maybe not certification but at least some level of special training and recognition before someone takes on that role.

SENATOR McDONALD: And when you are appointed by a judge and asked to be a GAL, I have heard a lot of times it goes uncompensated and it ends up being pro bono. Is that true?

GERARD ADELMAN: That -- that has gotten better. Many of the judges, especially the judges that do a lot of family law will -- will certainly protect the Guardian's fee. There are certainly cases, and I've had many of them, where the judge appoints you and -- and you know or the judge tells you that there's just no money in this case.

The one advantage you have as a Guardian is that your fee will typically become a court order, so you can enforce it. And the Bankruptcy Courts tend to rule -- not always

-- but tend to rule that a Guardian's legal fee is a form of child support and is not dischargeable in bankruptcy, so there is some protection for the Guardian.

SENATOR McDONALD: I only ask because, frankly, it's kind of hard to put substantial criteria around the appointment of a Guardian if there is nobody going to ever apply because there's no compensation for the services rendered. But in your experience, it's -- especially, I presume, when they are mutually -- when the parents mutually agree to the appointment that the fee is secured.

GERARD ADELMAN: To the best -- I mean, you know, you -- you -- you're dealing with people in, in dire -- usually -- at least in Meriden -- people who are in pretty much dire economic circumstances.

SENATOR McDONALD: Given the fact that if you are appointed by the General Assembly, you're probably not likely to see a family courtroom in the near term at least, do you have any reservations about your ability to show up in a G.A. and start adjudicating cases in a G.A. without any significant experience in that field?

GERARD ADELMAN: I did a great deal of G.A. work early in my career and --


GERARD ADELMAN: I mean, I haven't done it recently, but as I said in my opening statement, with the exception of a, you know, a Part A criminal trial, I can't think of too many areas in -- in -- in Connecticut's law system that I haven't participated in at one time or another.

SENATOR McDONALD: And is there any field of law or area of the state that you would prefer not to see on a regular basis as a judge?

GERARD ADELMAN: Aside from the driving situation, no.

SENATOR McDONALD: I do represent Stamford, by the way, so.


SENATOR McDONALD: You know, one of the things that we ask new nominees -- and you said it, you addressed it somewhat in your opening statement -- is, is there anything in your background that you can possibly conceive of that has not been disclosed to this Committee which if known would prove to be an embarrassment to yourself, to the Governor or to the General Assembly?

GERARD ADELMAN: No, I can't think of anything. The Governor asked me the same thing.

SENATOR McDONALD: Good question.


SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much.

Representative Fox, I believe, has some questions.

REP. FOX: Thank you. And congratulations on --


REP. FOX: -- your nomination.

I'd like to follow up a little bit on the Guardian ad litem and the attorneys for the minor child question, because it's an area that you have some expertise in. And one of the questions is: What -- how do you see the different between a GAL and an Attorney for the Minor Child; what roles do they play?

GERARD ADELMAN: Well, there's a -- there's a significant difference in the court process, and that is that the -- the Guardian ad litem is -- is given the assignment to -- to protect the best interest of the child. And the Guardian would -- would testify. If the matter came to a trial, the Guardian would actually testify as a witness. And most Courts will not allow a Guardian to file motions, for example; your role is -- your role is to report to the Court what you found and what your recommendations might be. In that light, you are -- you are making an independent determination as to what's best for this child and making recommendations to the Court, so the Judge of the Superior Court can make a final determination.

As an Attorney for the Minor Child, you're acting as an attorney. You're advocating the child's position, and your ethical responsibility would be that if the child's position as communicated to you is -- is not in that child's best interest, that you would ask the Court to appoint a Guardian to intercede. So as an Attorney for the Minor Child, you're acting as an attorney. As a Guardian ad litem, you're acting as a -- almost as an arm of the Court, a servant to the Court, making recommendations, you know, to the Court. That's the formal difference.

In -- in the reality of the situation as the case processes through and before it gets to the trial stage, there's really very little difference. And one of the significant roles that you can play, either as the AMC or the GAL is to help to facilitate an appropriate compromise between the parents. You're in a

-- you're in a unique position. Both parents are -- are attempting to win your approval. And you can use that, you know, if you play your cards close to the chest, you can use that desire to -- to change the behavior of the parents, to suggest things that they be doing, to suggest compromises to them.

And in -- in my practice, I've been, I think, extremely successful in helping to promote compromises and -- and settle divorce cases that have custody components rather than see if you could -- see it go to trial. If I'm a GAL and the case goes to trial, I kind of feel like I've not done a great job.

REP. FOX: Okay. And you also mentioned that you're involved with collaborative divorce.

GERARD ADELMAN: That's correct.

REP. FOX: And can you explain that a little bit to the --


REP. FOX: -- Committee members?

GERARD ADELMAN: The -- the collaborative divorce is a -- is a concept that has been around for 10 or 15 years, but it's growing in popularity in -- in Connecticut. Collaborative divorce is the concept where parties contract with one another and with their attorneys to negotiate the terms of their divorce outside of the court system, through a series of open and transparent negotiations.

And part of that agreement, part of that contract is an agreement not to go to court, so that if a party decides that the process is not working and they wish to go to court, both attorneys are required to resign and new attorneys, what we refer to as “litigating attorneys,” would come in and take over the case. It's a very controversial portion of the concept, and some people say, Well, I don't want to give up my client or my client shouldn't -- is at a disadvantage to start all over again. But it's a key part of the collaborative process, because that's the hook that holds people at the table when the negotiations become difficult. And just because they're doing it by agreement and negotiating doesn't mean it's not going to be difficult. The process works very well.

REP. FOX: Because I know in my area of southwestern Connecticut, there are a number of attorneys who favor that practice. I've not directly been involved in it, but I know it can work well and that --

GERARD ADELMAN: It -- it -- it's an amazing process to work -- to watch. And there are variations of it.

REP. FOX: Okay. Well, thank you.

Are there any other questions? Representative Gonzalez.

REP. GONZALEZ: Good morning.

GERARD ADELMAN: Good morning.

REP. GONZALEZ: And congratulations.


REP. GONZALEZ: Do you feel that then part of your role is as a judge to yell and intimidate defendants and lawyer from the bench?

GERARD ADELMAN: I'm sorry. Could you say the last part again?

REP. GONZALEZ: Do you think that your role as a judge would be to yell and intimidate defendants and lawyer from the bench?

GERARD ADELMAN: No, absolutely not. No. I mean, I think that -- I mean, I've been practicing for 26 years and I've been in front of many, many judges. And I've been -- the judges that I think have done the best job are the judges that have remained calm, you know, with an appropriate judicial demeanor and who give everyone, whether it's the attorney or -- or the parties the feeling that this person is actually listening to them and considering what they're saying and treating them -- and treating them fairly. Anything short of that is not, not appropriate behavior for a Judge of the Superior Court.

REP. GONZALEZ: You know, one of the complaints in my community is about the -- if you have a case, some of the people, they complain about the discrimination. And sometimes we check in about cases, they are -- that's the same case, no prior cases before --and when you see, you know, when you go in front of the judge, it's like some people complain that, Well, because I'm minority, look at, you know, the sentence that I receive, and look at the other case. And it's a -- it's a study out there that says there is a lot of discrimination in the court. Will you agree with that?

GERARD ADELMAN: I -- I've seen that study and -- and I think the numbers speak for themselves. I think it's the judge's responsibility to make sure that anybody that comes before that person, whether it's a minority person or not, feels that they've had a fair hearing. That's -- that's the nature, the whole essence of the judicial system that you've had an impartial person listen to your case and make a decision.

REP. GONZALEZ: Yeah, because I really believe that we don't look for special favors, what we look is for fairness in court.


REP. GONZALEZ: What kind of practice do you have, you know, what kind of training do you bring to the bench?

GERARD ADELMAN: Well, I -- I have 26 years of practice as an attorney, as I indicated in my opening statement, with a wide variety of legal activities. I have -- I worked as a schoolteacher for 12 years with -- with eighth grade -- eighth grade students. I never knew anybody different, but every -- every other teacher told me eighth grade was the worst ones to have. But I --


GERARD ADELMAN: I did that fine; I liked that.

I've -- I've had other jobs over the years. I have wide experience in -- in different, you know, different fields. I've -- I've been a father and now I'm a grandfather. I think I've -- I've served in a variety of committees and -- and social service agencies. I've been a Rotarian for over 25 years. I've -- I've been a -- on -- on the Board of Education in my town for eight years. And I -- I think I have the experience of my age and -- and the experience of my lifetime to help me act as a Superior Court Judge.

REP. GONZALEZ: Rumors in the Judicial Department is that the administration, you know, they said that a lot of times they control judges. And what do you feel about that, you know, knowing that if you did -- if you don't agree with the administration, you might, you know, they might come after you or whatever, you know, retaliation? What do you say about that?

GERARD ADELMAN: Well, not having been part of the judicial system before, I -- I've never heard that. And I -- so I -- I'm really not sure that I could comment on that in an --

REP. GONZALEZ: Okay, my --

GERARD ADELMAN: -- effective way.

REP. GONZALEZ: My question is: Let's say that you made a decision, and somebody in the administration said, Well, that's not the right decision and we don't want you to go that way. And after you made a decision but they come after saying, Sorry, but we don't -- we don't like that, what you will -- you will stick to your decision or you will go with them because they are the administration?

GERARD ADELMAN: No, I think that, you know, if I am lucky enough to be confirmed, I'll take an oath to obey the Constitution of this state and the United States, and I -- I -- I will be an independent jurist. I -- I can't imagine that I would -- that anybody could give me enough pressure to make me change a -- a -- a position that I've taking publicly and -- and then made a decision.

REP. GONZALEZ: Thank you.

GERARD ADELMAN: Thank you, Representative.

SENATOR McDONALD: Representative Morris.

REP. MORRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And good afternoon, Attorney Adelman.


REP. MORRIS: I am also interested in a lot of your expertise in the Family Courts. The cases that you've primarily handled, if you were to disaggregate them, would it be mostly the wives or the husbands you are representing or is it equal mix? And then if you could even just drill that down to in terms of moms and dads, because I understand you have the piece with the --


REP. MORRIS: -- kids involved, as well.

GERARD ADELMAN: Well, I've never count -- I -- I've -- I've certainly represented everyone. I -- I think as I -- as I think back, I've probably represented more women and -- and mothers than fathers, but not -- it wouldn't

-- it wouldn't be a -- a significant difference.

REP. MORRIS: Okay. With that be in mind -- because we've got a task force on fatherhood and we looked at a lot of issues and what have you in Family Court, so that's, you know, the reason for my question -- I'm trying to get some information here, your understanding of what's happening in the Family Courts. Because there's a perception among dads, you know, that we're hearing, that they are disproportionately affected, in particular when it comes down to custodial determination. Can you give us any insight?

GERARD ADELMAN: I -- I can. I mean, I do that -- I do that every day. And -- and I'm extremely sensitive to that. I'll tell you a little what I -- I've been married for 39 years and I have a pretty solid marriage, but when my daughter turned 18, I felt a great sense of relief because I knew I'd never have a custody battle over my daughter; so I'm -- I'm very sensitive to that.

And -- and I, when I represent -- well, even when I represent the women, you know, I've -- I've been in McDonald's and -- and, you know, see guys with their kids, you know, trying to spend an hour or two with them, and it's not really very good, quality time. And I certainly know the perception you're talking about. I think that is changing and I think it's changing rapidly, and I think that's for the good. More and more fathers are playing very active roles with their children, postdivorce. More and more fathers are asking for and getting parenting plans that give them significant time and significant input with their children. The days of the, you know, every-other weekend and -- and Wednesday-night father is -- is really changing rapidly. And -- and I think that's -- that's clearly for the good, for the good of the children.

REP. MORRIS: Your experience with the Family Court mediators, what have you noted has been the primary considerations that they use in determining custody, if they, you know, do that by way of their recommend additions?

GERARD ADELMAN: Um-hum. Well, I've -- I've worked with -- with many of them, and I think the, you know, the Family Relations Department -- the ones that I'm most familiar with are in Meriden and New Haven and Middletown -- are -- are excellent offices with a lot of really very fine people. I think there's been a -- a significant movement towards shared custody when that's appropriate. It's not always appropriate but -- but very often it is. I think that they're looking -- they're looking for an indication as to whether or not the parents have been involved with the children. They're looking for an indication that the parent is going to cooperate with the other parent, postjudgment. They're looking for any signs that a parent might attempt to denigrate the other parent and -- and try to poison the child, you know, from the other parent's love and affection. And I think, you know, when they see that kind of red flag, they act differently, but, for the most part, there's a real -- a real growing trend for more and more shared custody or if not shared custody, a more -- a much more meaningful parenting plan than what we had back in -- when I started in 1982.

In 1982, it clearly was let's give the kid to the mom, and dad can be around every once in a while. That's not the case anymore.

REP. MORRIS: So in terms of a child's

social-emotional development, have you witnesses and evidence of arguments being presented, either by counsel, you know, your counsel or the counter, you know, the counsel that's on the other side, or by way of the mediators in terms of the social-emotional development of kids and the value of father involvement? Do you ever hear that argument being raised or the --


REP. MORRIS: As a basis?

GERARD ADELMAN: That's becoming more and more common. I mean, the days of, you know, where an attorney could get up and say, Your Honor, you know, this is a young child, has to be with a mother, the tender years, nobody makes that argument anymore. That -- that's -- it's -- that argument has not been proven out statistically in psychological studies and so on. And that's just not a -- a -- an experienced family practitioner would not attempt to make that argument in a -- in a modern court. It just doesn't fly anymore.

REP. MORRIS: In addition to some of the things that were discussed earlier in terms of the GALs and the positive things that we need to take a look at in terms of criteria, that they all need to be on the same page, with appropriate training, are there any other recommendations that you could give us as a, you know, what you've evidenced in the Family Court that we should consider, policy-wise?

GERARD ADELMAN: Well, I -- I think, you know, there needs to be a -- a clear definition as to what the role of the Guardian and/or the attorney for minor children should be. When I first started, you know, the first case, we used to -- as Guardians, we used to write written reports to the judge; we don't do that anymore. We used to participate; now we're more witnesses. So I -- I think some, you know, some clear delineation as to what the roles should be is important. In my -- in my own practice, very often when I'm a Guardian I'll file a motion with the Court asking the Court to define my role in -- in many cases, because I'll need that kind of guidance.

REP. MORRIS: Now let's go to the -- take the next step and connect this to the -- to a position which can begin. Congratulations for your nomination (inaudible).


REP. MORRIS: In terms of you're -- now will be sitting, you know, in a bench and it's a criminal case, you know, not anything, you know, serious but, you know, low-level criminal offense, you know, involving where this mom or dad. How do you see your -- or do you see your experience in the Family Court affecting decisions that you make in terms of sentencing?

GERARD ADELMAN: That's a good question; I hadn't thought about that. I imagine it would impact me. I mean, I -- I -- I imagine I would be thinking about if this mom or this dad, you know, were away from this child for X period of time, how's that going to impact the child. I'm sure that would play a role in -- in -- in my decision and sentencing. I'm sure it would.

REP. MORRIS: What are your thoughts of, you know, alternatives to incarceration and, you know, other options that a judge would have at their availability, you know, tools that -- that will be -- that they'd certainly be at your disposal, you know, when you take in consideration? And I'm confessing, I'm throwing some of my bias in here, but there's -- but we've gone through here in the Legislature. You know, we --


REP. MORRIS: We, I think we've had enough research, there's enough sentencing task force and things going on to help us realize that the recidivism rate can be -- certainly be reduced if we were doing a little less incarcerating and more programming and things like that. So along those lines, I guess the question would be to you, you know, what's your thoughts in terms of that; you know, what's your position, your philosophical position?

GERARD ADELMAN: Well, philosophically, because obviously I have no position as a --


GERARD ADELMAN: -- as a judge, but philosophically, I think alternatives to incarceration are -- are -- are an advantage to society. I mean, our -- our -- our jails are crowded. It's expensive to incarcerate somebody. And it appears, as you indicated in the recidivism rate, that it -- it really doesn't do much good other than taking that person out of the society for a period of time.

I -- I think, you know, alternatives, if they're properly funded and properly organized and properly monitored, seem like an excellent alternative and -- and something that could be much more productive to -- to the State of Connecticut, and cheaper.

REP. MORRIS: Thank you.


REP. MORRIS: -- Attorney Adelman, and, again, congratulations.

GERARD ADELMAN: Thanks, very much.

REP. LAWLOR: Representative O'Neill, do you have a question?

REP. O'NEILL: I'm sorry. Thank you.

I was going through your form, the file with us. And I don't know, we seem to be having some technical difficulties with the printing up of all the answers to all the questions; I noticed it with the prior nominee. But on -- with respect to Question Number 22, which is present physical condition, my form shows a blank, and I was just wondering --

GERARD ADELMAN: That, it says excellent.

REP. O'NEILL: -- on yours.

GERARD ADELMAN: The form I submitted.

REP. O'NEILL: Okay. Thank you, very much.

REP. LAWLOR: I apologize for that, Representative O'Neill. I don't exactly understand what the problem is, but we'll figure it out and get a solution.

Are there further questions of this nominee? If not, thank you, very much, and congratulations, again.

GERARD ADELMAN: Thank you, very much.

REP. LAWLOR: Next is Mary-Margaret D. Burgdorff of West Hartford.

Good morning, Attorney Burgdorff. Would you please raise your right hand? Do you swear the testimony you're about to give will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?


REP. LAWLOR: Please have a seat. If you'd like to begin with an opening statement --


REP. LAWLOR: -- that would be okay.

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Good morning, Representative Lawlor and members of the Judiciary Committee. My name is Mary-Margaret Burgdorff. I'm honored and humbled to be before you today as a nominee for Connecticut Superior Court Judge. I want to extend my thanks to Governor Rell for this wonderful opportunity, and I want to thank you for your time today.

I have been engaged in the practice of law for the past 23 years. I started as an associate attorney, as Mary-Margaret Dalton, with the Law Offices of Edward T. Dodd Jr., in 1985, after graduating from St. Mary's College in 1981 and Gonzaga University School of Law in 1985. I became a partner in the firm in 1990. The firm is now known as Dodd, Lessack, Dalton & Dodd.

In the early years of my practice, I handled criminal, family, housing, and Social Security disability cases with a concentration on personal injury claims. I practice in both the federal, state, and Appellate Courts, as well as before the Workers' Compensation Commission. In addition, as part of my Workers' -- my firm's Workers' Compensation practice, I've handled Medicare submissions with regard to the settlement of Workers' Compensation claims.

I've tried cases, both jury and nonjury in the Superior Court as well as in arbitration proceedings. I've argued before the Connecticut Supreme Court. I've had the rewarding opportunity to serve as a

court-appointed fact finder and arbitrator in numerous cases at the Superior Court. I was able to facilitate the settlement of many cases in that role. I also had the invaluable experience of presiding over many cases and issuing written decisions on the issues of law and fact before me. In those instances, I awarded fair, just, and reasonable damages where appropriate. I believe that I was able to be fair and impartial to all parties, including those who appear before me without legal representation.

Over the years, I've been actively involved in the Waterbury Young Lawyers, the Connecticut Bar -- Bar Association Young Lawyers, and the American Association, Young Lawyers Division. I've been a member of Civitan since 1986.

My 23 years of practice have certainly been rewarding. I've handled a wide variety of cases, involving many areas of the law in diverse areas of technologies and fields. I've had the privilege of representing many people from diverse backgrounds from the indigent to the disabled, from children to the elderly, many of whom suffered serious and sometimes profound, life-altering injuries. I've been appointed to represent minor children as Guardian ad litem in both the criminal and civil courts.

I've also represented a number of people on a pro bono basis. I represented each of these individuals to the best of my ability and legal expertise and always with respect and compassion. While always zealously advocating for my client, I did so with respect and courtesy for opposed counsel and the judges I appeared before. I believe that all of these experiences have given me value, experience, and insight that will aid me in my role as a judge.

Growing up as the middle child in nine children also helped me to learn the art of mediation and compromise which has served me well in the practice of law, and I believe it will continue to do so if I am confirmed. My parents taught me to have a strong work -- work ethic and to perform every task to the best of my ability, regardless of the time and energy needed to complete the task at hand.

My husband, Brad, is here with me today, and I've been married for ten years. We have two wonderful daughters, Sarah who's 9 and Katie is 7. I grew up in West Hartford and we continue to reside there. I'm an active parishioner of St. Thomas the Apostle Church. My role as a parent has honed my organizational skills and strong work habits while handling a heavy caseload.

I would be honored to serve in any assignment as a Superior Court Judge, and I look forward to the opportunity to do so. I assure you that if I am confirmed, I will perform my duties to the absolute best of my ability and with impartiality and compassion.

I appreciate your time and attention, and I look forward to answering any questions you may have. Thank you.

REP. LAWLOR: Well, thank you, Attorney Burgdorff. Can I just ask you a couple of general questions? It appears from your questionnaire that you really haven't had any experience in the criminal courts, to speak of, over years. Is that the case?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: My -- probably my first four-to-five years of practice, I was in the G.A. just about every day, in Waterbury. I did spend quite a bit of time there, nothing on Part A, just minor offenses. And, actually, I did take the opportunity to go over to the Arraignment Docket in Waterbury, this past week, before Judge Iannotti's calendar, and that was, you know, it was a good refreshing of my memory and it brought it right back to me. So I have no problem; I think I'll be able to pick right up on that.

REP. LAWLOR: Because you understand that in all likelihood your first assignment will be in one of these busy, G.A. --


REP. LAWLOR: -- courts?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: -- I'm aware of that.

REP. LAWLOR: And there's nothing about that that makes you --

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Oh, no. And I understand it's a very fast pace. It's a very full docket, but I'm quite confident I'll be able to handle that.

REP. LAWLOR: And there's some issues, really more public policy issues than technical legal issues, but there is an overlap a bit, and they come up here quite a bit in the Legislature, and I just want to throw the two topics out to you to see what -- what your thoughts are on the two topics. First is crime victims' rights. I think you're aware, generally speaking, that over the past

15 years, there's been a real emphasis on promoting specific rights for victims of crime. And a lot of this involves how they're actually treated when they show up in a courthouse, you know, are they notified, for starters, once they get there, they're advised that they have rights too? And then there does come a time in the disposition of cases where the victims have a -- have the opportunity to address the Court and perhaps criticize a prosecutor or object to a plea bargain or ask for some special conditions, like restitution or a protective order, things like that. Are you generally familiar with that, and what are your thoughts on the specific rights of crime victims before the Court in the context of a criminal case involving them?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Well, certainly I think victim rights are an essential part of our criminal justice system. In fact, in my representative of -- of clients who were seriously injured -- and I also had a death case -- where the Victims' Advocate Office played a big role in the case in a sense that they were -- it was very therapeutic for my clients and their families. It was an excellent tool. It kept us advised of the -- the court dates. They took the opportunity to sit down with the prosecutor. They also attended the court hearing and made statements to the judge regarding the sentence that was being entered per a plea bargain and objected to the sentence that was being proposed. It, you know, it was very therapeutic to my clients, and I think it's an excellent tool.

And also, as far as any criminal aspect involved, it certainly protects the victim. They want to be aware of the sentencing. They want to be aware of any release from jail, that type of thing. So I think it's a wonderful program. And then certainly I've seen it in work and -- and it's -- I strongly advocate it.

REP. LAWLOR: Well, you know, it's not just a program, it's actually in the state constitution --


REP. LAWLOR: -- now, so --


REP. LAWLOR: -- it's a --


REP. LAWLOR: It's a substantive right for victims of crime.

And it sounds like from your experiences, you've gotten a big dose of the therapeutic value; I think you used --


REP. LAWLOR: -- that word -- for the victim, not so much that they have the ultimate say in what happens, but they have a voice in the process, that people are listening to them in the, in the sense that they're able to contribute something, that their point of view matters, that their -- one of the goals of the justice system is to provide some sense of justice to the actual victims. It sounds like you have a clear idea of --


REP. LAWLOR: -- the value of that (inaudible) --

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: And -- and certainly the judge listened carefully to my clients' statements, though I, in both cases that I recall, there was no change in the -- in the sentence that was given. But definitely they do deference to their statements.

REP. LAWLOR: And you understand that as a judge it's going to be your responsibility at the end of the day to ensure that victims' rights are respected in the criminal courts.

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Oh, yes, and I -- I will certainly make -- ensure that the victim has been notified. I mean, oftentimes the victims don't respond to notification, and that's certainly their right, but certainly I will ensure that that notification has -- has at least been made. If it hasn't, I will, you know, continue the matter until that's done.

REP. LAWLOR: Okay. And cause, you know, some of the complaints we've gotten from victims and advocates who advocate on behalf of victims is that clearly from time to time it's inconvenient to have the victim participate, either they can't be available on the day they want to dispose of the case or whatever. They can't be found easily when there needs to be a notification. But understand it's your obligation to enforce the law, even if the prosecutors and the defense attorney and the staff feel like it creates a problem in this particular case.

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Oh, no, I have no problem with that at all.

REP. LAWLOR: The other topic I want to just go through with you is one that is equally as important here at the Capital, and that is the issue of racial disparities in the criminal justice system. I'm sure you're generally aware that --


REP. LAWLOR: -- in the prison system, something like 72 percent of all the inmates are either African American or Latino. And there's clearly a perception of unfairness in those two communities, and that's expressed frequently here before the Judiciary Committee. And so I do want -- what is your take on that? What obligations do you think you'll have as a judge to both acknowledge it and address it where appropriate; what are your thoughts on that point?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Well, all I -- I can really just comment on my experience as a practicing attorney for the past 23 years, and I've represented people from diverse backgrounds; I've represented many minorities. And I have to say that being -- their being they're of a minority background didn't play any part in my representation of them. And I honestly can't recall an instance where I felt they were being discriminated against by an opposed counsel or a judge, and this is in a civil -- a civil court, which I understand isn't quite the same thing.

And I understand there is a problem with the racial diversity; however, as a judge I can just say that I will certainly be fair and impartial to everyone who appears in front of me, all defendants, regardless of their background. Everybody has the same, exact rights under our Constitution, and certainly that will not play any part in my role as a judge. Certainly if I -- if I have the opportunity where I witness such a -- such an occurrence happening, someone is being discriminated solely on their race, I will take steps to -- to correct that. But, again, from my -- my stand as a judge in the Superior Court, it certainly will not -- have no bearing on my -- my role.

REP. LAWLOR: And do you understand that's cause -- you know, I used to be a prosecutor, many years ago, and -- and I had a certain amount of authority in the courtroom. And looking back, I can -- although I don't think I was ever intentionally discriminatory, I can see that that was the effect of some of the decisions I made as a prosecutor. So sometimes it doesn't have to be that you are racist or that you are intentionally trying to discriminate or you're consciously treating -- treating people differently, but sometimes there's unintended events; like, for example, setting a bail, things like that --


REP. LAWLOR: -- that -- that -- and do you understand that it's going to be part of your obligation to carefully, on almost a day-to-day basis, almost on a case-by-case basis, to reexamine the decisions you make to ensure that you're not somehow inadvertently treating people differently, based on -- and sometimes there's an overlap; right? There's poverty, and there's race, and there's all these things. And sometimes it'd be easier to treat people who are, let's say, not represented by a high-powered attorney or who, you know, may also be mentally ill or homeless or whatever

-- and that tends to have a ripple effect, aggravating this racial disparity problem. So it's sort of going to be your job to be aware of that in a courtroom and try as best you can to not fall victim to the temptations --


REP. LAWLOR: -- (inaudible) --

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: I will do my best to do that. I will. If I have to take a step back and (inaudible) my (inaudible) training to my opinion, but, again, I -- I just -- I'm not that -- that's not how my -- how I'm made up. And I certainly never practiced law that way. They're some of the most wonderful people I've ever met and one -- you know, I enjoyed representing everybody that I've represented. So -- but, certainly, hopefully my overall role as a judge will be letting my compassion. I know people have problems, just situations that occur outside of their control that lead them into a predicament they never meant to get into, and I will certainly, you know, be fair and impartial and then hopefully exercise compassion where it's indicated, regardless of a person's background, their monitory makeup, that sort of thing.

REP. LAWLOR: Well, thanks.

And, you know, there's one, standard question we frequently ask the new nominees, and so let me just ask it. Is there -- apart from the things you've disclosed in your opening statement and on the various forms that you filled out for us, is there anything out there that you feel could prove embarrassing either to the Governor, as the person who nominated you, or the Legislature which is contemplating appointing you? Is there anything else that we're not aware of that we should be aware of?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: No, there's nothing else.

REP. LAWLOR: Well, thank you, very much.


REP. LAWLOR: And congratulations --


REP. LAWLOR: -- once again.

Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And congratulations.


REP. FOX: This is very exciting.


REP. FOX: My question is: In a very short time you're going to be asked, in all likelihood, to run a G.A. courtroom, which is a lot different than running a trial court where you have two lawyers and it's a little bit more controlled, hopefully. You'll be dealing with a lot of pro ses. You'll be dealing with people who are charged with their first offenses, applying for a pretrial diversionary program, and you'll make decisions as to whether or not to grant that. You'll have victims that you'll be dealing with, and oftentimes it's a crowded courtroom; sometimes large groups of people have to be moved in and out of the courtroom. And my question is: What are the characteristics that you think are important for a G.A. judge in terms of managing the courtroom, and what kind of image do you want to project to the people that come before you?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Well, I think, based on my practice for the past 23 years -- it's been a very busy practice -- and I'm very organized. And I also was the managing partner in my firm, so I was, you know, in charge of keeping the office running smoothly; and sometimes things could get a little bit hectic at times. But, you know, I'm familiar with the -- the G.A., and I understand how busy and bustley it does get in the G.A. And there's people coming in and out and, you know, there -- there was a huge docket. But, again, hopefully I'll have the opportunity to review all the cases before I actually go on the bench and have a good sense on what the cases are about, to the best of my ability. And I'll certainly be well versed in the law. And I -- I have no, you know, problems or any hesitation, and I think I'll be able to -- to run the courtroom in a very orderly fashion -- manner, but at the same time giving everybody the chance to speak that wants to speak to me, whether it's a defendant or a victim. And I

-- I certainly am looking forward to that opportunity.

REP. FOX: Well, thank you.


REP. LAWLOR: Are there further questions?

Representative Conway and then Representative Morris, and Representative Gonzalez.

REP. CONWAY: Good morning.


REP. CONWAY: As you've probably been following, there's been a great deal of discussion around the three-strikes-you're-out law --


REP. CONWAY: -- again, for Connecticut. If you could kind of give us your position on our current three-strikes-you're-out-law -- the persistent offender law is 53a-40 -- if you could give us your position on that?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Yes. I -- I -- I've just become familiar with that, and then certainly I think it will help get the more serious violent crimes up to the -- the Judicial District and get those taken quick -- care of on a quicker basis so that the public safety is held paramount; it's of most concern. I think that, you know, I, you know, I do understand that the -- the judge sitting in front of those cases does have discretion to determine whether or not the two prior strikes do fall within the nexus of the -- the current charge to determine whether or not the sentence enhancement is appropriate. So, you know, I do think it's right for a judge, if -- if -- if -- if possible under the law to have that discretion.

Certainly, you know, I understand the prosecutor has to if there's -- decides sentence enhancement is not indicated, has to state on the record why he or she believes it's not indicated, and then certainly I would be able to listen to those rules and maybe, you know, not agree with the -- the prosecutor's position on that. But I think the overall issue here is to, you know, protect the public and get these matters taken care of by experienced attorneys and get the matter taken care of as quickly as possible, just to protect the public safety.

REP. CONWAY: Do you -- do you see a need to strengthen our current three-strikes-you're-out laws?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: I -- I think it's still relatively new. I actually, you know, I haven't been -- been in the criminal courts for about 20 years, so I haven't actually seen it in play. But at this point, I just -- I don't know. I -- I'm hoping that'll be effective. It sounds like it will be effective.

REP. CONWAY: Thank you.


REP. CONWAY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FOX: Representative Morris.

REP. MORRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good afternoon.


REP. MORRIS: Congratulations on your appointment.

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Thank you, very much.

REP. MORRIS: Just a follow-up to some of the questions that Representative Lawlor had, and I think he -- he worded it, you know, profound, in his eloquent way. In terms of racial impact, if I understand you correctly, you said you didn't perceive that, you know, through the case and in the courts that you were working in, you had not observed anything that would have made you to feel that whether attorneys or judges were doing anything that was discriminatory. And Representative Lawlor was stressing the fact that you would need to, you know, it was a kind of self-check and

you --


REP. MORRIS: You certainly, you know, confirmed that you would do that.


REP. MORRIS: The question would be -- I guess it's a couple questions. Number one, in your career thus far, have you had any type of training around diversity and sensitivity training?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: No. No, no formal training. No.

REP. MORRIS: Okay. Number two, do you think it would be valuable for you, you know, as a person who if confirmed is going to be on the bench?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: No. I -- I, as I mentioned before, that's not how I'm made up. I -- I really don't think I have a prejudicial bone in my body and I just don't think that would be for me. Personally, it wouldn't be of any benefit, because I'm very cognizant of it and aware of it.

REP. MORRIS: Then I'm glad I did follow up with this questioning then. Because if you note it, I began with the way Representative Lawlor presented it was sort of that people who discriminate, for the most part, it isn't something intentional.


REP. MORRIS: It is something inadvertent. And that's why in my first question to you, I went back to making certain of my understanding from you is that you had not perceived that --


REP. MORRIS: -- you'd observed anything as discriminatory, because it's not your makeup. However, do you think there's a possibility that something could happen because it isn't your experience, you may not observe it if you've never had the training to recognize what those little nuances are?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Oh, absolutely. I -- I think -- I'm -- I -- I -- there's no question that it occurs. I mean, it probably is more I didn't recognize it in -- in the civil courts. I, you know, I -- I think that the opposing counsel and the judges on my civil cases were all -- treated my clients fairly. You know, we -- we often have diverse jury pools, and I didn't, you know -- you know, it's hard to know what's in someone's heart too. But certainly, you know, it's probably more prevalent in the criminal court. But I certainly, you know, if -- if they wanted to mandate that people take racial sensitivity courses, I'll be glad to do that.

But certainly I -- I mean, I guess I can base it on my -- when I was acting as a fact finder and I would actually preside over cases in a civil court. And I would sit there and think, okay, I'm predominantly a plaintiff's attorney, am I being fair to the defense on this side, on the defendant's part, because I, you know, typically that's what my practice was. And I -- I -- I always took a step back and said, Am I being, you know, more -- leaning more towards the plaintiff simply because they're a plaintiff? And I -- and -- and I would reanalyze all the facts and the law that applied, and I made sure that that was not affecting my decision.

And, likewise, I will certainly make a point of -- of doing that when there's a racial situation that comes before me. If someone has a minority background, I will say to myself, Well, am I going to, you know, use my discretion one way or the other, rule one way or the other based on that? Certainly I -- I understand that it is sometimes latent but I will certainly do my best and to be --

REP. MORRIS: Well --

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: -- as fair and impartial as I can.

REP. MORRIS: Well, I guess, similarly -- I mean, because it is part of what we're looking at you to do is see how well you're going to be able to logically analyze facts --


REP. MORRIS: -- objectively, look at all facts from all sides --


REP. MORRIS: -- so I -- I extend this question in terms of racial, ethnic or whatever, you know, sensitivity. If from your own experiential background the only facts that you have to operate on to determine whether you have considered diversity, all right, comes solely from your experiential background --


REP. MORRIS: -- then what do you have to help evaluate whether you're making a sound decision or certainly regarding cultural sensitivity, cultural differences that may affect a case?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Well, as a -- as sitting as a Superior Court Judge, I would -- I would have to look at the facts and the law that applies. And I don't think that I should let any of those cultural backgrounds enter into my decision. I think those -- that shouldn't be considered. I think I have to be fair and impartial to all of the people appearing before me, whether it's counsel, victims, defendant or plaintiff. So I -- I -- you try not to let those -- those cultural background differences come into play in my decision making, and I've certainly strived to do that.

REP. MORRIS: Do you think a person's outward affect would play any role in your decision making, how they present themselves?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: I -- I -- the only thing I can think, off the top of my head, is maybe someone with a disrespectful attitude towards a Court. I know that happens sometimes in the criminal court, someone comes in and has a attitude or acts in a disrespectful manner to the Court. That would probably be the only issue that would affect me.

REP. MORRIS: Would it be your perception, if you had a person who was a defendant and they failed to make a lot of eye contact with you as a judge and kept their head down, and while you're trying to admonish them to look up they just kept their head down and didn't comply with your wishes, would you perceive that as being disrespectful?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: I would hopefully have compassion in that situation. I'm assuming the, you know, I would assume that the person in front of me is probably scared and probably was too scared to look at me. So I, you know, if I thought they were doing it in somewhat an insolent manner, they're refusing, you know, to give the proper -- proper deference to the court, then perhaps. I can't really comment on that because I haven't actually been in that situation, but certainly I would have -- hopefully have compassion as well.

REP. MORRIS: Okay. I'm going to discontinue this line of question.


REP. MORRIS: But I hope you're kind of hearing what I'm --


REP. MORRIS: Because I am concerned that, at least with your response in terms of, I guess, you're seeing your own, personal need or willingness to be involved in any type of sensitivity training, and what I hear you saying is if it was something mandated, you would do it. And in regard to the law that we've put in place, that we just did -- and, in fact, something about a year ago, through Judge Lawlor, there was additional sensitivity trainings provided to judges, is because people that are probably well-meaning people

-- well-meaning people, not that they intend to do something wrong, but unintentionally, because if the only facts you have in life are

your own experiences, we may not recognize

it --


REP. MORRIS: -- and often do not recognize cultural differences that certainly have an impact on the way a person operates in, in -- throughout the judicial system and just a whole range of outcomes that we end up -- we have the data to show that we've given a different set of outcomes --


REP. MORRIS: -- for people who don't look like ourselves, even though we're well-meaning. So I would encourage you, certainly if you are, you know, successful in this nomination, based on what I've heard, to maybe do that on your own. And so --


REP. MORRIS: -- thank you.

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: I -- I don't want to say I would not -- I would only participate, you know, if I was forced to participate. Certainly, again, I mean, I know you don't know me. I don't know you. But I can assure you that that is not in my makeup. I do not in any way treat people differently because of their backgrounds. And if you saw my practice in the last 23 years, you would -- you would agree with me. So certainly I don't want to appear to be disinclined to do that. Certainly if I think at some point I need to do it, I will. But, again, it's not as a, you know, of any disinclination to do so.

REP. MORRIS: And, again, I have no evidence of anything you've done differently. It's a matter, I guess, as I'm -- as I'm looking at a nominee for judge, I am also evaluating your, your openness --


REP. MORRIS: -- all right, to be challenged with your experiences. Because if you -- for me, it's a matter of a person; I'd consider your objectivity. And you seem to be a wonderful person, so please don't get me wrong by --


REP. MORRIS: -- whatever impression I'm giving here; okay?


REP. MORRIS: All right. But in terms of objectivity, all right, and that's what we're determining today; you're going to be a new judge.


REP. MORRIS: All right? So certainly I am weighing how well I feel that you logically analyze information. And it is -- you're no different than anyone else. I mean, a psychologist if one were here would say, Listen, we all have our own experiential background we bring to the table, no matter how professional we try to say we are.


REP. MORRIS: All right. And if we don't recognize that and -- and try to do some things to at least offset that or help give us balance, it could become problematic.


REP. MORRIS: I wish you well.


REP. MORRIS: And thank you.

REP. LAWLOR: Representative Gonzalez.

REP. GONZALEZ: Congratulations on --


REP. GONZALEZ: -- your appointment.

Do you feel that transparency on the judicial system is important to a citizen of Connecticut?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: I'm sorry. Could you repeat that?

REP. GONZALEZ: Do you feel that transparency on the judicial system is important to the citizen of Connecticut?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: The Judicial Selection Committee?


MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Yes. I mean -- I mean, I don't really know exactly what -- what -- I submitted the application and I, you know, had the interview. I filled out, you know, I met with the -- the Committee, but I don't know exactly what criteria they used in deciding whether someone should be approved to be on the -- the -- the list of -- of -- of candidates. I -- I don't know why it isn't as transparent as you, perhaps you feel it should be. I don't. I just don't know enough about it to understand how they've come to their decision on who should be on the list.

REP. GONZALEZ: Do you believe that any complaints you -- you as a judge -- do you believe that any complaints that people put, you know, against you, do you believe that people should know about them?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Well, as a judge, hopefully I won't have any.

REP. GONZALEZ: I hope not but --

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: But I -- certainly I think if -- if it -- if it's -- if there's merit to the -- to the complaint and it's properly investigated, then obviously the public should know about it, you know, that -- that there's a judge sitting on the bench with a valid complaint registered.

REP. GONZALEZ: What do you think about judges elected by the public?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Well, I think that having judges elected to the Superior Court would probably affect their fairness and partiality as judges, because I think there's a -- there a -- a -- a probability or a possibility that they could be influenced by people who contributed to the campaign for the judge. There -- I -- I mean, I don't -- I really didn't, haven't given that much thought, but I -- it just seems like it's -- it's -- I think hopefully all the judges that become judges are well vetted by the various application processes we go through and they -- such as this body, the investigation you make into all the nominees before you. And certainly I -- hopefully that would -- that's enough to ensure that we have good judges getting on the bench.

REP. GONZALEZ: We have judges elected by the public, the Probate Judges.


REP. GONZALEZ: So why one yes, you know, the Probate Court Judges yes, and not the criminal judges?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Yeah, I -- I don't know. I -- I -- I actually haven't given that thought either. You know, the Probate Court is a different court system, obviously, and you're dealing with estates and people who are going to be found to be incompetent for whatever reason. So I, yeah, I -- I just don't know enough to -- about that to comment on that.

REP. GONZALEZ: If you have to run for that position, let's say that you want to become a judge but you have to run to be elected, will you run for that position?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: If I had to run for the position? I -- I -- I honestly don't know. I don't know if I'd run for it. I'm not a -- a very political being, so I'm not sure if that's something that I would do.

REP. GONZALEZ: So -- but you know that this position, even though that it's not elected by the public, it's political also.

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Well, I can say that I have not been politically active of -- at all because of my practice, and then I started a family. And I just, I never had the time to become politically active. So I understand there are some politics involved, but I, in my case, I don't see there -- I don't really know how much of that was politically a motivated draw, because I, like I said, I don't have any political connections.

REP. GONZALEZ: You never been involved in your community? Never --

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: No. I, you know, I'm -- I'm a member of Civitan, since 1986, but other than that, I haven't been. In my -- you know, my church, I'm involved with my -- my church.


MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: But not as far as town politics, no.

REP. GONZALEZ: If a person is in front of you and you, you're going to sentence that person, and -- but the person you see that they don't have no family support around him, around her, will you think that that person is a bad person because there's no family support --


REP. GONZALEZ: -- in court?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Oh, no, not at all. No. No. I -- I -- I really feel I'll be fair and impartial to every person that comes in front of me, and I will, you know, listen to whatever that person wants to say to me and hopefully, as I said, have compassion for everyone that comes in front of me.

REP. GONZALEZ: If a -- if you get appointed, elected for that position, and let's say that after certain time on the bench you notice that you got problems, there are a lot of complaints against you and you realize that that -- you realize that they are problems, will you ask for help to the administration?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Well, I -- I mean, that's hard to tell. That's kind of a question in a vacuum; I mean, hopefully I won't ever come to that point. But certainly if I ever become overwhelmed or I think I can't handle it, I will, you know, get assistance from whoever I need to get assistance from. But hopefully, I mean, I do feel quite confident that I'll be able to be a capable judge.

REP. GONZALEZ: Okay. Thank you.


REP. GONZALEZ: And congratulations, again.


REP. FOX: Thank you.

Representative O'Neill.

REP. O'NEILL: Thank you.

I'm trying to remember what my question was. And I'm sorry to say that I cannot remember it and that looking over your questionnaire doesn't refresh my memory as to what the question was. Oh, yeah, now I see it. Okay. You almost got away.

The Question Number 18, the question was if you've ever been sued for malpractice. And it says in 2006 you were sued by a prison inmate, pro se, and that it arose out of representing that individual in a dog-bite attack in 1998. And since you didn't -- you basically say you haven't done any criminal work, I'm just curious as to how it was you were representing -- was this person in prison at the time of the dog-bite attack?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: No. This was -- he was represented by prior counsel when he was attacked by the dog, and he discharged prior counsel. And then he was incarcerated, and he called my office from prison, asking us to represent him. And the senior partner thought it was a dog bite, you know, it can't be that difficult of a case. Unfortunately, there was a lot of problems with the case, and I took the case over, dealing with the -- the gentlemen while he was incarcerated, during his whole period of time. And it was -- it was a tough case. There was a lot of liability problems, but we were able to negotiate a very favorable settlement for him. He was quite pleased with the settlement and signed the release and wrote me, you know, several thank-you letters complimenting me on my representation. And then two years later, he decided he wasn't happy and he sued me. So I was a bit shocked by that because it was, you know, it was a very good settlement, in light of all the circumstances.

So -- and if you look at the Judicial web site, he's filed many, many lawsuits, and he's filed -- it's my understanding he's filed a number of grievances against attorneys as well as judges that he's appeared before.

This case was dismissed. There no -- it's found to be no merit in it. And then just about a week after Christmas, in 2008, he filed a suit against me again for the same thing, alleging breach of contract. And he has actually sued, I think, three or four other individuals in the same lawsuit; we each had our own paragraph. And it's -- it's my understanding that's going to be dismissed as well, though I think that's still pending in the court.

REP. O'NEILL: Is he still incarcerated?


REP. O'NEILL: I see. Okay. So he was -- the dog bite, the incident that gave rice to the

dog-bite case occurred while he was not incarcerated; is --


REP. O'NEILL: -- that correct?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: That was -- and before I was -- I represented him. I think it happened in 1998. And then he hired counsel and other counsel who he then subsequently discharged. I think that he was in prison at that time, as well, and he discharged them and then had to get new counsel.


MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: But I just thought it was going to be a fairly straightforward case, just because it was strict liability, but unfortunately there were some facts I wasn't aware of when I took the case.

REP. O'NEILL: Okay. And I'm just curious, because you -- and with respect to the settlement in the matter, if he was incarcerated at the time of the settlement, did the state have, assert some sort of a claim or a lien --


REP. O'NEILL: -- in the case?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: -- they never did. I never got a incarceration notice -- an incarceration lien notice from the state, so that was not an issue. I -- I'm not sure why they didn't. I think he had several aliases, so that may have been one of the reasons you didn't catch it. So -- but --

REP. O'NEILL: Well, we're on television, I think. Okay.


REP. O'NEILL: Thank you, very much.


REP. FOX: Representative Green.

REP. GREEN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

A few questions. Just to follow up on some line of questioning, I think, from Representative Lawlor and Representative Morris, do you believe there's racial disparities in the criminal justice system, particularly in the court system?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Yes, in a -- in the criminal court system. Yes, I do.

REP. GREEN: And could you elaborate on that and what do you see and what do you think is there?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Well, I'm aware of this

-- this -- the Commission and the study that found the disparity regarding arrests and -- and incarcerations. And, you know, obviously there is a problem, you know, that -- that something needs to be addressed to remedy that problem.

But, again, I, you know, I can just tell you that as a judge I will be fair and impartial to all the people who peer -- appear in front of me, regardless of their background. And I certainly go out of my way to be fair and impartial. I -- and I, again, I will take a step back and -- and make sure that I am not having any latent prejudices that I have that I'm not aware of that will affect my decision. And if I feel I need to, I'll take a -- part of any assistance I can to make sure that does not occur. But from -- from the -- the point where these people come before me, I will, again, I'll be fair and impartial to everyone who's in front of me. And, you know, when it comes to sentencing, I will give due consideration to the -- the -- the background of the -- of the defendant, his past or his or her past criminal history, any family that are in attendance that want to make a statement, a victim that wants to make a statement. I will do my best to ensure that a racial background does not come into play. And, I mean, I can assure you of that, and that's all I can do.

REP. GREEN: It sounded like you had some experience in criminal court but you also, I think, stated that that was very limited.


four-or-five years of practice, I was at the G.A. pretty much every day on minor criminal and motor vehicle offenses. So I -- I, you know, was a regular, meeting with the prosecutors and sitting in the courtroom, appearing before the judges. I never had an actual criminal trial and never actually tried a case, but I was very familiar with the system and, you know, and negotiated many, many plea bargains on behalf of my clients.

REP. GREEN: In your years as -- in the court system and dealing with judges, have you ever felt that you saw any characteristic of a judge that -- that sort of questioned their, either demeanor or their actions? Did you ever feel that way in any of your work with the courts?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: And so as far as the judge requesting my demeanor?

REP. GREEN: The behavior of the judge. No, the behavior or --


REP. GREEN: -- the demeanor of the judge.

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: I think, probably, in my early part of my practice, there were some judges that, you know, were a little bit tough. Having conversations with them in the court, you know, had probably, I guess, more than anything, were not as patient as maybe they should have been. But for the most part, all the judges have been, you know, patient and considerate to all of the people in the courtroom, the staff, the party, the jurors. But, you know, that was years ago. I didn't have any experience like that in the last

15, 20 years.

REP. GREEN: And so your current experience has been in what kind of court system?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: The civil. The civil (inaudible) --

REP. GREEN: Civil court.

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: The -- I'd say the past 20, 18-to-20 years, primarily civil and with quite a bit of Workers' Compensation experience too.

REP. GREEN: Um-hum. If you -- and even in the work that you do now -- if you felt that the judge's demeanor was something that sort of questioned, was a question in your mind, would you feel comfortable in addressing that judge on those feelings?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Well, if it was something to the extent that it impacted my client, because if I felt my client was not getting a fair deal in that civil case, certainly I would, you know, I would take measures to address that. I mean, if -- you know, it's one thing for him, if the judge wants to take out something on me, but if I feel like it's impacting adversely my client, then I would have a -- probably have a problem. But I never had to have that situation come up where it was -- that was -- I felt that was necessary.

REP. GREEN: But if you felt that the judge might have been sort of disparaging to you, you would feel that that's okay for the judge to do?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: No. No. No, absolutely not. I don't think that's appropriate in the courtroom at all. But, again, you know, if -- you know, this is years ago I had judges be disparaging to -- to me. I mean, with a -- I mean, it was probably in a short calendar matter where my client wasn't present. But, you know, you just, that was part of being a young lawyer and, you know, you just have to understand, you know, sometimes a judge is grumpy for whatever reason. But it was never anything that I felt like he ruled against me because of his, you know, his demeanor. It was just, you know, it was just a bit grumpy.

REP. GREEN: And could you maybe tell me a little bit about your personality to sort of give me a sense of how you might accept, if you were a judge, any kind of feedback or criticism from anyone, staff in the court, attorneys or anyone?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Oh, I would be very interested to get feedback. If someone's perceiving me to, you know, not be, you know, being a judge in a -- in a competent manner or not in a civil manner or there's a appearance of unfairness of partiality, I would want to know about it right away so that I could make -- take, you know, the proper measures to ensure that doesn't happen again. I would be very interested to get that feedback.

REP. GREEN: We recently -- we've had a lot of discussion on race in the age of a juvenile from 16 to 17 in adult courts. Do you have any opinion on whether or not we should treat juveniles, 16 and 17-year-olds as juvenile or adults in the criminal court system?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: I -- I -- that's the one area I have no experiences is Juvenile Court. I think I went once, maybe 20 years ago, and I just -- I just don't feel comfortable answering about -- answering that. I guess -- I guess as a judge I'd have to, you know, look at all the facts and circumstances, consider the nature of the crime, that sort of thing. But I, you know, I just prefer not to get into that because I just don't know enough about it.

REP. GREEN: Well, do you think 16 and 17-year-olds can make decisions or have the, I think, intellectual, maybe emotional development that their actions should be treated as adult criminals or not?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Well, I -- I -- I wouldn't be able to answer that on a general basis; I don't think that would be fair. You know, I'd certainly think you have to take it on a case-by-case basis but, you know, look at the background, the character of the individual, the -- the offense that's been committed, the safety of the public, that sort of thing. But, again, that'd just be, at this point, conjecture on my part.

REP. GREEN: Currently, I think we have those individuals probably 14 and up who are charged with certain crimes can be tried as adults.

Are you -- what is the current practice now in terms of how that's handled in terms of juveniles being in adult courts?

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: I have no idea. I -- I don't practice juvenile law and criminal law, so I -- I couldn't be -- couldn't answer that.

REP. GREEN: Okay. Thank you.


REP. FOX: Are there any other questions from members of the Committee? And seeing none, thank you.

MARY-MARGARET BURGDORFF: Thank you, very much.

REP. FOX: The next person is Corinne Klatt of Meriden.

Good afternoon, Attorney Klatt.

CORINNE KLATT: Good afternoon.

REP. FOX: If you could, just raise your right hand. And do you swear that the testimony you're about to give before the Committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?


REP. FOX: Thank you, and good afternoon.

CORINNE KLATT: Good afternoon.

REP. FOX: And if you have an opening statement --


REP. FOX: -- feel free.

CORINNE KLATT: And I know that some of the parties are not here but I know they're here in spirit.

Good -- good afternoon Representative Lawlor, Senator McDonald, Representative O'Neill, Senator Kissel, and members of this Judiciary Committee.

My name is Corinne Klatt, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Governor Rell for this nomination and to tell you how deeply honored I am by the nomination.

I am a lifelong resident of Meriden, attending Meriden schools and graduating from Maloney High School in 1975. I graduated St. Joseph College, West Hartford, Connecticut in 1979 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. I then attended the University of Connecticut School of Law, graduating in May of 1982, with my Juris Doctor. I was admitted to the Connecticut Bar in October 1982. I have been married for 25 years to Hank Klatt. We have two children, Alyssa, who is a student at Middlesex Community College and Douglas who is a senior at Wilcox Technical School.

I started my legal career briefly working before a private attorney in New Britain. In August 1983, I was hired as a Staff Attorney in the Legal Assistance to Prisoners Program run by the Connecticut Prison Association. My employment there consisted of providing legal representation to Connecticut prisoners in all civil matters. I handled divorce, child custody, parental rights, paternity, and certain personal injury matters. I represented prisoners in pardon and parole hearings, federal Civil Rights actions, and bankruptcy cases.

In April 1985, I became in -- began my employment as Deputy Assistant State's Attorney in the Waterbury Judicial District. I started in the Geographical Area court and within two years moved to the Part A court. I have tried every classification of criminal offense and taken over 60 cases to verdict as a sole trial counsel.

In 198 -- '94, I became Supervisory Assistant States Attorney for G.A. #4 in Waterbury. I am responsible for the prosecution of criminal and motor vehicle cases as well as the administration of a busy G.A. office with approximately 250-to-500 cases on the daily docket. With six attorneys under my supervision, we prosecute all criminal cases from misdemeanors to selected B felonies. I am known as a hands-on supervisor; I manage the pretrial and trial docket -- dockets s along with my administrative duties. I have developed the ability to reach a resolution in a criminal case that is satisfactory to all parties, state, defense, victims, and police.

I have participated in the formation of several specialty dockets: Domestic Violence, Community Court, Drug Court. I am order -- also a Certified Police Instructor for the regional police training in legal issues and sex assault cases. I am a participating member of our multidisciplinary team known as CAIT which coordinates the activities of several state and police agencies in the prosecution of child abuse and sex abuse cases. I am certified in Finding Words, a forensic interviewing course for child sexual abuse children.

Over the course of my legal career, I have balanced being a strong advocate for the State of Connecticut and at the same time treating all defendants and defense counsel with respect and dignity. I have earned not only the respect of the legal community in which I practice law but also their trust. I have spent nearly my entire career in public service in the courtrooms for the State of Connecticut. I seek a judicial appointment because I believe my legal knowledge and experience, my leadership skills, and my personal temperament would contribute to the administration of justice in this state.

I look forward to your questions and, again, thank you for your consideration.

REP. FOX: Thank you. And, once again, congratulations.


REP. FOX: Many people come before us who have not been in a G.A. for a long time; it doesn't sound like you would fit into that category.


REP. FOX: And I would anticipate that you would expect what you're going to find in a G.A. courtroom if you're assigned there in the very near future. But how do you feel about a year or so from now if you're assigned to the Civil Docket or the Family Docket, which is an area that you haven't really practiced? I assume there's some -- there certainly will be some challenges that go with that, but I'd like to know how you feel about that possibility.

CORINNE KLATT: Well as part of the appointment, there's going to be challenges, no matter where, even in the criminal side, simply because you are approaching it from a different point of view. I am not completely unfamiliar with civil cases; obviously I started out doing solely civil matters. And certainly over the course of the past 23 years working with other state agencies such as DCF, such as Family Services, I have some intro into working civil cases. But I think the vast majority of what I will do is rely on my experience in the courtroom, either as a trial attorney arguing motions, running the docket, my willingness to look to the statutes and my willingness to use the case law that's available to us. We have Westlaw that's available to us as prosecutors, and I'm sure that on the bench, you'll have that. And I'm going to rely on my experiences in the courtroom in that decision-making ability to hopefully guide me through the civil side.

REP. FOX: Okay. And also I see that you say you participated in the formation of a number of the different dockets, the Community Court, the Drug Court --


REP. FOX: -- and I would ask you, what are your opinions upon -- about those dockets and how you feel about the pretrial diversionary programs that go with those dockets?

CORINNE KLATT: Community Court is one that's -- and Domestic Violence Docket in our court are the two that are remaining; Drug Court has since moved on. They are part and parcel of our caseload. The pretrial diversionary programs that are available mostly come through the Arraignment Court not necessarily through a Community Court. In fact, quite often you might refer a case to Community Court as opposed to making someone use their diversionary program, such as an accelerated rehabilitation. Our exposure to pretrial diversionary programs is mostly through either a bail consideration or perhaps sometimes as part of a conditional guilty plea.

REP. FOX: And I also see that you talk about Fighting Words, which is a program --


REP. FOX: -- for children, victims of sexual abuse. And while maybe it's not relevant to the, your appointment today, it is something that some of the Committee members might find interesting if you can talk about that.

CORINNE KLATT: It is. It's a training course that was devised with the understanding and recognition -- excuse me -- recognition that sex abuse, especially young sex abuse victims go through a host of different emotions, that they -- people need to understand that there is a particular way to go about interviewing these witnesses. The multidisciplinary teams were set up by state statute. It -- they recognize that child abuse victims were being what we call “revictimized.” And by that we

-- we mean that so many people were asking them questions, first the police and then the prosecutors, then they had to go in and they testified. And -- and then a host of other good meaning people would be asking them questions. And, in essence, they were being revictimized.

Finding Words is a course that teaches one how to interview a young child. It teaches you what emotions they're going through. It teaches you what understanding and how they will describe what happens to them. Like a young child might not refer to someone as a “bald man,” they might refer to them as “a man with little hair.” And it teaches you that. And it also teaches -- for some individuals, because it's open to DCF workers as -- and police officers -- how not to be leading in terms of the questioning. I found it very informative. I thought it was a wonderful course, and I highly recommend it to our other prosecutors.

REP. FOX: Thank you. And, lastly, the Chairs aren't here so I'll ask the question: Is there anything in your background that you can think of that might prove embarrassing, either to the Governor who appointed you or the Legislature, which would approve you?

CORINNE KLATT: No, there is not.

REP. FOX: Okay. Thank you.

Any questions? Representative O'Neill -- oh, Representative Tong.

REP. TONG: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just wanted to make sure the ranking member had a chance first. Congratulations.


REP. TONG: And thanks for being here. I want to chat with you briefly about temperament. You know, in your opening statement you talked about being a strong advocate for the State of Connecticut, and we honor your service and thank you for that. And over the years it's been, as a prosecutor, your job to take the state's position and to be an aggressive advocate for that position. Now you have to make this transition to being a judge and to be not on the other side but now in the middle. And have you -- I'd like to know your thoughts on that transition. Have you thought about it; how you'd approach it; do you think it's going to be an easy transition or difficult; and, how are you going to get there?

CORINNE KLATT: A host of questions there. As part and parcel of being a prosecutor, you do have to do a great deal of negotiating with the other side. I certainly have always respected fellow defense counsel and listened to their side and to their point of view. I've been very open minded when they had suggestions regarding a possible sentence. Without question, you have to do a balancing. Particularly when you're running in a pretrial docket, you have to balance what is an appropriate sentence, what is a -- how does a victim feel about it. There are a number of factors that you're taking into consideration when you make a recommendation. And I think that that will carry over to my -- should I be confirmed -- my position on the bench.

I'm certainly open to listening to all sides. I respect an individual's need to do his job, so to speak, to be before me, to state his or her position. I intend to listen to everyone fully, carefully and with due respect. It's certainly what I've done as a prosecutor; I think that's part of my reputation as a prosecutor, and it would certainly continue should I be confirmed a place on the bench.

REP. TONG: Would you be concerned because of your extensive experience as a -- as a State's
Attorney that you might be perceived fairly or unfairly as a prosecutor's judge, and how would you guard against that perception?

CORINNE KLATT: I -- certainly that -- that's always a concern that -- that we have as -- I believe what I would do is listen to feedback from other defense counsel. There certainly is constant feedback that we would receive, and I would listen to that and make my changes as deemed appropriate. There is certainly a great deal of support that I've noticed amongst the judges. I would certainly go to my mentor. If there was something that I'm doing wrong, I would certainly make immediate changes.

I've always been a very open minded and very fair minded individual. I would hope that would not lead to a problem. I understand as being an advocate for the state; that's my job. Being an advocate for the defendant, that's the defense job. I understand that there's both parties there and I'll be able to listen to both.

REP. TONG: And do you think, where appropriate, you will -- do you think you'll receive that feedback or solicit it, where appropriate?

CORINNE KLATT: I would do both. I would. I would actively solicit it. I -- I -- my attitude toward being a lawyer has always been I want to be the best that I can. And I would actively seek it, get feedback from my mentor, from fellow judges. I want to do the best job I can on the bench, and that's the way I've been throughout my career. So I would actively seek it.

REP. TONG: Just to switch gears for a second, you may have seen, you know, in these hearings in the past that -- and read in the press -- that we've been particularly concerned with and trying to address racial disparities in the administration of justice. How have you seen or dealt with racial disparities as a prosecutor, first?

CORINNE KLATT: We have -- obviously the Governor's Office has made available to us the active disparities' report. The -- the statistics were alarming to us. The -- as a prosecutor, they obviously bring us or give us mandatory training in diversity, in anger management, even. There are many number of seminars -- sexual harassment -- that they have sent us to. I guess reading the report, I was rather surprised by the statistics. I -- it is something that I will certainly keep in the back of my mind throughout the entire course of things. I will tell you that if there is some hope for changing those statistics, it would be directed towards the pretrial diversionary programs that we have out and that we are available to. I think that I am

-- just will constantly be aware of the -- the statistics that are out there and move within the Judicial Department to try to change that.

REP. TONG: When you say you were surprised by those statistics, many of us aren't surprised at all. And, you know, it's interesting that you say that you were surprised by them, that I would think that as a prosecutor, you'd see those statistics bear out in everyday life on a day-to-day basis.

CORINNE KLATT: The -- as -- as odd as it's going to sound, you don't see the defendants on a regular basis, you see the defense counsel; you don't have a face-to-face recognition with the defense counsel -- excuse me -- with the defendants. And -- and the way the courtrooms are set up, you really don't see the defendants.

The decisions that you are making are going to be based on the facts that you have before us, the criminal record, victims' feelings, and race is not a factor that comes into play. That's not something I would even remotely look at.

As -- as a judge, obviously the person is standing before you, but we don't have

one-on-one contact with defendants.

REP. TONG: When you say it's something you wouldn't look at, I mean, as a judge, I just want to square that with your comment that you would keep it in your mind. As a judge, it's certainly an issue that infects the administration of justice, and it's part of the process. So what role do you have as a Superior Court Judge to monitor racial disparities in the administration of justice, and what obligation do you have to remedy them?

CORINNE KLATT: I think that as a decision maker, you must keep in mind the racial disparities that are there. You must make -- and the report goes on; I mean, this is not a -- a subject that we're going to correct in a very short time. This is going to take time in all agencies of government to work on. What we would have to do on the bench is to -- in my opinion -- place defendants that are of a particular -- either African American or Hispanic -- give them the opportunity, more opportunities towards the diversionary programs as a very start of the process. Give them the opportunities that -- in lieu of just placing them in jail. Give them, further, the opportunities to be able to work towards a sentence of probation. That would hopefully eliminate the disparity of how many individuals are -- how many incarcerated individuals are of a African American background.

REP. TONG: Thank you.

REP. FOX: Thank you, Representative Tong.

Are there any other questions from members of the Committee? And seeing none, thank you, very much.


REP. FOX: Next is Vernon Oliver of Portland.

Good afternoon.

VERNON OLIVER: Good afternoon.

REP. FOX: If you could just raise your right hand? And do you swear that the testimony you're about to give before the Committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?


REP. FOX: Thank you. And if you have an opening statement, feel free to --

VERNON OLIVER: I do, briefly.

REP. FOX: -- (inaudible).

VERNON OLIVER: Good afternoon, members of the Judiciary Committee, Chairman McDonald.

My name is Vernon Oliver, and I'm honored to have this opportunity to come before you. I wish to express my thanks to Governor Rell for nominating me for appointment as a Judge of the Superior Court, and my thanks to this Committee for the time and effort --

A VOICE: Thank you.

VERNON OLIVER: -- dedicated to this task.

I live in Portland with my wife and our three-year-old daughter and one-year-old son. And prior to our marriage, I lived for ten years in the south and west ends of Hartford. I was born and raised in the north end of Bridgeport, graduating from the public schools. I was fortunate to have a loving -- a loving family and strong, caring parents who valued formal education, despite its absence from their own lives. From them, I learned the importance of faith, family,

self-reliance, and public service.

While a student at the University of Connecticut, I volunteered as an intern at the Office of Adult Probation in Hartford. And also while in college, I volunteered as an intern in the Bridgeport Office of the Public Defender. I then attended the University of Connecticut School of Law, and during law school I was employed as Neighborhood Legal Services in Hartford as a legal intern focussing on landlord-tenant law. I was a member of the Moot Court Board competing in national competitions, and in 1997 my team was awarded Best Brief in a national competition in Florida.

That summer, I was a summer associate at Cohen & Wolf in Bridgeport, where I researched and wrote on -- on a variety of issues related to commercial litigation.

After law school, I was employed as a temporary, Assistant Clerk in Part A in Hartford before working as an associate at Montstream & May in Glastonbury. While there, I performed legal work in various areas of law related to personal injury and insurance defense, including motor vehicle accidents, premises liability, and food-born illnesses.

In 1999, I was hired by the Division of Criminal Justice as a prosecutor at the Office of the Chief State's Attorney. This position involved statewide travel in the prosecution of felonies and misdemeanors.

In 1999 and 2000, I sat second chair to sue -- Senior Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney Herbert E. Carlson in a Capital Felony trial. I was involved in the preparation and litigation of the myriad of pretrial motions that are part of such trials, as well as jury selection for the trial, itself, the eventual plea and sentencing of the defendant short of the verdict. During this time, I developed a greater appreciation of the awesome and difficult responsibility inherent in the privilege of representing the people in criminal prosecutions.

In 2000, I began work at the State's Attorney Office in Bristol. I was brought in to manage the enormous trial list that had accumulated over the several years that the court was without a full-time trial. In so doing, I acquired two equally valuable skills: how to try a case and how to value a case. I also learned that the temperament one brings to one's work is of great importance.

I have tried approximately 22 criminal jury trials to verdict, including charges of sexual assault in the first degree; burglary, first degree; assault, first degree; robbery, first degree; stalking, and crimes of bias and bigotry. Additionally, I've tried numerous misdemeanor and felony cases to the court, including sexual assault in the second degree.

In 2004, I sought to expand the depth and breadth of my legal knowledge with the Office of the Attorney General's Child Protection Unit where I litigate petitions brought to the Juvenile Court by the Deputy of Children and Families.

For nearly five years, I have been assigned to the Child Protection Session in Middletown which serves as a statewide Child Court accepting cases referred by local Juvenile Court Judges from across the state. The more complex, contested matters involve serious physical or sexual abuse of a child and the death of a -- a child or a sibling. Cases requiring immediate attention or involving significant expert testimony are referred to this special session in an effort to provide an expeditious resolution consistent with best interests of a child.

I have tried at least 60 matters to conclusion in trials to this court as an Assistant Attorney General. Although the focus of my work in Middletown is largely on trials, I've also represented the State at the appellate level and at the Superior Court level in appeals brought pursuant to the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act.

The Office of the Attorney General, as did the Division of Criminal Justice, supports my involvement in community service efforts, and in 2004 I was honored to be named to the Distinguished Volunteers Roster by the Connecticut Bar Association for work in Bridgeport and Hartford as a career day speaker and occasional commencement speaker in the public schools.

If honored with this opportunity, I will bring to the bench fair-mindedness, neutrality, and an equitable temperament as well as an ability to quickly spot and analyze complex legal issues, trial experience, an -- and an inquisitive legal mind, and strong research and writing skills.

It is my desire to continue to serve the people of the State of Connecticut in this new capacity, with integrity, diligence, fairness, and humility. And I am hopeful that the totality of my experience will be useful to the residents of this State if appointed to be a Judge of the Superior Court.

I appreciate your attention and welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have. Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much,

Mr. Oliver.

It's great to see someone so young before this Committee. I say that because if you -- assuming you are appointed by the General Assembly, probably have an opportunity to do more as a judge in terms of years of service than anybody else has had in quite some time, the potential of being a Judge of the Superior Court for about 32, 33 years, something like that. Is that something that you see as the totality of your future professional career, sitting on the bench?

VERNON OLIVER: I look forward if this court -- if this Committee honors me by appointing me to spending my career as a jurist. And my dedication would be at the Superior Court level for the entirety of my career unless and until someone deems it appropriate to consider appellate, the Appellate Court. Now I consider myself a -- and I look forward to a career at the trial level, under G.A. level. I know that there -- that is currently where there is a need, and I look forward to serving in that capacity.

SENATOR McDONALD: And you worked at the State's Attorney's Office for five years, approximately?

VERNON OLIVER: Yes, that's correct. A little over five years, Senator.

SENATOR McDONALD: And what was the motivation for you to switch from the State's Attorney's Office to the Attorney General's Office?

VERNON OLIVER: It was a career decision based on what -- what specifically was happening in Bristol. The trial judge had been removed, and in my estimation, there were limited opportunities to advance to Part A, either in Hartford or in Bridgeport -- or I'm sorry -- in New Britain, simply based on the ages of the Part A prosecutors who were there. And I -- and I wanted some different legal experience as well, different, at that point in time, from what I was getting at the G.A. And so it was my opinion that civil experience through the Office of the Attorney General would be beneficial to my pursuing a further career.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. So you were struck. You weren't going to have, really, many professional -- you wouldn't probably put it that way -- but you weren't going to have many professional opportunities for growth.

VERNON OLIVER: That's correct. And that, certainly, obviously is no reflection on -- of my time with the Division of Criminal Justice or upon the work that's done by the prosecutors there in Bristol or in New Britain and Hartford. But for me, and -- and it's been borne out -- there simply have not been opportunities that I would have been a -- a likely candidate for within the division.

SENATOR McDONALD: You know, there's a part of you that makes me think you're a politician too. You're too nice to say that you were stuck, but I appreciate -- I appreciate the answer.

The -- and -- and -- and in the State's Attorney's Office you tried, I think you said, 22 cases to trial, to a --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- jury verdict?

VERNON OLIVER: -- jury verdict. Yes, Senator.

SENATOR McDONALD: How many bench trials on top of that?

VERNON OLIVER: Separate from that, at some point there was a court trial blitz, starring

Judge Santos who was here, I would guess

30-some-odd, the majority drunk driving. There was a sexual assault second in there, some drug possession. So 20 or so, and that includes, also, for violation of probation hearings.

SENATOR McDONALD: And certainly with that number of cases under your belt, it's hard to generalize, but how long were these trials, for the most part?

VERNON OLIVER: The jury trials were obviously a day or two to pick the jury. And the felony trials, three, four, five, six days. The -- the court trials, a day. But the jury trials all involved a jury selection. And in addition to jury selection, the taking of evidence were at least -- I would say they were all more than one day, the -- the jury cases. Usually if a -- a defendant chooses to take his case to a trial by jury, he has witnesses, and he'd like a full exposition of the evidence as being given by those witnesses, so at least a couple days on the jury cases.

SENATOR McDONALD: And when you were a prosecutor, did you -- did you think that was a larger-than-normal number of jury cases to be tried to verdict?

VERNON OLIVER: I knew it was. I knew it. I knew it going in. I was in Hartford sitting second chair on the Capital Case, and my supervisor

-- my -- the prosecutor, Steve Paleski came to see me in Hartford as I was -- I think -- I believe we were in the summer picking that Capital jury, and he told me what I'd be getting myself into. There were 300-some-odd cases on the jury list. There hadn't been a jury trial in Bristol in a long time, and it would be my responsibility to manage that caseload and try those cases. He had been a trial prosecutor in Hartford in the '90s when the murder rate was -- was through the roof, and he had, frankly had enough of trying jury cases and he needed help in the G.A. by the other prosecutor there, so it would be my responsibility, of course with his guidance and under his tutelage, to the try those cases.

And during that time I found out, while I was in the middle of it and afterwards, that that's -- that's a lot of cases for one guy in such a short period of time, especially felonies and misdemeanors to verdict.

Bristol does keep a lot of their and did keep a lot of their more serious drug cases and more serious sexual assault cases, and all of their vehicular homicide cases. So I had exposure to also -- to a vary of charges that you don't usually get in a G.A.

SENATOR McDONALD: Well, (inaudible) I think it's great. I mean it's wonderful to have somebody, again, so young have that much trial experience under -- under your belt. And one of the things we've been talking about in this Committee is why so few cases actually are tried. And I dare say that there are prosecutors who have gone years without trying any cases, and you seem to bounce from one jury trial to the next, at least when you were in the State's Attorney's Office.

When you went to the Attorney General's Office, you seemed to have also pretty much kept that pace.


SENATOR McDONALD: You tried 60 cases to verdict?

VERNON OLIVER: To -- I believe to conclusion with written -- with written decisions in the case of neglect to termination of parental rights and rulings from the Bench if there are orders, temporary custody.


VERNON OLIVER: And that's an approximation. I frankly haven't --


VERNON OLIVER: Yes. Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. Thank you, very much. It's a pleasure to have you here. It's great to see somebody with that much trial experience, as I said. I mean, there are a lot of qualified candidates who come before us but very few who have had to be in the trenches fighting -- fighting those fights for so many years. So, thank you, very much.

Are there --

VERNON OLIVER: Thank you --

SENATOR McDONALD: -- any questions?

VERNON OLIVER: -- Senator.

SENATOR McDONALD: Representative O'Neill.

REP. O'NEILL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And I'll -- I'll sort of paraphrase the Chairman about seeing someone so young being appointed to the bench; it makes me feel kind of old at this stage in my life.

I did have a couple of questions or a question, really, about -- on your statement you say, I also -- about your time in Bristol -- “I also learned that the temperament one brings to one's work is of great importance.” And I was wondering, was there some specific situation or what, what's the basis of making -- what is it you learned or what circumstances -- caused you to learn something like that?

VERNON OLIVER: Well, when -- as a new prosecutor, you're taught among other things that, you know, prosecutors -- and I'll quote somebody

-- prosecutors eat red meat; they have to be tough. So certainly there was no incident involving me where I was -- when I was deemed to be intemperate, but I learned that in dealing with dozens of pro se litigants, you know, these are folks; these are people.

And the way I learned, by way of example, how to treat people and the right way to treat people who are defendants, day one, my supervisor tells me that 98 percent of these people will never be here again. It's your responsibility to separate the people who all -- who made a mistake, who ended up on the wrong side of the law for -- for minor -- for minor issues and who will never come back again, who rely on you to be fair and impartial and just with them from the serious cases, the serious felons, the real bad guys who it's our responsibility to focus on, illustrated by, apparently, I was picking a jury on a case. And -- and -- and the fella who was a voir dire person indicates that he knows me, and I had no idea where he knew me from. And he knew me coming to Bristol and dealing with a motor vehicle case. And my first response always, no matter how you treat people was uh-oh. And -- but instead, the judge asked him how were -- how were you treated? I was treated (inaudible) -- I was treated quite fairly. He dealt with me reasonably and responsibly. The disposition, I thought, was fair to me. And he was excused by the other side, frankly, because he had a favorable opinion.

And the people who come before you in a criminal court are your jurors or they're the relatives of your jurors; they're the mothers and fathers of your jurors, but they're also the mothers and fathers of the criminal defendants. So, if for no other reason, and for the selfish reason of prevailing at trial, you treat people the right way, if you weren't taught any better growing up, which I was. So it -- it's a -- it's just a general scheme of how I was -- I was trained and the -- and the right way to interact with the public.

REP. O'NEILL: Okay. Is there -- I mean, you look very impressive, you know, and obviously all these trials, and it's a lot more than, I think, most of the people. In fact, if I went through and tallied it up, you probably have done more trials than everybody else that's coming before us, and certainly within the last few years. I'm wondering if there's anything that you, yourself, would see as a -- an area where you need to develop more or need to work on? Is there anything in your -- you know, done -- done all these different things; you've been -- and it's -- there's nothing wrong with this -- but you've been building a résumé. You've been building a career that is very impressive. I'm just wondering, is there anything that you feel that you need to do more work on?

VERNON OLIVER: In the last year or so, I had -- had made an effort to expand my depth of knowledge in the appellate level, and -- and usually in the Child Protection, you keep your own appeals. And I simply put it before you, is in three-and-a-half years, hadn't had any. Hadn't had any cases go up to the appellate level that made it past a motion to dismiss. So my -- my appellate experience is one thing I can point to where I'd like to have experience. And obviously I do -- did continue to monitor and did recently have a case favorably decided for the Department at the appellate level, but that was only -- that was only one. However, in preparation for that, for writing that brief and arguing before the Appellate Court, it gave me further insight into how important it is to think with an eye towards appeal when you're presenting a case at the trial level.

REP. O'NEILL: I don't know if the question was asked by the Chairman but it's our standard question: Is there anything that you can think of that if it were to be splashed on the front pages of New York Times or The Hartford Courant would be terribly embarrassing to you or to us or the Governor?

VERNON OLIVER: There is not, Representative.

REP. O'NEILL: Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Representative Green.

REP. GREEN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good afternoon, Mr. Oliver.

VERNON OLIVER: Afternoon, Representative Green.

REP. GREEN: Mr. Oliver, I have a line of questioning that's similar to, I think, what we ask the most of the candidates. In your work in the courts, have you ever noticed any characteristics of a sitting judge that would have you to wonder about their demeanor or their knowledge of the law; have you ever wondered about that?

VERNON OLIVER: Knowledge of the law, no. And demeanor, not to the extent that it caused me concern regarding how they would dispose of a case, taking into account the different personalities of every judge on the bench.

REP. GREEN: Okay. If you were a sitting judge, tell me a little bit about your personality that would sort of indicate to me how you might handle or would you be willing to accept criticisms or feedback from staff, attorneys, or -- or even defendants?

VERNON OLIVER: I've always been open to improving myself, and -- and that's -- that personally and professionally, and I seek feedback. I seek feed -- feedback from individuals who are in court, usually, when appropriate, after the case is over, from the trial -- trial judge, from the client who may be with me. I keep feedback, and to the extent I'm supervised or other attorneys are present in the court. I also am -- am sensitive to criticism and when given, I -- I -- I take it and I assimilate it if I -- if I or -- or someone else thinks it's a legitimate criticism. 'm certainly not the one not -- not the objective person to say, No, that's not legitimate. I take it and I analyze it, and if necessary, I apply it.

REP. GREEN: You seem to have moved fairly quickly in some areas, and I don't know the process or the law enough to know if this was too soon or not, but in 2000, it is -- it appears three years after you receive your -- you passed the Bar, became an attorney, you were with the Division of Criminal Justice and working in Bristol Court?

VERNON OLIVER: Three years? That's correct, Representative.

REP. GREEN: Okay. And that you were asked to be responsible for managing the (inaudible). Explain to me exactly what they were asking you to do and whether or not you felt comfortable after three years of just getting your Bar, how did you feel about that?

VERNON OLIVER: I certainly looked forward to the opportunity to try cases. I did not render the ultimate decision on serious felony cases, and there was the buffer of the pre -- the pretrial, what they call a “pretrial blitz,” where I believe it was Judge Wallenburg, then Judge Espinosa, and later on, I forget, another judge came down for a series of judicial pretrials where offers were made by one side or the other and accepted. And if -- and if necessary, the cases went to plea. The majority of the 300 cases, obviously, were disposed of, as most cases are, by way of plea agreement.

When there were cases, I would review the offers made by the State with my supervisor, and we would -- we would take them to the judge. I had done judicial pretrials prior to New Britain, and as part of the regular day-to-day docket of the G.A. So in terms of a lot of responsibility for a relatively new attorney and prosecutor, absolutely, I felt I was ready and I was not so arrogant as to think that I was autonomous and able to make the more -- most important decisions short of conference with -- with a -- my supervisor who, again, was an experienced Part A trial prosecutor.

REP. GREEN: What does it mean to be second chair?

VERNON OLIVER: A second chair? It could mean you sit there and do absolutely nothing and hold the briefcase, but in my case, the way it worked at the Chief State's Attorney Office was when I arrived to the Chief State's Attorney's Office, there was a case, and my supervisor at the time, I was to assist her in the -- in the -- the trial preparation of -- and matters, and, really, it was to be a learning experience. She was subsequently nominated and later appointed to be a judge. And so -- and so for a period of time at the Chief State's Attorney's Office there was no first chair. The case was picked up by the Hartford State's Attorney's Office where the crime was alleged to -- well, was not alleged -- the crime occurred. And I was -- having knowledge of the file -- it had been my job to become familiar with the file and conversant in it -- to aid this first-chair prosecutor in getting up to speed. And when he did, he asked me to stay around and help make -- and I -- I helped him write and did write a significant portion of and present evidence in the motion to suppress.

I also aided him and actually did examine a venire person with -- and -- and -- and select jurors. I actually did direct examination of state's witnesses in the -- in the Capital Case in chief. So by way of being a second chair, I was an active second chair who actually did participate and make contributions in every phase of the -- the Capital litigation. I met with him and with witnesses from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the victim's family, other state witnesses, and -- and with the Connecticut State Police Forensic Science Laboratory in the interpretation of the evidence, which included hair. And I learned about examination of hair. I learned about DNA. I learned about tool marks; so I was present and gave up, you know, a year and a half or so in -- in the presentation of evidence before an eventual plea attempt.

REP. GREEN: Thanks for your answer.

Plea bargaining, what's your thoughts on plea bargaining? Do you feel it's overused; do you feel like it's a fair system? What do you think the purpose of plea bargaining should be or it is, or maybe do you have any difference in terms of what you think it should be?

VERNON OLIVER: Ideally, when all sides are represented by competent and zealous counsel, the plea bargaining is a result of a realization that there is room for compromise and that a trial would not be beneficial to one side or the other. And so you seek to mitigate the damage by entering a plea one way or the other. I don't -- I would not care to guess empirically as if everyone decided to have their trial whether or not the system would be able to handle it. But separate from that, as a prosecutor, if the defendant is willing to enter a plea, I -- I -- I review the facts of the case, and where there are victims, I make victim input and ask yourself, Well, what is -- what's the value of this case? What's the purpose of the case? What is the right outcome? Do I want this person on probation so that they can be involved in substance abuse treatment? Do I want restitution for the victim? If I want a trial, am I likely to prevail on the merits of the case, and if -- if I do not and if I do believe that the person is guilty of the crime, do I then -- does the victim then lose any compensation to which they may be entitled because they -- they are a victim? So there certainly is a place for plea bargaining in a criminal and -- and civil realm.

I know that trials -- maybe still -- were at some period, a point in time, disappearing, so -- and for some cases, trialable cases, a trial on the merits to verdict is the only just thing. I think.

REP. GREEN: Do -- do you think plea bargaining is overused?

VERNON OLIVER: I don't think I overused it, Representative.

REP. GREEN: Pardon me?

VERNON OLIVER: I'm sorry. I -- I don't believe I overused it during my time there. Not having been involved in the process for the last five years, I'm not able to say currently, but I certainly don't think I overused it. There are cases where you -- that result in a plea bargain where the defendant comes back again. I don't know if you then say, Well, I shouldn't have plea bargained the case, I think you make -- you do as fair a job as you can and make as much of an informed decision as you can at the time, with the information given in compliance with the law.

REP. GREEN: In the criminal cases, what do you think the percentage of plea bargaining? If I were to look at criminal cases and try to figure out how many were plea bargained before trial and how many went to trial, what percentage of plea bargaining do you think happened?

VERNON OLIVER: I'd hate to guess but my guess would be 95 percent, 98 percent.

REP. GREEN: Um-hum.

VERNON OLIVER: I know -- I know it's very rare that there is a trial and, frankly, probably even more rare that there's a trial to verdict. For the 22 cases I tried, I don't know how many pled out after that first juror was chosen or when the jury panel comes there, to some degree. Most of the cases that go toward trial settle when the jury panel is in the other room and both sides know they're going to get your trial. And that goes for the prosecutors too.

REP. GREEN: I tend to think that a plea bargain is more convenience for the court system than it is to sometimes mitigate justice, and it concerns me with the process of plea bargaining.

Let me ask you about the juveniles, 16 and

17-year-old. Have you had any thought on whether or not 16 or 17-year-olds should be treated as adults or in a Juvenile Court; in adult court or Juvenile Court?

VERNON OLIVER: I really haven't given it -- I really had not given it much thought as a prosecutor. Rarely had cases come from the delinquency side up to the G.A. If this Committee determines that the services available to youthful offenders who are essentially in the adult court are insufficient to meet their needs and that more services are available -- and I don't have much experience in the delinquency side at all, the Attorney General's Office -- but -- but the services that are available on the delinquency side in Juvenile Court are more appropriate in -- in dealing with the issues these -- these young folks face and including reducing -- reducing recidivism and helping them rehabilitate, I have no problem with whatever law this Committee passes and obviously would apply it fairly and impartially.

REP. GREEN: Can you tell me a little bit then, after you left the -- it seems like the Criminal Division you went to the State's Attorney's Office and you spent a number of years in the child's Protection Unit, and it sound like in a case -- a court in Middletown that dealt with some serious cases. Can you explain to me a little bit about the type of cases? And, again, with some relatively few years at the State's Attorney's Office, it seemed like an awful responsibility for a new attorney. And were you handling those kind of cases by yourself or was there a team of attorneys?

VERNON OLIVER: When I -- and with the Office of the Attorney General, Representative, I was initially signed -- assigned to the Hartford Regional Court to familiarize myself with the juvenile law and the -- the differences in the trial process between juvenile and criminal and the -- the different functions that the Attorney General serves as opposed to being the state prosecutor.

My first several trials were supervised by my supervisor in Hartford, and then after a number of months supervised and discussed at every step along the way with my supervisor at the Child Protection Session in Hartford. Factually, the cases are sent to the Child Protection Session for trial, and unfortunately the facts of a -- of a significant number of those cases in Middletown are similar to what I dealt with as a prosecutor, involving sexual assault and physical abuse of the child or a sibling of a child, subject to a petition. So I was prepared for the significance of the cases that I tried as an Assistant Attorney General, but in my time as prosecutor.

REP. GREEN: Racial disparities in the -- in the criminal justice system, do you believe it's there, and do you believe it's there or not there?

VERNON OLIVER: It's there. I had read -- I've read -- I read, when the -- when the study in came out in 2003, 2004. I was a prosecutor; I read it then. When I was preparing for my interview with the Judicial Selection Commission, I read the study again in its entirety, then. And I've reviewed the executive summary in the last several days, and it says the same thing; it's there. That's not news. That's the reasons why the disparity exists and what the -- and the Commission report suggests is that the exercise of discretion, one way or the other, by individuals within the system at various points in the process, pretrial, bail, trial, sentencing, violation of probation, that's something to be addressed. But it's certainly beyond the (inaudible) that disparity exists; the numbers are inarguable.

REP. GREEN: And when you were a prosecutor and now as an Assistant Attorney General, did you ever have conversations with your superiors or the supervisors to express some discomfort with the -- some of the information in that report, and did you at any time offer some suggestions as to how to address some of the disparities, if you felt uncomfortable with some of the information that you saw in the report?

VERNON OLIVER: I -- I didn't feel uncomfortable at the end of -- well, I didn't feel uncomfortable discussing the information in that report. I discussed -- we discussed -- I discussed the report generally. Let's see, I think when the report came out, I may have just made my transition to the Attorney General's Office. I left in May of two thousand -- May or June of 2004. And I recall -- but there had been discussions when I was a prosecutor. There had been concern from the Office of the Public Defender in Bristol that police were using -- I think the issue at the time, and I think this Committee has subsequently dealt with it by way of legislation or case law has -- that police were using the -- the air freshener trees and anything else, the dice hanging from your rearview mirror as a basis for a pretextural stop, a pretextural stop that unfairly targeted minorities. So our office -- and we talked about what we were going to do about it and decide whether that's true or not.

We flagged every case where someone, as a factual basis, was pulled over for something hanging from their rearview mirror, and we, on our own, tallied the numbers. And as if per

-- and the numbers did not bear up. The police were doing it by -- by way of -- for -- for race, based on the ethnicity or race of the driver. There may have been -- and the law is clear on the basis of pretextural stops that are actually violations of the law as a basis for seeking further information from the driver. But that's one example where our office, on our own -- we certainly don't need permission to address a concern of the defense blogs, and we did that.

REP. GREEN: All right. Thank you.

VERNON OLIVER: Thank you, Representative.

REP. GREEN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SENATOR McDONALD: Representative Hewett.

REP. HEWETT: Good morning, Mr. Oliver.

VERNON OLIVER: Good morning -- well, (inaudible) it's afternoon. Good afternoon --

REP. HEWETT: Oh, yeah.

VERNON OLIVER: -- Representative.

REP. HEWETT: You get kind of lost up here. First of all, I wanted to congratulate you on your nomination.

VERNON OLIVER: Thank you, Representative.

REP. HEWETT: I can totally understand, after you appeared before us, that I could see how you've went so far so quick; 37 years old. Wow; it's amazing --

VERNON OLIVER: Thank you, Representative.

REP. HEWETT: -- and all the experience that you have so far.

Just a couple of quick questions: If nominated to the bench, you will now be in a situation where I think it's 19,700 people are in the prison system in the State of Connecticut, and 73 or 72 percent of them being minorities. And so you know by those numbers that you will have quite a few minorities appearing before you. And a lot of people would say because you are African American yourself, that you would probably be more lenient on African Americans coming before you as you sit on the bench. And I just want to hear what your comments on that is.

VERNON OLIVER: It's -- it's -- it's not something I -- I'm unfamiliar with, that argument. And I guess it's if you're looking to justify what your position is, you'll look for -- to use that argument to -- to -- as a basis. I'm -- I'm -- I'm certain that there's no empirical data to back up any allegation that my -- a prosecutor of color is more lenient on certain defendants of color. I can only control what I do, and I can only have input in what my fellow prosecutors do or did. And I did not and I took great pains, sometimes to the -- the -- the -- the resentment of some of the guys who came before me, not to give breaks on the basis of color.

Your break is based on the guy who sits in front of me. I have your motor vehicle history. I have your criminal history; I read the police report. Did you do this? What do you want to do about it? Can you make it right? Okay. So my goal at the end of the day was for every pro se -- and the bulk -- the bulk of the people who came in the conference room to discuss their case with me was pro se -- was to be sure, myself, and for them to feel that they were treated fairly. Whether they like the result is different than whether they were treated fairly. And that's all I can do.

That's all any of us can do is to demonstrate over time that we are being fair, we're -- we're being -- that we're being fair in our own -- in our own practice and the way we apply the law. That's -- those are the qualities, and I'll be sensitive to that. Those are the qualities that I -- I will bring to the bench if this Committee sees fit to confirm me.

REP. HEWETT: Of course, one of the things that I have vowed to do since I've become a member of the General Assembly is, we have a lot of disparities in the system, and I think one of my jobs is to try to get rid of those disparities. Because I don't want to get into what your decision is, I want to get into giving you the tools that you need to make a decision, and if getting rid of those disparities before it gets to you and then you'll have something different to rule upon.

I remember about ten years ago, I was going to my grandfather's funeral in North Carolina, me and my brother-in-law, and we got stopped by the traffic stop in North Virginia. You know, Virginia is very tough on traffic. And a state trooper gets out of his car, tall, African American; you know, they got those big-rim hats on, look good in your uniforms. And I remember my brother-in-law saying to me, Oh, yeah, this is a brother, man, he's going to give us a break. Well, we got a $250 ticket. Okay? You know why we got a $250 ticket? Because we were speeding. Okay. I'm glad to hear you say that.

And I just -- one more question that I want to ask you: How do you feel about the three strikes? You know, we've been asked up here to pass a lot of three-strikes legislation, and we haven't got there yet but we've almost. But what do you -- what do you feel about the three-strikes legislation?

VERNON OLIVER: Without commenting directly on pending legislation or legislation that may come pending, I think it's appropriate to enact legislation that is firm, fair, and actually solves the problem that it's meant to address while balancing a judicial discretion. I don't believe we can have one-size-fits-all sentencing; you just can't have it. But to the extent that there is a general deterrent effect from somebody knowing if I do X, Y, and Z, I've got one more time and then I'm going away if I'm caught -- so to the extent there is -- there -- there is a general deterrence by this or a specific deterrence for any particular defendant, it's helpful.

REP. HEWETT: Thank you.

VERNON OLIVER: Thank you, Representative.

SENATOR McDONALD: Are there other questions?

Representative Hamzy.

REP. HAMZY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And, Vernon, I want to congratulate you on your appointment. I've had occasion to appear before you when you were in Bristol as a prosecutor and found you to be fair and as well as thorough, and I'm sure you will carry the same traits that you exhibited as a prosecutor in Bristol to the -- to the bench as a Superior Court Judge.

VERNON OLIVER: Thank you, Representative.

REP. HAMZY: Just to follow up on a question by Representative Hewett, while you were serving as a prosecutor, you had occasion to deal with people from all different races, creeds, nationalities, what have you. In my observation of the way you handled yourself, it didn't seem that you cared one way or another, if I can be so -- if I can be as objective as that. But is that the approach that you took is to deal with the person that was before you on a case-by-case basis, based on the facts that were presented to you?

VERNON OLIVER: As persons of color, that's what we ask others to do; I think I owe it to the people I've -- I've taken this -- the oath to uphold the state constitution. I owe it to the people. In that case, it was the people of Terryville and Plainville and Southington to do the same thing. That's what I did in Hartford. That's what I did in New Britain. I would be a hypocrite if I did anything else.

REP. HAMZY: Thank you. And, like I said, that was my observation in the -- in the times that I appeared before you. And I just want to wish you the best of luck in your new position.

VERNON OLIVER: Thank you, very much, Representative.

SENATOR McDONALD: Are there any other questions from members of the Committee?

Representative Clemons.

REP. CLEMONS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good afternoon, Mr. Oliver.

VERNON OLIVER: Afternoon, Representative.

REP. CLEMONS: I just want to say congratulations.

VERNON OLIVER: Thank you, very much.

REP. CLEMONS: And just -- I'm looking through your Judiciary Committee Questionnaire, and it says you were born in Bridgeport. And that's where I'm from. I'm just curious, (inaudible) north end?


REP. CLEMONS: That's where I'm from. I just wanted to ask where in the north end; I was curious.

VERNON OLIVER: I was born and spent the first

18 years of my life and some summers after that in Beardsley Terrace.

REP. CLEMONS: Well, you know, that's where I grew up at, Beardsley Terrace. I was -- I was -- I'm just -- just a few years older, but, you know, sitting here and listening to my colleagues and you talk, and then I'm looking here. I'm saying, You know what, I need to ask him that. You know, you -- I think you, not only you make me proud but you, I know your family. I know the people of the State of Connecticut will be proud to know that we have a gentleman of your -- of your character, you know, looks like going to sit on the bench. And I just wanted to say that, and for some reason I had a feeling when I said north end, I just wanted to ask you that. And knowing -- knowing what we had to deal with in growing up in Beardsley Terrace and for you to ascend to this position, again, it's, you know, it's a testament to, I guess and you know, family and -- and to your -- to your character. And I just wanted to say that.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And --

VERNON OLIVER: Thank you --

REP. CLEMONS: -- good luck.

VERNON OLIVER: -- very much.

REP. CLEMONS: Good luck to you.

VERNON OLIVER: Thank you, Representative.

SENATOR McDONALD: Are there any other questions for Mr. Oliver?

Representative Green, for the second time.

REP. GREEN: For the second time, thank you,

Mr. Chair. Just two, really quick questions.


REP. GREEN: When did you apply to the Judicial Selection Committee for appointment?

VERNON OLIVER: I applied in May of last year. I had intended to apply in 2007, but my baby boy was born and I didn't get much sleep for a few months. So I applied in May, I believe the first week of May 2008.

REP. GREEN: Okay. By any chance were you encouraged to apply or -- by anybody from the Executive Branch?

VERNON OLIVER: I was not. I had -- my intention, as I said, was to apply in 2007, and so I had conversations with other judges, who I knew, about how to go about it. I will say, in 2007, the application was mailed to me and it was -- it was mailed to me and it weighed a few pounds. And it had the type on it, and -- and I didn't know where I'd even find a typewriter.

But shortly thereafter, in 2008, I believe the Governor's Office put the form on-line and also gave some information that theretofore had been a mystery; that is, what the Judicial Selection Commission is, who's on it, and what the process is. Essentially, I had heard before, just from stories. And the -- the web site and -- and -- and I read the statutes, and it demystified the process for me. So I was not encouraged by -- I was not encouraged by anyone politically or anyone on the Executive Branch, but putting the application and the information on-line certainly made it a more open process for me.

REP. GREEN: Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

VERNON OLIVER: Thank you, Representative.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you. And, actually, just for the record, because somebody does type all of this up --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- all of that was because we pushed for it, Judicial Selection. Judicial Selection didn't have it on their web site, in fact, that they didn't even have a web site. And so one of the ways that we wanted to demystify the manner in which individuals could apply to be judges was to get some basic information out there and let people know that the Judicial Selection Commission even existed. But I appreciate your comments, and I'm -- I'm -- I'm -- I don't know where I would find a typewriter either, if it wasn't on my --

VERNON OLIVER: Thank you, Senator.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much,

Mr. Oliver. I wish you all the best.

VERNON OLIVER: Thank you, very much.

SENATOR McDONALD: Next is Sheila A. Ozalis of Newtown, and if I mispronounced your name, I apologize.

SHEILA OZALIS: (Inaudible.)

SENATOR McDONALD: Please raise your right hand. Do you swear that the testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?


SENATOR McDONALD: Please have a seat. Welcome. And we'd be happy to have any opening statement you prepared.

SHEILA OZALIS: Good afternoon, Senator McDonald, Representative Lawlor, and members of the Judiciary Committee.

My name is Sheila Ozalis and it's a pleasure to appear before you. I'm both honored and grateful to be considered for a position on the Connecticut Superior Court. I want to thank Governor Rell for putting my name before you. I also want to thank the Committee for its time and effort in performing this important task.

I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1962. I was raced in southern New Jersey, in the Town of Cinnaminson. One of the biggest influences in my life was my mother, who in her short life, taught me many valuable lessons. My mother was raised in London, England during World War II. Due to the death of her father, she had to leave school at the age of 12 to get a job as a sewing machinist to help support her family. She came to the United States in 1949 and met and married my father. Notwithstanding the numerous hardships my mother had to endure, including life during the London Blitz, she remained optimistic in the beauty of life and that in every hardship there's an opportunity for something good to come out of it. She showed me the importance of standing up to injustice and instilled in me the belief that no dream is unattainable.

I graduated from high school in 1980 and was the first one in my family to attend college

-- to graduate from college. My father worked as a shoe salesman, and since my family did not have the financial resources to send me to college, I worked a number of jobs and used student loans to finance college and law school.

I attended Drew University and graduated with a degree in chemistry in 1984. During my time at Drew University and after graduation, I worked as a research scientist for Ashland and Allied Chemical Companies. While I enjoyed my work there, it only reenforced my desire to become a lawyer and use my chemical background in that capacity.

I graduated from Pace University School of Law in 1987 and was a member of the Law Review. Upon graduating from law school, I joined the firm of Kenyon & Kenyon, a patent, trademark, and copyright firm in New York City. While I enjoyed the patent and trademark litigation work I did at Kenyon, I joined the firm of Winthrop, Stimson, Putnam & Roberts, seeking work in a more diversified practice area. I worked in the Stamford, Connecticut office of Winthrop until 1997, litigating both large complex litigation matters and small foreclosure matters for local, Connecticut banks. I litigated commercial -- commercial matters, securities, tort, contract, insurance, environmental, intellectual property, bankruptcy, and foreclosure matters. I tried a number of cases at Winthrop and was given lead and joint trial roles in major trials.

In 1997, I formed my own firm with my husband. My goal in opening my own firm was to be able to litigate matters that interested me while creating a schedule to complement my family life. My litigation practice over the last

12 years has encompassed both large complex, and small litigations in areas ranging from intellectual property, tort, commercial, corporate, employment, foreclosure, personal injury matters. I've represented large,

mid-size, and small corporations and individuals and also handle a number of pro bono civil and foreclosure matters.

In addition to trying cases, I've also had the opportunity to argue before the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals and Connecticut Appellate Court, and one of my matters has been before the United States Supreme Court. I am grateful to have had unique, challenging cases throughout my entire career that pushed me to be a better lawyer. One of the things I look forward to, if I -- if I am given the opportunity to be a judge is the challenge of working in and learning different areas of the law. I enjoyed that challenge throughout my entire career.

Personally, I've been married to my husband Mark for almost 22 years. We met at Pace Law School, 24 years ago. We have two children, Sheila, 14, and Alex, 12. We have lived in Newtown since 2004 and prior to that lived in Easton for 10 years. I've coached girls' softball teams in both towns, was President of the Easton Softball League and the Newtown Babe Ruth Softball Fall League.

I've served on a number of private school boards and asked to take a leadership role in such boards. I was asked by the Town of Easton to be part of a Building Committee that reviewed necessary repairs and renovations to a local elementary school after concerns were raised by faculty regarding mold issues in the school. At the first meeting, I was voted

co-Chairman of the Committee. During the course of our work, my Committee also uncovered that the head of a mold-remediation company that had been brought in by the school to treat mold had used fabricated test data in the test reports submitted and that the chemical he claimed to have used in treatment was not, in fact, used. We contacted federal authorities and our investigation and findings led federal authorities to search his place of business. A federal indictment and conviction followed.

When I finished the first 20 years of career, I looked back on the work I had done and the firms I had worked with. I was happy with what I had accomplished and grateful for the training received. In looking at the next

20 years of my career, I decided that I would regret it if I do not devote the next phase of my career to public service.

What service means to me is to be a servant not to be served. If I am a judge, I hope to serve the people of Connecticut in an intelligent, fair, patient, compassionate, and humble manner.

We currently live in times that try men's souls. More than ever, I believe it's important for people who come before our judiciary on any matter to be able to walk away from that proceeding feeling that the judge involved patiently listened to what they had to say, understood their concerns, fears, and hopes, was compassionate about the trials they were going through, and treated them with respect. I feel this is especially so in the increasing number of pro se cases that are coming into the court system. If I am a judge, I will endeavor to do all of these things to the best of my ability.

I appreciate your attention and welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have for me. Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much, and congratulations on your nomination.

I have just a couple of questions. Since you left Winthrop, Stimson and formed your law firm with your husband, which is what,

12 years, 11, 12 years ago, something like that?


SENATOR McDONALD: Have you practiced full time?


SENATOR McDONALD: And I -- I ask that because I guess I was a little confused by -- well, let me say full time in litigation?

SHEILA OZALIS: Fifty, 60 hours a week.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. And I -- but were you doing corporate work, real estate work or it's all --

SHEILA OZALIS: Litigation.

SENATOR McDONALD: All litigation?

SHEILA OZALIS: All litigation.

SENATOR McDONALD: All litigation, okay. And your breakout was roughly 50/50 between State and Federal Court?

SHEILA OZALIS: Yes, it was.

SENATOR McDONALD: And how many -- you've only -- you've had one case that was tried to conclusion in the last five years?


SENATOR McDONALD: Is that right?


SENATOR McDONALD: Was that -- is that a jury case or it was like a bench trial?

SHEILA OZALIS: That was a bench trial. It was set to be a jury case. The day the jury was to be picked, the judge who was handling the settlement in the matter suggested due to the technical issues involved in the case that it might be better to be a bench trial. All the parties conferred and decided it would be better to go to a bench trial at that point in time and agreed.

SENATOR McDONALD: And looking at the representative cases that you have provided us, most of them, I think it's fair to say, were while you were at Winthrop, Stimson; is that right?

SHEILA OZALIS: No, that's not accurate.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. Well, my question was: It sounds like a lot of your prior experience was on patent infringement, and you mentioned your experience previously in New York City with a patent litigation. Were you still doing patent litigation in your last 12 years?

SHEILA OZALIS: I certainly have. I've represented Pactiv Corporation in the litigation that, in fact -- I represented two, separate corporations, Berman and Pactiv Corporation. One was the case that went before the United States Supreme Court, and it was argued in front of the United States Federal Circuit. And then a petition was filed in front of the United States Supreme Court. And then there was a subsequent case with Pactiv Corporation, a patent case in which we were in the Federal Court in Upstate New York. And then we were before the Federal Circuit again.


SHEILA OZALIS: That is -- was -- I would say

20 percent of my practice during the 12 years was intellectual property. The remaining portions of it related to employment law, personal injury, commercial, corporate, whatever came up. And, as I have frequently said, whatever interested me, what came in the door that I thought would be challenging and interesting to do, since I was going to be committing to do that litigation for three or four years, typically.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. Is there any area of the law that you think would be exceedingly challenging for you to become involved with that you haven't had previous experience with?

SHEILA OZALIS: I don't, for this reason: I've come from a chemistry background where I graduated with a degree in chemistry. I then went to law school and was able to successfully do well in law school and be a member of Law Review. I then went to a very fine intellectual property firm, did well there in the (inaudible) Kenyon & Kenyon. I then went to a major New York City firm to do a diversified litigation practice, and, again, did -- was successful in making the transition from all intellectual property litigation to a diversified commercial and corporate litigation and, again, foreclosure work as it came up with our clients. So I've been able to do that transition throughout my career.

I continued transitioning when I formed by own firm into labor and employment law and to other areas that, again, interested me. So I feel that I've had a good ability to be able to transition. I like the challenge of learning new things and getting into what the procedures and the rules are. And that's something that's been enjoyable for me my entire career is going from one thing to the other.

What I also like is the fact that the different facets of the law that I have been involved in, including my chemical background, come up in unexpected ways and are of assistance in them; you know, for example, dealing with experts in a personal injury case and dealing with the science issues. The -- unexpectedly, the science background can be very helpful.

SENATOR McDONALD: And when you left Winthrop, Stimson, were you partners, counsel, associate; I mean, what was your status when you left them?

SHEILA OZALIS: I was an associate at that point.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. So when -- the cases that you have listed here, were you primarily responsible for them when you were at Winthrop?

SHEILA OZALIS: It depends on the case involved. If we were to go down the list, I could tell you what I was primary involved with and what I was not. The Dow versus AVI case, I was primarily involved with at Winthrop, and that is a client I took with me to my own firm when I left.

SENATOR McDONALD: And have you ever done, in your last 12 years, have you ever done any criminal work?

SHEILA OZALIS: I have not. Well, I have done a pro bono criminal matter (inaudible) for someone (inaudible). But I have not.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. Now you've heard some of the prior questions about racial disparities that exist in the criminal justice system. Have you done anything in your professional career or in preparation for today's testimony to become more familiar with the -- with the situation in our criminal justice system --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- if you haven't had that background or experience?

SHEILA OZALIS: Well, I have read the report on the minority disparity with respect to the prisoners that are in prison. I have taken the time to think about the report and what that means with respect to sentencing and how -- and the people who might come before me and what my thoughts might be on that.

SENATOR McDONALD: What are your thoughts on that?

SHEILA OZALIS: My thought is as follows: My goal for anyone that comes in front of me is to treat them fairly and for them to believe and know that when they come in front of me that they will be treated fairly. However, in seeing the report, I think it's going to be a constant check on myself to ensure that I am not doing anything that's inappropriate; that I'm checking myself; that I am treating the totality of the circumstances, the facts that are in front of me, the charges that have been brought, the prior history of this person, and treating that person as an individual, and doing it, a constant check to -- as someone observed here, there might be an inadvertent move. And so I think that for me, myself, personally, that will be something every case, just mental -- mental check; this is the totality. This is what I believe is the right result. This is based on the facts and circumstances, and a mental check, make sure there's nothing else that could possibly come into play.

SENATOR McDONALD: Looking through your material here, I, you know, I noted you had at least one racial discrimination case; is that right?

SHEILA OZALIS: Yes, it is.

SENATOR McDONALD: Just -- you may not have selected it, but have you -- have you represented clients in other race discrimination cases?

SHEILA OZALIS: No, that was my first.

SENATOR McDONALD: And other than reading the report, have you talked to anybody in the criminal justice arena to learn more about the racial disparity issues that are in place in the state?

SHEILA OZALIS: I haven't, at this time. But that's certainly something that if I am fortunate enough to be appointed a judge, I would do an in-depth discussion with my brethren and other people to get their feelings and what they're seeing is coming in front of them.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. What -- what was -- what's the volume of your current litigation caseload now? How many cases, active files are you -- are you managing?

SHEILA OZALIS: Well, right now I've had to make --


SHEILA OZALIS: -- the transition.

SENATOR McDONALD: Well, let's say go -- hit the rewind button three or four months.

SHEILA OZALIS: About six cases.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. So one -- because one of the things I wanted to get a sense from you about is how you would deal with the volume of cases and then how you might handle a courtroom if you have a prosecutor who wheels in the files in cartons because there are so many that need to be processed in any given day. How are you going to -- what -- what -- what skills or experience can you bring to a situation that has that sort of incredible volume associated with it?

SHEILA OZALIS: Well, I think the skills, primary skill I have in that is organization. One, I'm thorough. One, I'm a quick study, that I can review something, understand it and get a hold of what the issues are. So I've been able to do that throughout my career. In very complex and large matters I've really had to do that and keep it in mind.

One of the things that I would want to be careful of in the scenario that you have portrayed is not to go through things too quickly; make sure that the file gets the time that it deserves; make sure that I understand the file; make sure that the parties are getting the -- the judicial --

SENATOR McDONALD: Well, let me -- let me ask you, I -- because this is a quandary that I know every judge faces --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- to do what's right for the litigants, for the administration of justice, and to deal with the crushing volume of cases that need to be moved. And there are those two competing pressures and obligations. How do you -- how would you approach reconciling those somewhat disparate aspects of the -- of the court system?

SHEILA OZALIS: Well, I would put what's doing right above what's doing it quickly and try to deal with the files in the -- in the manner in which I thought those files should be disposed of. You know, if that file needed 20 minutes of time or half-an-hour of time, then that file should get half-an-hour of time. And I think that's what parties who come before the judiciary are expecting, that they're expecting to be heard when they have their issues to be addressed. They're expecting the judge to pay attention to the papers that are filed and to read them. And that is their hope, that if the judge reads the papers and the judge hears them, that the right outcome will happen.

SENATOR McDONALD: And are -- there is probably, well, probably multiple versions of the way judges approach this stuff, but at least in my experience, there are two types of judges: One who comes out on the bench and has read every document that is going to be argued that day in court and has been prepared, and there are judges who, for any number of reasons, haven't had that opportunity and come out with not necessarily any prior review of the files and has to learn the cases on the fly. What's your -- where do you fall in that; what would you be more inclined to be, the person who came out prepared or the one who has to do it on the fly and become educated after the fact?

SHEILA OZALIS: I would be the one who is prepared, no matter of how much time it took me to do that, even though, again, the people who are coming in front of the judiciary are hoping that the judge read the papers that they filed. And I can't tell you how many times that I've been in court where I've heard parties say, Well, if the judge read the papers, then we should be okay. And if the judge listens to the arguments, then we should be all right. So my expectation would be to live us to that expectation and certainly be prepared to address any issues and address oral argument and be able to ask insightful, thoughtful questions to get to the bottom of things, if I had to.

SENATOR McDONALD: As in prior hearings, I've somewhat facetiously asked every nominee this question but haven't done so today. But you live in Newtown, so it's close enough. If you were appointed and the Chief Court Administrator asked you to suffer the traffic of lower Fairfield County to get to Stamford, would you do so?

SHEILA OZALIS: I would do so gladly. I worked in Stamford, Connecticut for nine years. I'm familiar with that area. I'm familiar with the courthouse; it's a beautiful, new facility.

SENATOR McDONALD: You got the Stamford row right here, actually, now that I noticed. Gladly, okay.

And, finally, the question that I have asked or tried to ask everybody is, is there anything in your background that if not disclosed today would prove to be an embarrassment to yourself, to the Governor, or to the General Assembly if we didn't know about it now?


SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much.

Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And congratulations on your nomination. I have had a chance to speak with some of my colleagues in Stamford who are familiar with your work, and they do speak very favorably of your nomination.

I'd like to follow up a little bit on what Senator McDonald was referencing with respect to your experience in a G.A. docket with -- or a G.A. court, which I recognize you've not practiced there. And many times we have judges who haven't done other types of work, so it's not uncommon for someone to come before us who has not specialized in or at least had experience in one specific area. But as I asked previous nominees, in all likelihood in a very short time you're going to find yourself in a G.A. court running a very large docket. And with a number of people who come before you, whether they be pro ses or defendants who are before you, you know, trying to seek a pretrial diversionary program, you'll have victims objecting. And while it may not be very glamorous work, you might be assigned to Bridgeport, Danbury, Stamford; who knows where you're going to eventually be assigned. It is very important to the people that are in front of you, and to them, oftentimes this is really their only experience with the Connecticut Judicial System, so it's very important that they come away with at least the impression that they were treated favor -- or fairly. I don't -- I don't -- favorably is not, you know, because sometimes some people are going to prevail, some people are not going to prevail, but at least they have to have an opportunity to be heard. And given that you will be given this responsibility of handling this courtroom with this docket with experienced prosecutors, experienced defense attorneys, what are your thoughts as to how you approach that and going forward?

SHEILA OZALIS: What I would need to find out is the process by which the judge gets the files. It would be my anticipation to be very well prepared going into any turn to know as much as possible of the files that are going to be in front of me that day, to be able to dispose of them and dispose of the matter in a thoughtful, articulate manner for the people so that they don't come in front of me and say, Oh, the judge didn't know what she was talking about; she doesn't understand this. So my goal would be to do whatever I personally had to do in order to get up to speed, not only on the rules and the laws but on the particular file so that I would be ready to hit the ground running.

SENATOR McDONALD: But sometimes you don't have that. I mean, that is certainly a great response and if that can happen, that would be the ideal. But certain times it's many of the decisions are based upon oral representations, people; there's testimony from a, you know, from an attorney. Sometimes an attorney is going to hand you letters in support or against somebody, you know, while you're on the bench; it's just the way it works. You'll have, you know, cell phones going off in the back from somebody else. You might have, you know, babies crying; a number of different things can happen in a G.A. court. And I think your demeanor and how you handle those types of situations are also a very important aspect of the job. And I don't know if you've been asked the question, but how important to you is the demeanor, judicial demeanor, and how do you see that as your role as a judge?

SHEILA OZALIS: I think it's very important. I think that going into a courtroom is an intimidating experience for a party, for witnesses. And then I think if the parties and witnesses see that the -- that the judge is not an intimidating figure, is not yelling, is willing to listen to them, is willing to let them get their -- their story out, they relax and that you have more opportunity for the facts to come forward. It's also important to maintain a calm, clear demeanor with attorneys who may not be doing exactly what you would like them to do that day but to be able to keep it on a very calm level, in order for things to proceed and get to the end result.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. Well, once again, I say thank you and congratulations.


SENATOR McDONALD: Other questions from members of the Committee? If not, thank you, very much.


SENATOR McDONALD: Next is Jose A. Suarez of West Hartford.

Good afternoon. Please raise your right hand. Do you swear that the testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?


SENATOR McDONALD: Please have a seat. It starts gets weird when you have law school classmates end up showing up before you.

JOSE SUAREZ: That's right.

SENATOR McDONALD: Good to see you.


SENATOR McDONALD: Congratulations. We'd be happy to have any opening statement.

JOSE SUAREZ: Thank you, very much. Good afternoon, Chairman McDonald and members of the Judicial Committee.

My name is Jose Suarez and it's truly a pleasure to appear before you today. I am honored and humbled to be considered for a position as a Superior Court Judge. I want to thank Governor Rell for nominating me and this Committee for their time and consideration.

I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1966, and I lived there until I was about 11 years old. My parents are strong believers in education and thought that we should move to Connecticut so that my sister, my brother, and I could have the very best education available.

In 1977, we moved to Connecticut and I entered the sixth grade with very little, if any, knowledge of English. My parents sacrificed much to make this possible. My mother, for example, worked in Stamford as an elementary schoolteacher and later on, at night, part-time. I learned early on by example that you can achieve anything, as long as you work hard for it.

I graduated high school in 1984, from the University of Dayton in 1989, and I went on to the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1993.

I started my legal career at Friedle & Ustach, a small general practice firm in New Britain, Connecticut. Although the firm handled primarily family law, we handled a wide variety of cases and ranging from personal injury to real estate. I was particularly interested in criminal law, so I accepted a Special Public Defender Contract and handled a variety of criminal matters in the New Britain G.A.

In 1996, I accepted a position with the Office of the Attorney General, and I was assigned to the Child Protection Unit. I primarily covered the Hartford and New Britain Juvenile Courts, where I routinely handled 15-to-22 cases on any given short calendar day. I was assigned one or two neglect trials per week. This experience was exhilarating and satisfying. I was ultimately assigned to the Child Protection Session in Middletown, Connecticut, a court that is designed to handle trials, particularly the termination of parental rights.

In this position, I handled at least two trials per week -- I'm sorry -- per month, ranging from two-to-five days each.

During the summer of 2003, I requested a transfer to the Environment Unit of the Attorney General's Office where I currently practice. Approximately 80 percent of my responsibilities include handling complex, multi-state litigation in Federal District

Courts throughout the country. Specifically, I handle litigation against power plants for violation of the federal Clean Air Act. I also challenge federal air pollution regulations in Federal District Courts and Circuit Courts throughout the country. These regulations range from controlling C02 from automobile emissions to mercury emissions from power plants.

In addition to my federal responsibilities, I also handle a variety of state enforcement cases. These cases include hazardous waste spills, land use, and public safety issues.

I have tried over 60 cases to conclusion in Connecticut and I've argued before the state's Appellate and Supreme Courts.

I am grateful to many people who have helped me achieve my goals over the years. I therefore feel compelled to give back to the community and have served on the Board of Directors of the Hispanic Health Council, Mercy Housing and Shelter, the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association, and the University of Connecticut School of Law Alumni Association.

My greatest professional satisfaction is looking at a set of facts, figuring out what the law is, and applying those facts to the law to come up with a conclusion. This is primarily what judges do. However, when they do it, they're not advocating a particular outcome; they're looking for the right answer to a problem. This is why I want to be a judge. And I can assure you if I'm confirmed, I will perform the duties of a judge diligently, fairly, and respectfully.

Thank you, again, for your time and consideration.

SENATOR McDONALD: Well, thank you, very much. And I probably should have mentioned that you were a couple years behind me.


SENATOR McDONALD: And -- and you're still there. It's good to see you, Jose. It's -- I'm very happy for your nomination by the -- by the Governor.

Your current work is heavily concentrated on multi-district litigation, you said?

JOSE SUAREZ: That's correct.

SENATOR McDONALD: And so that's -- where are those cases mostly pending?

JOSE SUAREZ: Well, I have cases in Ohio, in Columbus, Ohio, and Pittsburgh, and in Philadelphia. I have cases in Circuit Courts throughout the country. I handle a couple of cases in the D.C. Circuit. I have cases in the Ninth Circuit, and I have case -- I have a case in the, well, in the Southern District of New York.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. And you said that the split is about 80 percent federal and 20 percent state at the moment?

JOSE SUAREZ: Well, it -- it -- it varies, but right now it's about 80/20, yes.

SENATOR McDONALD: And has that been fairly constant over the last several years?

JOSE SUAREZ: Over the five -- past five years, I'd say it's about 80 to 20. Early on I'd say, maybe three years ago, I would say it was more like 90 to 20.

I was assigned to try a case in Columbus, Ohio, The United States et al. versus Ohio Edison and another one called The United States et al. versus American Electric Power Company. These were huge cases that took an enormous amount of time; and, in fact, for one of them, I was almost getting ready to move to Ohio for about six weeks.

SENATOR McDONALD: Would the state have paid for you to do that?

JOSE SUAREZ: Well, yes.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. The -- that was before the budget problem; right?


SENATOR McDONALD: Did you clerk for Magistrate Judge Margolis?

JOSE SUAREZ: I interned, when I was in law school for her. And when I graduated from law school, she was assigned a special project to redo the way the jury selection process in Connecticut was held. And she asked me to ask her with that special assignment. I didn't clerk for her as a -- as a tradition -- traditional -- traditional clerk, but I worked with her on this special project.

SENATOR McDONALD: And you obvious heard some of the prior questions about the racial disparity problems that we have in the State of Connecticut. Having not necessarily been in the trenches, if you will, over the last several years, at least not in Connecticut's trenches, what's your -- I assume you've read the report?


SENATOR McDONALD: What's your perception of that report and how would you approach the problem in Connecticut?

JOSE SUAREZ: Well, clearly the report indicates there's a big problem in Connecticut with racial disparity. I think there are many different reasons for it. I think there are many different policy reasons that need to be looked at to address it, but I think the most important thing is just being aware of it and recognize that there's a problem and try to -- and keep that in mind going forward. I think Judicial is aware of it. I think the prosecutors are aware of it and the public defenders, and I think this body as well.

If I remember correctly, there's been a bill recently introduced by this Committee that requires a racial impact study whenever a criminal bill is introduced, and I think that's very important; it's a first step.

SENATOR McDONALD: And it's not quite that broad but you're right, we're making some steps in that direction.

You grew up -- you were born and raised in Puerto Rico?

JOSE SUAREZ: I was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I lived in a suburb of San Juan till I was about 11, 11 years old.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. Do you -- do you feel like -- have you ever, personally, experienced any discrimination in your either personal or professional life?

JOSE SUAREZ: I -- I -- well, sure. I don't think I've ever experienced discrimination overt. I'm sure there's been some -- you're never indiscrimination by some individuals, whether it's at work or a school or just general society.

SENATOR McDONALD: And how have you -- how have you dealt with that as a personal matter?

JOSE SUAREZ: Well, I think -- I think you try to educate people, certainly if somebody overtly discriminates against you. There are a lot of ways you can do that. You can do that with humor or you could do it seriously. I try not to confront people, necessarily, because I don't think a lot of people are doing it with malice. But certainly it's something that needs to be let known to the other person.

SENATOR McDONALD: Now, with respect to and assuming you were confirmed and end up in a G.A., you heard my prior question, I suppose. Are you the person who is going to sit and read through the whole file; are you going to move the business of the -- of the court, and how do you balance that conflict?

JOSE SUAREZ: Sure. When I first came to the Attorney General's Office, I was assigned to the Hartford and New Britain Juvenile Courts where there is a huge problem. We generally handle 15-to-22 cases in one day. You have to bring the files at home, read them, prepare yourself for them, and where you're in court, you have to act upon those files quickly. I think if I were confirmed, I would take a similar approach, prepare the -- read the files, and if possible beforehand, and either the day before or the morning of and be prepared to -- to decide cases based on that information.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much, and congratulations, again, on the nomination.

Are there other questions?

JOSE SUAREZ: Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Representative Green.

REP. GREEN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good afternoon, Mr. Suarez.

JOSE SUAREZ: Good afternoon.

REP. GREEN: Mr. Suarez, I got to tell you, it doesn't appear that there's been a wide range of experiences in the -- in practicing various types of cases since your graduation. Can you give me a little bit of history about 1994 to nineteen -- I believe 1996? What kind of work did you do? What kind of law did you practice?

JOSE SUAREZ: During that, somewhat during that period of time, I was with Friedle & Ustach, a firm in New Britain. They were a general practice law firm. They handled primarily family matters; that was the bread and butter of the practice, although we handled personal injury, real estate. I handled some criminal law. It was very much a general practice firm.

REP. GREEN: Okay. You received your degree and passed the Bar in 1994. In the last five years, you've done all civil and nonjury, so in the about 14 years or 15 years, before these last five years, had done any criminal court or criminal cases? Did you see any cases to trial? I've heard this term "bench trials" and "jury trials"; had you done any?

JOSE SUAREZ: I -- I have done, I'm going to guess, over 60 bench trials; I have not done any jury trials. Early on in my career when I was at Friedle & Ustach, I practiced -- I accepted a Special Public Defender Contract and I handled individuals in matters in the New Britain G.A. That was 13 years ago, but since then I have not done so.

At the Attorney General's Office, I've been assigned to the Child Protection Unit for about six years or so, and then I went on to the Environment Unit.

REP. GREEN: And did you -- and would -- in your work as Assistant Attorney General in the Child Protection Unit, would you -- in comparison to your work in the environmental issues, is there a different type of law that you practiced? And, again -- I think that Senator McDonald said it -- the range of kinds of experiences you've had, are they the same type of experiences or different types, in terms of various types of law?

JOSE SUAREZ: They're much different type. The -- in juvenile law there's a very heavy caseload on a daily basis. And those cases have a lot of fact patterns to them. The law is relatively settled. There -- it's easy to -- to discover where the law is. It's just applying the facts to the law, and you have to do so very quickly.

There are areas that get more complicated; I'm just summarizing. In my experience in the environmental field, particularly with the Clean Air Act, the Clean Air Act is -- is extremely difficult. The cases are factually very simple and the law is extremely complicated. So it's very difficult to decide someone's case. I think District Court Judges have really a hard time figuring out what the law is. We all tend to agree on what the facts are.

REP. GREEN: Okay. I heard, also, a question about racial disparity and your thoughts, so I won't ask that. What do you think about 16 or

17-year-olds, whether or not they should be treated as adults or juveniles in the court, a criminal court system?

JOSE SUAREZ: Well, I think -- I think there are many actions that 16 and 17-year-olds are doing that benefit from Social Services and therefore they are better treated in the Juvenile Court than an adult court. However, there are some 16 and 17-year-olds who are committing some very serious crimes, and there's the balancing act. And I'm not quite sure what crime or what level of action should be in a Juvenile Court versus an adult court. I think that really depends on -- on the crime itself.

REP. GREEN: I think the current process, when we do have juveniles being tried over as adults, a lot of the decision is made with the adult court prosecutor as to whether or not their case gets sent back down. Do you believe or do you agree with that process we currently have, and if you do not, what process do you think we should have in terms of how to treat serious juvenile offenders?

JOSE SUAREZ: Well, quite frankly, I have never given it much thought because my experience in Juvenile Court has been on the neglect side of a case. I'm talking about neglected children and removing children from parents and terminating parental rights, not on their delinquency. So I have very little experience on that other side of the court.

REP. GREEN: And in your experience with working with children on the neglect side -- I'm a social worker by profession -- and there might be a belief that if I'm addressing children that are in a neglect or abuse side, that some of their criminal behavior might be associated with what's going on in their lives. And so have you had to address that question, even when you were dealing with the children on the neglect side where there might be some causes of some maybe delinquency behavior based on that? Did -- didn't that conversation sort of happen at the same time?

JOSE SUAREZ: Absolutely, it happens all the time. My role in the neglect side of a case was primarily to protect the children, remove them from the home if that's the case and provide services to the home to make sure that children unify with the home. But a lot of the behavior was based in some -- some activity that is -- that was committed by somebody else in the home. And that needs to be addressed before the children (inaudible).

REP. GREEN: Have you thought if you were to become a Superior Court Judge -- let me just think -- if you were to come across somebody that you had dealt with in a -- as a Assistant State's Attorney in the Juvenile Protection, do you feel that you should handle that case or dismiss yourself from that case, if you found out that you actually were involved directly in a -- in a now older person's case that you dealt with when they were a younger person?

JOSE SUAREZ: Absolutely. If I was the attorney prosecuting a juvenile neglect case that has now risen to a, for example, an adult case, I would recuse myself. To be honest with you, I would think that's very hard to find out. The volume was great. I mean, sometimes we had 100 cases in one week, and certainly I don't remember the names of most of them.

REP. GREEN: Do you know if you were to sit as a judge that you would have to recuse yourself from those cases or do you know what our statutes say about that?

JOSE SUAREZ: I think there's a -- it -- it -- well, I there -- if there's a conflict, I would recuse myself. I believe if I personally handle a matter, I would have to recuse myself, and I would do so.

REP. GREEN: Okay. And it also sound like it would be hard for -- how would you know that? Is there a system in place now that allows, for example, a person like yourself who may sit in that situation to know those cases that you handled in the Juvenile neglect and abuse court? How -- how -- do we have a system that allows for you to know that?

JOSE SUAREZ: Well, from -- from the Attorney General's Office, I would say no. Cases are listed -- cases are redacted or sealed in Juvenile Court and it's a closed proceeding. The Juvenile Court, itself, lists the case names by the children. Our personal files list the people by -- by the last name. So I don't know if -- how easy or hard it would be to find out which child of which family would be appearing.

REP. GREEN: And I -- and I didn't expect you to have to have that answer as much as it does maybe bring to my attention if that -- what the statute and law is, how we might help a judge just not get caught up in those kind of situation.

Let me ask you this about your thoughts about our drug laws and whether or not you think we should examine our laws on marijuana possession and use. Have you thought about that and do you have any thoughts on whether or not we should reexamine our criminal laws as it comes to those individual childs with various substance abuse crimes -- substance possession crimes?

JOSE SUAREZ: To be honest with you, I know that there is a bill pending before this General Assembly. I haven't really given it much thought one way or the other, so I really just hate to comment.

REP. GREEN: All right.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.


Representative Gonzalez.

REP. GONZALEZ: Good afternoon.

JOSE SUAREZ: Good afternoon.

REP. GONZALEZ: And congratulations.

JOSE SUAREZ: Thank you.

REP. GONZALEZ: I was reading here in your speech, and you says, My parents are strong believer in education and felt that we should move to Connecticut so that my sister, my bother, and I could have the very best education. Do you feel the same way? Do you feel the same way?

JOSE SUAREZ: Well, I feel that my parents tried very hard and worked very hard to make sure that my sister, my brother, and I had received the very best education that y parents' could afford to have got, yes.

REP. GONZALEZ: Okay. So you feel that being here in the United States you was going to get better education than Puerto Rico?

JOSE SUAREZ: Well, I think it would be more of what my parents could afford at the time.



REP. GONZALEZ: Okay. We have a -- we don't have too many Latino judges, and I received a phone call once -- well, a couple -- a lawyer saying we -- Why, he said, why the Latino lawyer is so hard on the Latino people? It seems like the Latino lawyer want to be, you know, with the clique, with, you know, is harder with minority and Latino. And my question to you is: If you get appointed to that position, do you gonna feel that because you are Latino you have to be harder with the Latino defendants and minority just to be part of a clique?

JOSE SUAREZ: Not at all. I know a lot of Hispanic and Latino attorneys, and I don't think it's been my experience with the ones that I know. I think, generally speaking, the ones that I know tend to be very compassionate with -- with Latino litigants and try very hard to -- to help them out. I think as a Latino attorney, myself, I've tried -- when I was in private practice -- to go beyond to help Latino litigants.

REP. GONZALEZ: Do you think that in this process, is -- is politics involved in the process to elect -- to appoint the judges?

JOSE SUAREZ: Well, other than -- than the process that I have gone through, which is basically the application and the Judicial Selection Committee and getting on a list of qualified attorneys, I don't know how the attorneys are selected from that list. So I don't -- I can't really comment on that, the selection process further on out.

REP. GONZALEZ: You came from the Attorney General's Office --

JOSE SUAREZ: That's right.

REP. GONZALEZ: -- right? So you think that you got the position because you came from that office; you know, is politics involved? It is very political, and do you think that you get a position because of that?

JOSE SUAREZ: I don't know. I'm -- I'm pretty sure that that's not the case in this particular -- in -- in the Attorney General's Office, but I don't really know the answer to that question.

REP. GONZALEZ: Okay. Congratulations and all that.

JOSE SUAREZ: Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Are there any other questions from members of the Committee?

If not, let me just ask you the -- for the record: Is there anything in your background that if not disclosed to this Committee and it came to light after this public hearing would prove to be an embarrassment to yourself, to the Governor or to the General Assembly?

JOSE SUAREZ: Not at all.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much, and congratulations on your nomination.

JOSE SUAREZ: Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Next is William J. Wenzel of Fairfield.

Good afternoon.

WILLIAM WENZEL: Good afternoon.

SENATOR McDONALD: Please raise your right hand. Do you swear that the testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?


SENATOR McDONALD: Please have a seat, and we'd be happy to have any opening statement you have for the Committee.

WILLIAM WENZEL: Good afternoon, Chairman McDonald, Chairman Lawlor, and members of the Judicial Committee.

My name is Bill Wenzel and I'm simultaneously honored, excited, and a little nervous to be appearing before you this afternoon. To be considered by this Committee for appointment as a Judge of the Superior Court is quite an honor, and it is rather daunting to think how I might present myself to you as worthy of your consideration. I want to start by thanking Governor Rell for nominating me and each of you on this Committee for the opportunity to come before you.

I live in Fairfield, Connecticut and have for approximately 25 years. I grew up in and around New York City, and my interest in the State of Connecticut began when I met my wife, Eileen Burns of Naugatuck, while we were both undergraduates at Colgate University. In 1975, we were married in Naugatuck and have been happily married since then. Eileen is my most loyal supporter, and I would not be before you today without her.

Shortly after our marriage, we left Naugatuck for me to attend law school at the University of Tulsa College of Law. Somehow the study of law was a natural fit for me, and I graduated in 1978 with high honors and having served as Editor-in-Chief of the Tulsa Law Journal. I served one year as a law clerk for the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern and Eastern Districts of Oklahoma and then went into private practice.

When Eileen and I returned to Connecticut, we came to live in Fairfield. I joined the law firm of Goldstein & Peck in Bridgeport and continued my practice in a broad range of law, but principally in civil litigation.

In 1988, I joined the Litigation Department of the law firm then known as Pullman, Comley, Bradley, & Reeves in Bridgeport. For the past 20 years, I've had the opportunity to litigate and try cases in the Probates Courts, Superior Court, District Courts and a number of arbitration forums. I have argued approximately 12 cases before the Connecticut Supreme Court and the Connecticut Appellate Court, and a slightly smaller number before the Second Circuit Court of Appeals and other Appellate Courts. I've had the opportunity to represent individuals, businesses, and municipalities both as plaintiffs and defendants in our court system. Early in my practice I handled criminal, family, and personal injure matters. Later, my practice came to focus more heavily on the defense of health care providers in medical malpractice or licensing disputes, intellectual property cases, and employment and discrimination matters. Ultimately, however, the weight of my practice has always been in the area of complex commercial and civil litigation.

My wife and I have three children and, naturally, this led to our involvement in the Fairfield school system. I began coaching youth soccer, and this, in turn, led to my service on the Fairfield Town Youth Council. That, in turn, led to my appointment to the Fairfield Board of Police Commissioners where I served from 1989 through 1999. I have had the opportunity to serve on a number of other civic and charitable organizations as well.

I seek appointment to the Superior Court as an opportunity to serve the community with the same level of commitment and zealousness which I have tried to bring to my practice. The citizens of Connecticut are deserving of the best and, if approved, I will always strive to deliver that standard.

I have been extraordinarily blessed during my practice, and whatever talents or qualifications I might bring for this appointment, they come about simply from following the examples of those attorneys with whom I have worked and of those judges before whom I've had the opportunity to appear. If approved by this Committee for appointment as a Judge of the Superior Court, I offer my unconditional assurance that I shall never betray your trust or disappoint your confidence in me.

I want to thank you, once again, for this opportunity to appear before you, and I welcome your inquiries and questions.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much, Bill. It was kind of a strange day. We had Judge Thim earlier today, and I said that was the first judge I appeared before. And you're the one who sent me to appear before him.

Just so everybody knows, Bill is a -- is a partner in the law firm that I am a partner in. And I've known you since the first days of my practice of law and --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- I know you to be a fantastic lawyer, but you've also been a tremendous teacher to lots and lots of other lawyers. And you're entirely too humble about your contributions to many lawyers who have been under your tutelage, and not the least of which is myself, so I am thrilled to have you here, Bill. And I know you to be a fabulous lawyer; I know you will be a great judge. I don't have any questions, but congratulations on your --

WILLIAM WENZEL: Thank you, very much --

SENATOR McDONALD: -- on your nomination.


SENATOR McDONALD: Are there any questions from members of the Committee?

Representative Green.

REP. GREEN: Thank you.

Just a couple of familiar questions that I've -- that I've asked of most people. And I haven't really had an opportunity to look at where you practice, and, again, it's a -- it looks like 100 percent civil in the last five years. Have you done some criminal work?

WILLIAM WENZEL: Yes, I have, Representative. Early in my career I did represent a number of criminal defendants. Coming out of my clerkship, I had been appointed by the Federal District Judge to represent a number of indigent defendants in a Federal District Court. And I did that during the first

two-to-three years of my practice; these included very serious felonies in Federal Court.

I also, during my early years, had the opportunity to represent a number of defendants in less-complex misdemeanor charges. Since then, my practice has been largely to the point of almost exclusively in the area of civil litigation.

REP. GREEN: Let me ask you this: If you were to be a member of the Superior Court, tell me a little bit about your personality in terms of how approachable are you. Are you open to feedback and criticism? I was messed up on that question since it seems like attorneys are somewhat nervous about speaking about the behavior of judges, in that, in a sense, judges expect not to hear those kind of comments. What is your personality like?

WILLIAM WENZEL: Well, I can't claim to be entirely objective about the topic, but I think I'm open. I try to listen to both sides. I often reserve judgment until I've had the opportunity to hear both sides, to consider all the information; and, perhaps that's because I've learned that when I leap to conclusions, I often leap to the wrong conclusion. So I try to be patient. I think it's important to let everyone speak their mind and convey to me the information that I need to make the best possible decision.

With regard to other judges, I suspect judging is not an easy job. And we have all been before judges who might under the press of a busy docket seem impatient. They might have just had a bad experience with some attorney on some legal issue. They might have been reversed by an Appellate Court. Whatever the -- whatever the judge brings to the bench, as a -- as a counsel for a litigant, it's my job to advocate my client's interest for that particular judge, his or her likes or dislikes, their proclivities, whatever they bring. By the same token, I've learned that the best judges bring the best qualities to the bench, the ability to listen to everyone, to appear absolutely impartial to everyone that comes in that court, whether they know you and have known the counsel for years or counsel just came in from out of town. So if I'm lucky enough to be approved by this Committee, I would strive to bring those best practices to the bench.

REP. GREEN: If you were sitting as a judge in criminal court, I sometimes, as I observe proceedings in criminal court, particularly, it appear in my -- and this is -- this is something that I'm continuing to watch and to think a lot about -- is that because of the volume, particularly in some urban areas, the prosecutors appear to be in control of the courts. They seem to set the process, the cases that are heard, the disposition. What role do you think judges have in a criminal court, especially when you're dealing with volume in terms of your role versus the prosecutor's?

WILLIAM WENZEL: It's hard to serve two masters, and I understand that everyone in a busy criminal court has to move the caseload. By the same token, quality can never slip. For each of those defendants, they're not one of 180 or 250 cases, they're one defendant. And that might be their only experience with our system, and it's got to be a good experience. And they expect the delivery of services, just as any other business, perhaps, in a fair, impartial, and professional manner.

I don't think that job is going to be easy to balance those two interests. While as a new judge, I certainly would expect to rely on the expertise and competence and professionalism of the prosecutor, if I did not perceive that to be the case, then it would be my role to make sure that things are done right, fairly, and impartially.

REP. GREEN: Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.


Representative O'Neill.

REP. O'NEILL: Good afternoon.

WILLIAM WENZEL: Good afternoon, sir.

REP. O'NEILL: Congratulations on your nomination.


REP. O'NEILL: We have a few, standardized questions, and one that we always ask -- I'm sure you heard it; I think I asked it a couple of times before, earlier today -- is there anything in your background that has not been disclosed to us or to the Governor's Office which if it were tomorrow to be disclosed in the front pages of the New York Times constitute a severe embarrassment to either you, the Committee or the Legislature or the Governor's Office?

WILLIAM WENZEL: No, there is not.

REP. O'NEILL: Okay. Sometimes I feel like when I ask that question, it's like saying, Is there anything interested that you've ever done?

WILLIAM WENZEL: That may be a sad reflection on my life that there's very little. I can't imagine what could make the headlines of the Pennysaver magazine, much less the New York Times.

REP. O'NEILL: I have the same problem sometimes, and I keep working on that with my press secretary, though. Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Are there any other questions from Mr. Wenzel? If not, congratulations, again, Bill.

WILLIAM WENZEL: Thank you, very much.

SENATOR McDONALD: Next is Dawne G. Westbrook of Glastonbury.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Good afternoon.

SENATOR McDONALD: Good afternoon. Please raise your right hand. Do you swear that the testimony you're about the give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?


SENATOR McDONALD: Please have a seat, and we'd be happy to have any opening statement you have for the Committee.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Thank you. Good afternoon, Senator McDonald and member of Judicial Committee.

It is both an honor and a privilege to appear before you. I would like to thank Governor Rell for nominating me to serve.

My name is Dawne Westbrook. I was raised by my mother in Dayton, Ohio where I was educated in the Dayton Public School System. I went on to attend Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, on a full scholarship where I graduated Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude, in 1992. I then attended Vanderbilt University School of Law, also in Nashville, Tennessee, graduating in 1995. I was employed by the Tennessee General Assembly as a Legislative Analyst for one session before getting married and moving to Connecticut with my husband, Tory Westbrook, in 1996. I've made Connecticut my home over the past 13 years.

For three-and-a-half years, I served as Assistant Commission Counsel for the State of Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities. As an Assistant Commission Counsel One, I was a neutral fact finder. In that role, I had to investigate facts and evidence and apply the law. The results usually adversely affected one party. I also mediated and negotiated a number of the settlements.

I went on to work as an associate at the law firm of Williams & Pattis in New Haven for three years. As an associate, I took on challenging cases and advocated as best I could. I tried at least 20 jury trials to verdict as an associate, winning plaintiff's verdicts in First Amendment and Fourth Amendment jury trials. I appeared in every Geographical Area Court in the state with the exemption of, perhaps, Enfield.

For the past five-and-a-half years, I have operated as a solo practitioner. I have focussed my practice on juvenile law, criminal law, and Civil Rights law. I've held Special Public Defender's Contracts in Meriden, New Haven, Middletown, Hartford, and Manchester. I've held Juvenile Contracts in New Britain and Middletown, doing both neglect and abuse cases, and delinquency matters. As a solo practitioner, I have managed every aspect of a legal proceeding and in the process I've become intimately familiar with the system, the players, the rules, the client personalities, the business of lawyering, and the legal system, itself.

I've also taught paralegal courses at Manchester Community College for the past three years. I've been a presenter for a number of Bar Association trainings, including the Connecticut Bar Association, the New Haven County Bar Association, the Hartford County Bar Association. As a 2004 graduate of the Connecticut Commission on Children's Parent Leadership Training Institute, PLTI, I felt my life enriched enough that I became a facilitator for the same in 2008.

I've been committed to public interest and community service, generally taking a very active role in the same, as a member of the Connecticut Judicial Branch's Public Service and Trust Steering Committee, as well as the larger outgrowth of that committee, the Public Service and Trust Commission, as well as a number of the subcommittees. I sit on the Statewide Grievance Committee, the Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund Board, and the Governor's Advisory Task Force on CHRO. I have served in a volunteer capacity as a State Conference of NAACP Legal Redress Counsel since 2005.

My husband, children, and I have been residents of Glastonbury since 2005. While a resident of Glastonbury, I have served on the Glastonbury Town Democratic Committee. Prior to moving to Glastonbury, I was a resident of Middletown. While a resident of Middletown, I served as a member of the Middletown Democratic Town Committee, the Middletown School Readiness Council, and a Commissioner for the Middletown Inland Wetlands Commission. I also made my first and only attempt at public office, running for a seat on the Middletown Board of Education in 2003.

While I've had numerous jobs since entering the workforce, I have generally spent my time working in the area of public interest law. Interning during law school with such organizations as the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, in Washington, D.C., the National Center on Women and Family Law, in New York, New York, and the Service Training for Environmental Program, both in Birmingham, Alabama and then again in Nashville, Tennessee.

While a law student, I worked for a local domestic violence shelter, often working the overnight shift, responding to those in need for a court -- those in need. I also worked for a court-ordered program called PEACE, Project to End Abuse through Counselling and Education, counselling men on the effects of domestic violence.

My career has largely been spent working for people who have had something go wrong in their lives and who have trusted me to see that they were treated fairly. Throughout my career, I have managed conflict in some of the most socially contentious issues facing our nation. I have done so because I believe in our country and our state, and I believe that they are based on notions of fairness, equality, and opportunity. It has given me enormous perspective. It is those very principles I believe that have led to this enormous opportunity. It is that perspective that I believe adds to the strength of my candidacy.

Again, I am honored to appear before you. I appreciate your attention and welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have for me.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much, Attorney Westbrook, and congratulations on your nomination.

I had a opportunity over the weekend to get some calls and some press inquiries on a subject that I think needs to be flushed out here so that everybody has some common facts, so that we make sure that we're making an informed decision and certainly making sure that you have an opportunity to express your experiences and make sure that there's a very clear record. And that revolves around a appointment made by the Senate Majority Leader of yourself, I believe, in September of last year to the -- to the Ethics -- the Citizen's Advisory Board of the Ethics Commission; okay?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Certainly, and with your indulgence, I -- I've prepared a statement regarding that --


DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- if that's --

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. So why don't we start there.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: And -- and, you know, I want to say first of all, I received the same phone calls over the weekend and, you know, I respect a journalist's rights to exercise one of the greatest Constitutional rights we have in this country, and that's the First Amendment; and I'd be disingenuous if I sat here and told you that I did not. And in an era of transparency in ethics, I actually applaud, you know, any exposure that the journalist thought that he was doing, but I really would like to set the record straight about some of the facts. I will attempt to give you as many details as possible about the -- the appointment.

Around the 10th of September of 2008, through Senator Looney's Office, I was asked if I would be interested in a board position of the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board. I was forwarded a checklist, and I believe I -- you've been provided a copy of the e-mail and the checklist that I was forwarded. And I don't know if everyone has the packet (inaudible) --

SENATOR McDONALD: Let me interrupt you and make sure everybody does have it. The Governor's Office has provided us with a package of information. There's no cover page, but the first page has a -- well, it looks like this, folks. It has -- says, In accordance with the General Statutes 1-80b, is the first line, and it should have all been passed out in your packets. So if you want to follow along, and I -- I suspect Attorney Westbrook will be talking about some of that information.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: That's correct.

SENATOR McDONALD: Apologies for the interruption.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I was forwarded a checklist, a copy of which I believe you have in your packets. It purported to be Connecticut General Statute 1-80. The e-mail was sent from the Executive Director of the Office of State Ethics to one of Senator Looney's aides. The checklist indicated the necessary requirements as a member of the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board.

I was asked also to provide a résumé. Once I did so, Senator Looney's Office consulted with the Executive Director at the -- at the Office of State Ethics about whether or not my membership on a town committee constituted an elected position which would not be in compliance with the requirements. The Executive Director advised Senator Looney's Office that it was, and I agreed to resign from my town Democratic Committee.

A press release was issued by Senate Looney's Office sometime after that but before the first meeting of September 25th. A press release was also issued by my own senator, Senator Mary Ann Handley, announcing that I was being appointed to the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board.

Around the same time, I received a call from both the Executive Director and Legal Counsel of the Office of State Ethics saying that my membership on the Statewide Grievance Committee and my employment at Manchester Community College may be an issue. They wanted to do some research and have a conference call regarding the same. I believe you have an e-mail memorializing that as well.

During the conference call, I was questioned about whether or not I had a State Employee Number, whether I filled out W-4 forms for the Manchester Community College job. I faxed them a copy of my contract. They were to get back to me. It was decided that in order to serve on the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board, I would have to resign from my job at Manchester Community College. The Statewide Grievance Committee was not in conflict. I resigned from my Manchester Community College job.

On September 25th, at 2 p.m. in the -- I'm sorry -- 1 p.m. in the afternoon, I attended the first and only meeting of the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board that I ever attended. At that meeting, I was handed a large binder. I brought that with me. This binder had been prepared for me and included all the information I needed to know about serving as a board member. At that meeting I was administered an oath. I voted on three procedural motions to table issues. I abstained on two others. I had not been there for the minutes prior, so I couldn't vote to accept the minutes or reject the minutes. And I voted on one substantive issue, and that was an issue regarding an individual who had not filed their Statement of Financial Interests.

I was present when the board went into executive session for 13 minutes, and that evening and the following evening, I began to read the manual that had been provided to me. As I read, I discovered that there was a 2006 amendment to Connecticut General Statute 1-8

-- 80b. That indicated that service on the board meant that an individual may not serve as a Superior Court Judge for a period of one year following service.

My knee-jerk reaction was to resign, and I actually began drafting a resignation, but I decided to do a little research first. I discovered that the Superior Court Judges were initially exempted out of the statute but put in for some reason in 2006. As I had done regarding the Manchester Community College position, the Statewide Grievance Committee, and the Glastonbury Town Democratic position before sending anything out, I contacted the Office of State Ethics and left a voicemail indicating that I needed to talk to someone as soon as possible. I wanted to discuss if there was any other reading or any exceptions to the statute. I also sent an e-mail on Friday to Legal Counsel indicating that I needed to discuss the information in the manual as soon as possible. You have a copy of that e-mail in your packet as well. That was on a Friday.

I received a call on Monday morning, at 9 a.m. on -- let me say this: I received an e-mail on Monday morning, at 9 a.m. -- you have that

e-mail in your packet -- responding to my

e-mail, asking, What time is good to call? I called the Office of State Ethics based on that e-mail and I spoke to Legal Counsel. There may have been another party in the office, but I'm not sure. I don't have contemporaneous notes that were prepared at the time of -- of these occurrences.

I asked if there were any exceptions to this rule, if I was reading it correctly, and how it should be handled because I could not serve. Legal Counsel understood the issue and said she was going to get back to me. She got back to me, shortly thereafter, and saw no other way but for me not to serve. I was instructed to call the Chairman of the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board on his cell phone to discuss the matter. I did so. In consultation with the Chairman, I discussed the possibility of rescinding my acceptance of the -- the appointment. I then called the Legal Counsel back and told her that I would be rescinding my acceptance of the appointment with the effective date being the day that I had attended the one, three-and-a-half hour meeting.

During the same time period, I was trying to reach Senator Looney's Office to advise him of the issue as well. I'd spoken to someone in his office that morning but wanted to speak to Senator Looney personally before I sent anything out. I eventually spoke with Senate Looney, after I spoke to the Office of State Ethics, and I informed him that I needed to rescind my acceptance. After discussing and informing all parties, I e-mailed a letter of rescission at 12:17 p.m. on Monday. You have a copy of that e-mail.

The Office of State Ethics accepted the rescission. I received an e-mail at 12:29 p.m., 12 minutes after I sent the first

e-mail, from the Executive Director of the Office of State Ethics stating that I am sorry you could not serve. You have a copy of that e-mail.

On October 2nd, the Executive Director sent an e-mail to the entire Office of State Ethics' staff indicating that I had rescinded my acceptance and that I was unable to serve. After that contact where she carbon-copied me on that October 2nd e-mail, I never had any further contact with the Office of State Ethics, its staff, board members or any other parties present at the one, three-and-a-half hour meeting that I attended.

I fully consider my acceptance rescinded, as the agency with jurisdiction over this revolving door issue and the agency that was fully aware of any activities I had been involved in with the same had accepted my rescission. From the time that I was asked to consider the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board to the time of the only meeting I attended was approximately two weeks. It was not something I considered as service.

It was not something I hid from the public either. There were minutes. CTN was at that meeting, and there were at least two press releases, one issued by a member of this Committee. I did not think it was an issue. Any omission on my part was not an attempt to deceive or mislead anyone, it was based on an honest belief that I had rescinded my -- my acceptance and that the Office of State Ethics had accepted it.

I could go on further about legal research that I've done since then, but I am open to questions, if you have any.

SENATOR McDONALD: Well, thank you, very much for that synopsis. I think that probably provides a nice framework for some of the questions I had for you, and it probably sped -- sped up the process substantially, so I appreciate that.

First of all, when you attended the

September 25th meeting, were you ever compensated in any way for it, for mileage or anything like that?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: No, I received no compensation.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. And you said that you had done a number of things in advance to prepare for your service on the -- on the Advisory Board including resigning your town committee post and as a -- what were you teaching at Manchester Community College?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Administrative Law; it was a paralegal course.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. So you -- so you resigned two separate positions. Did anybody from the -- from the Ethics Agency ever tell you about the revolving door provision of the statute, before September 25th?


SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. So and at that -- and you said you were provided with that binder that you brought. You were provided that when?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I was provided that at the meeting on September 25, 2008.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. And you were -- I just want to be clear -- you were sworn in by the general counsel at that meeting; correct?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: At that meeting at 1 p.m., yes.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. You don't deny that you took the oath of office for (inaudible) --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I do not deny that I took the oath of office.

SENATOR McDONALD: Now -- and I told you ahead of time that I was going to ask you a series of questions, so I --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I understand.

SENATOR McDONALD: -- apologize for this, but we do need to flush this out.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I understand.

SENATOR McDONALD: And for the benefit of members of the Committee, let me just say that we have some complicated legal issues that might surround this, so part of the -- part of the purpose of this public hearing is to create a documented set of facts under sworn testimony. And we have asked the Attorney General's Office to listen to the facts that are being presented by Attorney Westbrook and to provide a legal opinion to the Committee about the law as it's applied to those facts. So -- and -- and you were aware of that; correct?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I was aware of that. Yes --



SENATOR McDONALD: So let me just go on. I just wanted to ask a couple of other questions. You got that binder before or after you took that oath of office, if you recall?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I recall that the binder was given to me at the meeting. I don't recall the sequence of whether I put my hand up first and took the oath or whether they handed me the binder. I was given the binder sometime during the meeting.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. And had you ever had an opportunity prior to September 25th to review the statutes relating to the Advisory Board?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: What I had was the checklist that -- that had been forwarded to me by the Office of State Ethics that indicated the -- the qualifications. And that was why I resigned from the teaching position and from the town Democratic Committee. And that -- that was what I had.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. But my question was: Did you ever review the statutes relating to the Ethics Advisory Board prior to September 25th?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: No. No, I didn't.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. And when did you review the materials in the binder?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I reviewed them on Thursday and on Friday.


DAWNE WESTBROOK: I have a recollection of Thursday. My daughter has cheerleading; I took the binder with me. I read it while she attended cheerleading practice. And I also read it on Friday. I recall that there was a Presidential Democratic Debate, because I -- I remember reading it during that -- that time and -- and thought of doing some of my own research about, you know, why a Superior Court Judge position was in there, why would you point it out.

SENATOR McDONALD: Now just so we're clear, when did you first apply to the Judicial Selection Commission for purposes of consider -- being considered as a judge?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: When did I first apply or when did I --

SENATOR McDONALD: I'll get there.


SENATOR McDONALD: When did you first apply?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: It was sometime, I believe, in 2007; I'm not sure exactly what the date is. I remember when I was interviewed.


DAWNE WESTBROOK: But it was sometime in 2007.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. Then when were -- when were you interviewed?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I was interviewed, I believe, in September of 2007.

SENATOR McDONALD: And when did you receive notification from the Judicial Selection that you were approved?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I believe it was within a week of having that interview.

SENATOR McDONALD: Oh, so sometime in 2007.


SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. And when did -- when you -- so you knew you were on the list prior to being sworn in.


SENATOR McDONALD: And then you read the binder on that Thursday and Friday. When did you first read the provision about the revolving door provision in the statute?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: It was either on Thursday or Friday. I recall -- I'm not -- I'm not sure. Again, this is not something I kept notes about in terms of dates, but I do know that I read the binder both of those -- those days, and I know I sent the e-mail on Friday. And I know that Thursday, it would have been in the evening time anyway, so I couldn't have gotten in touch with anyone.

SENATOR McDONALD: And I certainly understand not keeping contemporary -- contemporaneous notes of something that happened like that, but I -- if you don't recall, that's fine; I just need to ask the questions.

So when did you first contact anybody at the Ethics Agency after you had read the binder?



DAWNE WESTBROOK: Friday, September the 26th.


DAWNE WESTBROOK: And you have an -- you have an

e-mail, but I also left a voicemail.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. So you attempted in two different manners to contact them.


SENATOR McDONALD: And you did not receive any contact back from the office until Monday morning.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Correct. My recollection is that I sent the e-mail; I hadn't heard from anyone. And I sent the e-mail, and it was after office hours. And I think in the e-mail that you all have, which the -- the e-mail actually starts with Legal Counsel saying, What time is good to reach you? Underneath that is my original e-mail to her where I realized that she probably wouldn't be contacting me until Monday and I said I'm hoping I can talk to you on Monday.

And I have a recollection that I called before they were open on Monday, at eight-something, and I got an e-mail back -- which you have -- at nine-something from the -- from Legal Counsel asking what time is good to call.

SENATOR McDONALD: And then after that, the General Counsel of the Office of State Ethics -- well, you called her?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I called her.

SENATOR McDONALD: And what did you say to her?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I told her that I had read the binder, that there was a 2006 amendment -- I believe it's listed under Tab 9 of this binder -- that indicates that an individual -- I'll read it directly, if that is helpful: No member of the board may hold any other position in state employment for a period of one year following the end of such member's service on the board, including but not limited to service as a member on a state board or commission, service as a Judge of the Superior Court, and also service as a state agency commissioner.

I asked her, you know, does she know anything about this. I recall that I had done some research and I saw that initially Superior Court Judges were exempted out of this statute, and I guess the 2006 amendment, they were put back in. I asked her if she knew why or -- or what would she suggest, was there any exception. This was an appointment until 2013, so agreeing to this would have meant that I would have given up the opportunity to become a judge until 2014. And while I had no idea whether I'd ever have the opportunity to become a judge, it was not something I was willing to give up. I recall that she said, Let me close the door. And she -- she kind of read it over with me and -- and said, Oh, boy, and said that she -- Let me get back to you. And she got back to me pretty fast, was my recollection. That was nine in the morning.

SENATOR McDONALD: And what did she say to you when she got back to you?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: She said, I don't -- I don't see my way around this. Yeah, you can't serve. You can't serve and become a judge. Outside of that, I don't know -- I can't -- I don't know exactly what she said to me, but she sort of confirmed what -- any research that I had done, she -- she had confirmed.

And she, what she said was, Why don't you call the Chair and talk to the Chair? And I was provided with the Chair's cell phone number.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. And who is the Chair?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: His name is Robert -- and I'm going to mispronounce it -- Worgatfik;


SENATOR McDONALD: And did she say anything else to you in that conversation, when she got back to you?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I think she said that it would probably be a problem for -- for the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board in getting quality people to have that exception in there and that some people in her office might actually run into the same problem because it implied to employees. That was sort of -- I don't -- that's not necessarily related to me, but I -- I recall that she said that probably would cause problems and, you know, related to employees who -- who were employed there. That was the end of my conversation with her until after I spoke with the Chair and told her my intention to send a letter of rescission.

SENATOR McDONALD: And as of that Monday -- I guess that was the 29th? ?


SENATOR McDONALD: As of the 29th, , did you believe that you had commenced service on the Citizen's Advisory Board?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: You're laying the ultimate question on me. Did I believe? I had not been involved in state ethics and -- and so -- and in the whole concept of commencing service on -- on a board like this. So that was sort of why I came to them with, you know, How can I undo this or what can be done here?

SENATOR McDONALD: Well, if you --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: (Inaudible) --

SENATOR McDONALD: -- were trying to undo something, do you --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- believe that --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- you'd --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- indeed --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Undo the fact --

SENATOR McDONALD: -- done something?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- that I had now -- that I had accepted the appointment. That's a difficult question to answer. I mean, when you say did I believe that I had started to serve, I believe that I had accepted the appointment and that I had attended that one meeting. I knew that I wasn't provided this binder until I got to that meeting. Beyond that, I guess defining what service is, you know, I don't know that I thought at that point that I had done much to consider myself as having served on the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board.

SENATOR McDONALD: But at that point in time you knew something had transpired that you felt needed to be undone.


SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. So regardless -- you're right. I mean, in theory, I guess, the term "service" could have some technical legal meaning, and I presume the Attorney General's Office will let us know that, if it does. But whatever had happened, you had been sworn in, you had cast some votes, and you were seeking to undo that as best you could, given the newly discovered information that you didn't know about previously.


SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. Now, you were told to call the Chair of the -- of the Ethics Agency; did you do so?


SENATOR McDONALD: And when was that?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: That was soon after I spoke with Legal Counsel, so it had to be sometime Monday morning, September 29th, sometime after nine but before I actually wrote and sent the letter of rescission. So it would have to be sometime Monday morning.

SENATOR McDONALD: And did you -- what did you say to the Chairman and what did he say to you?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I advised the Chairman of the issue that I am on the Judicial Selection list, that I had hopes of one day becoming a judge, and that accepting this appointment meant that I was certainly delaying that until at least 2014. I have a recollection that we discussed rescinding the acceptance and the effective date. I can't tell you who suggested it. I can completely own that I wrote the letter of rescission and that I'm the one who sent it. But I had a discussion with him about rescinding my acceptance.

SENATOR McDONALD: Did you have a discussion with him about the differences between a rescission and a resignation?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: As I sit here today, I don't recall whether we had a technical discussion about the two.


DAWNE WESTBROOK: He's not a lawyer and -- and not that that means that, you know, I wouldn't have that discussion -- but I don't know. I don't. I don't recall whether or not we had a discussion about the distinction between the two.

SENATOR McDONALD: And as you sit here today, you can't recall who first suggested that you might be able to rescind the appointment?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I do not recall. I recall that I called Legal Counsel back after the conversation and told her that I would be sending a letter of rescission. And I recall that it was accepted and, you know, as evidenced by the e-mail. So --

SENATOR McDONALD: All right. We're going -- we're going to get there, but --


SENATOR McDONALD: But before you leave that conversation with the Chairman, was there agreement between yourself and the Chairman at the end of that telephone call that a letter of rescission was the appropriate way to try to, as you say, undo this factual circumstance?


SENATOR McDONALD: He did say that?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: He -- yeah. He -- he said that I could send a letter of rescission effective the date of the one meeting that I attended, yes.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. And after that conversation, you then called the General Counsel back --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- is that right? And what did you tell the General Counsel at that -- in --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- that conversation?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I told the General Counsel that I was going to be sending a letter of rescission, after I informed Senator Looney of -- of my intentions.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. And you were able to contact Senator Looney on that Monday?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I had already been in the process while -- between talking to General Counsel and the Chairman, I had been in the process of trying to reach Senator Looney. My recollection is that I spoke to someone in his office, but I wanted to speak with him directly before I sent anything out there and he was blind-sided and someone called and said, you know, why did she sent this.

SENATOR McDONALD: Legislators appreciate that attempt every once in a while.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: So I -- I do recall that I must have reached him prior to when I sent the

e-mail out at 12:20 -- I'm sorry -- 12:18. And you -- you have that e-mail. And I think that e-mail is actually at the bottom of the Executive Director's e-mail which says, Sorry. I'm sorry you weren't able to serve. Good luck. Yous have the e-mail and you --


DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- can see Senator Looney's

e-mail address is on there.

SENATOR McDONALD: Understood. But I want to focus for a second on the conversation between yourself and the General Counsel of the Office of State Ethics. When you informed her that you were planning on sending, ultimately, a letter of rescission, did she say anything to you?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I don't -- I don't recall anything substantive being -- I don't. Well, I don't recall anything that she said. I know she didn't object to me sending the letter.

SENATOR McDONALD: She never -- she never said you can't rescind?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Absolutely not.

SENATOR McDONALD: And after that conversation -- was that the sum and substance of that conversation?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Yes, it was to let her know that I was going to be sending a letter of rescission after I talked to Senator Looney.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. And how did you come to contact the Executive Director of the agency on that subject?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I don't have a recollection that I actually spoke to the Executive Director. I know that I e-mailed her the -- the letter. And that's, again, the --


DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- e-mail there. And she

e-mailed me back within a few minutes.


DAWNE WESTBROOK: I don't recall whether I actually spoke to her before I did this.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. And the -- after you did that, there's nothing in her e-mail back to you that would in any way indicate that the Ethics, that the Office of State Ethics thought you were unable to rescind the appointment. Is that fair --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Absolutely --

SENATOR McDONALD: -- to say?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- not. In fact, it says, I'm sorry you were unable to serve. And the next e-mail says that I sent a letter of rescission and that I've determined that I am unable to serve because of the statutory restrictions.

SENATOR McDONALD: Right. And that was sent out a couple days later on October 2nd; right?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Yes, to the full staff, and I was carbon copied.

SENATOR McDONALD: So the general question, did anybody from the Office of State Ethics, whether the Executive Director, the Chairman, any other board members, the General Counsel, any staff member ever say to you that you couldn't rescind your appointment as a member of the agency?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Absolutely not.

SENATOR McDONALD: And after that letter was sent, did -- I'm just looking at my notes here. Give me one second. You then faxed the letter to Senator Looney that night; is that right? The 29th?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: No. It was -- it was in the afternoon, at twelve -- I -- I e-mailed at 12:18, it looks like. And I faxed. Probably around the same time I faxed a letter to Senator Looney's Office with my signature.

SENATOR McDONALD: Why -- I guess my question is: Why is that letter then dated on

September 25th when you were -- when you wrote it and sent it on September 29th?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Well, my intent was to have that be the effective date of the rescission, was on the date that I attended the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board meeting.

SENATOR McDONALD: And, you know, I -- hindsight is 20/20; right? But did you give -- at the time, did you give any thought to doing a more comprehensive letter explaining what was happening and why you were rescinding the --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- rescinding the nomination or the appointment?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I can say, initially, that soon after I read -- well, soon after I read the 2006 amendment and I actually did begin drafting something, I probably was loading it with too -- too much information, quite frankly, to the fact that an individual has been approved by the Judicial Selection Commission is a matter of sort of

self-reporting. I didn't think that I wanted to put that information in a letter as, you know, the reason why I was rescinding, so I erred on the side of putting, you know, because of statutory -- because of the statutory restrictions.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. Now, just a couple more questions. You -- yeah, I wrote this down -- you said that the agency accepted the decision.


SENATOR McDONALD: Do you come to that conclusion merely because they never objected?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Well, and because they sent me an e-mail that was in 11 minutes after me sending it saying that I am sorry you're unable to serve. And then they informed their entire body on October 2nd that I had sent a letter of rescission, that I have determined that I am unable to serve because of the statutory restrictions, and that Senator Looney's Office was working on a new appointment. And no one had ever raised the issue to me and said you can't do this, we aren't accepting it. You know, I -- I -- it was accepted, for all intents and purposes.


DAWNE WESTBROOK: In my opinion.

SENATOR McDONALD: Fine. And why I ask is I'm trying to figure out if -- it's probably not a question for you -- but -- but what I'm trying to find out is if there's in any way -- because of their conduct and how they received and processed the information in the conversations you had with Legal Counsel, staff members, and the Chairman -- whether there's any potential argument that there's been a waiver by the Office of State Ethics on the issue. That's what I'm trying to -- what -- what I'm asking you these questions for. Do you -- have you given any thought to that, to that concept that they've somehow --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- waived --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I don't know.

SENATOR McDONALD: -- their -- waived any provisions of the law?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I don't know that I would have -- that I would use the word "waiver" but they are the agency that would have jurisdiction over the revolving door violation, and they had accepted it. So I -- I don't know that I'd call it that they waived it. But they were the agency and they knew full well what my participation had been up to that point when I was allowed to submit the letter of rescission.

SENATOR McDONALD: You know, this probably -- all of this probably falls under the category of no good deed goes unpunished. You were -- you were trying to --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: It was all borne out of an altruistic desire to serve on the State Ethics Board and -- and two different desires to serve, you know, the public, the Judicial Branch and the State Ethics. And I had given up a paying job and, you know, I'd given up things. I was that interested in serving on the board.

SENATOR McDONALD: And that shouldn't get lost in all of this. I -- you -- you should be congratulated for your public service and your effort to continue and expand on that public service. That should be stated for the record and publicly.

Having said that, would you have -- and just sort of a conclusion -- a concluding question: Had you ever known about the revolving door provision that had been added in 2006, would you ever have accepted the nomination by Senator Looney?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Absolutely not.

SENATOR McDONALD: I thank you, very much, for answering my question. I'm sure other members of the Committee have some.

Representative Fox.

REP. FOX: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And good afternoon --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Good afternoon.

REP. FOX: -- Attorney Westbrook. And I should just point out that your name came to me -- my attention last, I think last summer, last spring, from attorneys that I know in the Stamford area who thought very highly of you as a potential judicial candidate.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I appreciate that.

REP. FOX: And so I've heard good things about you for some time now. And I can imagine that this, what's happened in the last two days has probably got you scrambling a little bit to try to piece together what happened and to try to explain how it happened.

What I'm -- I've gone through the minutes while you were answering these questions. One of the questions I have is: Did you participate really at all at the meeting that you attended? And you said you voted and I don't see your name mentioned anywhere.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: No, I didn't have any discussions on any -- any of the votes. I actually abstained on two of them. Two of them, my recollection is were procedural motions, motions to table an issue until the next meeting. I -- I -- no, I didn't have any general discussion. I didn't have enough information about the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board at that point to -- to say very much.

REP. FOX: And after you rescinded your -- not your acceptance (inaudible) your position on the Ethics Commission, did anyone ever question your rescission?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: No, absolutely not. I -- I actually have -- since this happened and not at that time, because, again, at the time, I didn't think it was an issue -- I've actually gone back to look at the following month's meet -- the meeting minutes just to see whether anybody raised the issue or -- or mentioned it. And I didn't see anything. And I never had any contact with any of the individuals, staff, the Executive Director, Legal Counsel, board members, the Chair, after September 29th when I sent it, and then once they carbon-copied me on their e-mail informing their entire staff that I had rescinded. That was the last communication I had with anyone.

REP. FOX: Okay. So I'm sure other Committee members may have some questions on this.

But I may have some questions on, you know, why do you want to be a Superior Court Judge, because that's -- that's probably something you've been thinking about, you know --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: And -- and I --

REP. FOX: -- and you --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- certainly appreciate it,

and --

REP. FOX: And you're --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: And (inaudible) --

REP. FOX: -- probably happy to answer that.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: That's sort of in response even to your, I mean, you know, as an attorney practicing in -- in the area of Civil Rights, certainly I've been under scrutiny before, far more than, you know, the journalist Lender, and it's -- it's something to be expected. If you are going to participate in -- in matters of public concern, you simply need to make sure you operate in the confines of the law. And so that's what I thought I was doing here. I consulted with them and, you know, I just want to make that statement that while this has been something that I've scrambled for, I completely understand that this is part of the process.

REP. FOX: Okay. And now, to go beyond that to -- no. No. No. Forget about what's happened in the last week, for --


REP. FOX: -- a moment. I know that you have sought to become a Superior Court Judge for some time. What do you think you will bring to the -- to the bench?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I -- I think, although I've been an advocate so far, I think I -- my -- my loyalty is really to sort of the principles of law, fairness, equity, and justice. And I think part of what I bring is the fact that I have been representing individuals who believe that somehow they were wronged or weren't treated fairly, and so I have some insight into the, if you will, minds of the individual who -- who -- who think that they've been treated unfairly. And I think it kind of adds a certain perspective. I think I'd be able note -- negotiate cases easier because I understand what it is that you're dealing with when you have to sort of balance the discrepancy and power thing. Because oftentimes individuals, the individuals that I've represented, they usually have been facing larger power entities, either an employer, the state, a state act or a corporation, a company, some other legal fiction. And there's often a power discrepancy, and I've been sort of the balancing factor for them where either by hiring me or -- or by my appointment to represent them, they expect me to act as a voice. I think that gives me enormous perspective in terms of knowing what you're dealing with when you're dealing with individuals who inherently don't trust the system sometime. Again, I think I know -- in terms of negotiating -- how to go to space that appeals to -- to both parties. And I think if you ask around, other attorney who have been on the other side of -- I'm a fair person and I understand, you know, sort of the perspective from the, you know, people in power versus the individual who thinks that somehow the power is being used against them.

But, again, at the end of the day, I think my loyalty is to the principles of law, and not just to individuals and advocating for those individuals but for fairness equity. And -- and I sort of aspire to have a position where, you know, I can sort of meet that out in the

-- in the purest sense, you know, if I am dealing with those issues and not just with advocating for individuals one at a time.

REP. FOX: And, you may have heard me ask several other nominees about handling a G.A. courtroom, and because that's, in all likelihood, the first assignment that everyone seems to get. What do you think is important about a judge when they're in the G.A. in terms of how they -- their demeanor and how and handle the courtroom?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I think, I guess, intellectual competence, a fairness, honoring the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, and making -- making the parties feel comfortable and like they're getting -- well, they often -- they -- they might not believe they're getting a -- a -- a good deal. But making them feel like the process was fair and that their voices were heard, and at the same time honoring the fact that the state has an interest in making sure individuals are not committing crimes and harming individuals, and that you want to make sure that the public at large is protected from individuals who are committing crimes. So sort of balancing both of those interests; I think that's really what's important when you consider criminal work and -- and a criminal judge.

REP. FOX: Okay. Well, thank you, very much and --

SENATOR McDONALD: Senator Handley.

SENATOR HANDLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

And good afternoon.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Good afternoon.

SENATOR HANDLEY: We've been -- it's been a long day for you, I know. And I think one of the things that I find most interesting about your -- your candidacy and, you know, your appointment is one that I -- that I continually talk about here, and that is that it's very nice to have a broad range of people with a broad range of experiences on the bench. I think we rely very heavily on the -- on the board of prosecutors or whatever they are called to serve -- to serve on the bench. And to find people who have had other kinds of legal experience, I think, adds certainly a dimension to the understanding. So I'm, I'm very happy and very proud of the fact that you're here, Dawne.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Thank you, Senator Handley.

SENATOR McDONALD: Representative O'Neill.

REP. O'NEILL: Thank you.

Good afternoon and --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Good afternoon.

REP. O'NEILL: -- congratulations on your nomination, and --


REP. O'NEILL: -- I have a few questions. I guess I'll start out by saying that my predisposition is to want to be able to vote for you.


REP. O'NEILL: And as I read the statute, it seems to say that if you've served on that board, the Citizen's Advisory Board, then you can't be a judge. And in a little bit I'll get back to that point, but that's -- that's, at least for me, is a sticking point right now. But I have a few, sort of subsidiary questions, before we get there.

And I'm wondering when did you apply or talk to Senator Looney about being appointed to the Ethics Advisory Board?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: It was September 10th, and -- and I know that from the -- that was the date that the checklist was sent to me. And sort of the history behind that, if you will, is that I guess Senator Looney's Office reached out to the NAACP and said, you know, Hey, I'm looking to appoint someone; do you have a candidate? And that was how it came to my, are you interested in this.

REP. O'NEILL: Um-um. Okay. So you hadn't, prior to on or about September 10th, really -- this is not something that you had been thinking about doing or interested in doing?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: No, I actually wasn't that familiar with -- you know, I mean, I'd heard in general about State Ethics being sort of revamped and redone, but, no, I hadn't been involved in any of that. And I -- I didn't have a general awareness of the agency and exactly what was involved, ad that was why the checklist was sort of sent to me and why I consulted with them so much, because I didn't even know that holding or being on the Glastonbury Town Democratic Committee meant that I held a public office. And they said since someone votes for you to -- to be in it, and so --

REP. O'NEILL: Um-hum.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- no, I didn't. I didn't know that much about the agency at all.

REP. O'NEILL: Okay. And it was Senator Looney's Office that first contacted you about this idea; is that correct?


REP. O'NEILL: Okay. And they asked you if you'd be willing to serve on this board, I assume?


REP. O'NEILL: Okay. And in your letter of the

25th -- and I think you touched on this -- you said that you're unable to serve because of the statutory restrictions. And what you're talking about isn't that you couldn't serve because there was some statute that prohibited you from serving but what you really focussed on was that if you served on this board that you would be prohibited from becoming a judge; is that correct?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Yes, until 2014.

REP. O'NEILL: Right. Well or once -- once -- whatever --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Well, it's --

REP. O'NEILL: Within a year of --


REP. O'NEILL: -- the date that you --


REP. O'NEILL: -- just left. Okay. So that you were conscious of the fact that service on this board did represent a problem for appointment to the bench in the immediate future.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Yes. I had not done the research and I guess since this issue came up, I -- I do have sort of a case on -- on point that I guess I can discuss. But at the time, I didn't do the research, since after talking to them, then I sent this letter of rescission and it -- it seemed like it was done.

REP. O'NEILL: Okay. Because that brings me up to, really, to the next point which is that -- and there's a newspaper article which I think most of us have probably seen -- and in the -- in that article it's described that you did not mention any of this to the Governor's Office at the time that you were interviewed by them or any documents were forwarded to them. You never told them about this appointment to this Citizen's Advisory Board.


REP. O'NEILL: Okay. And was the -- what was -- what was the reason why you didn't?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Again, it was not -- there was no intent to deceive or mislead anyone. I sent a letter of rescission; they'd accepted it. I'd been to that one, three-and-a-half hour meeting. I honestly -- it wasn't something that was conscious in my mind that I was saying, Let me leave this information out; it might be harmful to me. I didn't consider it an issue. It was obviously open in the public. There were two press releases issued by two different senators. It was on CTN. There were minutes. But, again, I sent the letter of rescission; they'd accept it. I consulted with them. They're the very board that has jurisdiction over the issue. I -- I didn't think it was an issue.

And -- and that's probably why I didn't do some of the research and come up with the case that -- that I now know about that says, you know, basically even if you do serve, the revolving door policy is -- is directed and not mandatory. I -- I didn't even go that far because they allowed me to rescind.

REP. O'NEILL: Okay. And -- and I assume the same answer would apply to why in your opening statement there's no reference to this or no communication with any of the members of the Committee, I assume. Well, let me just ask the question: Did you speak with any members of the Committee? Sometimes judges will sit down and chat with Chairs and Ranks and other members.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Did I speak to any members of the Committee about?

REP. O'NEILL: Of the Judicial Committee about your nomination, in preparation. Sometimes judicial nominees will, in effect, do a little tour of the LLB here and chat with its --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: The only time --

REP. O'NEILL: -- different members.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- that I now have spoken to members was once this article was -- was going to --


DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- be printed. But prior to that and -- and after, you know, the January 30th, I guess the nomination from the Governor, no.

REP. O'NEILL: Okay. So -- so --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I probably -- I mean, I just hope I don't misspeak. I've probably spoken to members of this Committee on other occasions prior to actually being nominated.

REP. O'NEILL: Right.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Yes, but that's, you know --

REP. O'NEILL: But -- but that --


REP. O'NEILL: What I'm concerned about is --


REP. O'NEILL: -- did you speak with -- and that's my question; it's limited in terms of the time -- since the time that you were nominated to be a member of the -- of the bench till a day or so beforehand when the newspaper article started percolating in terms of questions, people being --


REP. O'NEILL: -- asked. And so that during that roughly 20 or so days after the nomination was made, you didn't contact -- I -- I know you didn't contact me, and so the question is: Did you talk to any other members of the Committee where you had a conversation with them and outlined your background and asked for their support or anything like that?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I didn't talk to or -- when you say "contact," I want to be careful, as well, especially now that I know, you know, the power of words here. The Governor's Office did have a process where all of the candidates were to write a letter, and that letter was to be sent out to all of the members. Now, I assumed you -- I assume you all received the letter, but --

REP. O'NEILL: Um-hum.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- I, you know, I -- I don't know. So if that's considered contact, I know that a letter was sent out saying my name is Dawne. But, no, I didn't have any conversations with anyone on the Committee about my nomination or any of that, no.

No. No member, to my knowledge, responded to the letter saying that, you know, Hey, I want to talk to you.

REP. O'NEILL: Um-hum. Yeah, I know I didn't, so, then, you know --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: That was the purpose of the letter, I understand, was to see if anyone was interested in sitting down to -- to talk.

REP. O'NEILL: Right. Okay. So and I guess you -- the thing that's a problem for me is to, just to deal with the, what appears to me, in spite of the letter to rescind, at least on the face of it, that you were on this board, took the oath, voted a couple of times, even if it was just a procedural matter. You're mentioned in the minutes as being a member. And I'm assuming these minutes were ratified at the October meeting about a month later, and so it's not like you're completely deleted from the records here as if you never were there. It's just that, you know, based on the way these minutes set up, it looks and feels like you were a member of this board. You're treated that way. You're mentioned in that way. And then you're -- and you're one of the nine people who is reported to have voted unanimously, nine-to-zero, on different things, and that you're one of those nine people. So what I -- what I need to hear is how do I get around that.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Well, because I can't disagree with any of that, and I said that to you in the -- in the narrative.

But I -- I guess there are a few issues. First of all, the revolving door policy, the

-- the question here falls under the jurisdiction of the Office of State Ethics, the very agency that I talked to. It's -- well, there's another decision and -- and I believe that you all have a copy of that decision in the packet, and that's the Mengacci decision. It's an Attorney General's opinion where an individual whose -- here is accused of a pretty much far more egregious activity than I am, of actually, I guess, serving on the Judicial Selection Commission and coming -- or being nominated to be a judge within -- within the 24 months, I guess at the 22-month mark.

I guess there's a rule that you shouldn't be nominated within 24 months; he was nominated within 22 months. It looks like the Senate Pro Temp at the time, Kevin Sullivan, asked the Attorney General for opinion about the revolving door policy and whether or not this individual really was eligible. And the Attorney General basically opined that the prohibition of the revolving door policy is directed and not mandatory and that legislators have the discretion to decide whether or not they want to appoint an individual.

But I -- I think one thing that distinguishes my situation with this individual's is that this fell directly under the Judicial Statutes, under, and I think it's Chapter 51. This was about judicial selection. This person actually served on Judicial Selection for a significant amount of time, and it's my understanding that he was possibly even the Chair at one point.

What's different in my situation is that the statute in question falls under the jurisdiction of the Office of State Ethics, that if someone were to say that I violated the revolving door policy, that State Ethics would be the -- the agency to take that up. The very agency that I consulted with before I sent the letter of rescission, I believe. So -- so I guess that's -- that's number one.

But I guess number two is that even if you do believe that you have jurisdiction over this matter and that it's within -- that -- that you are to take up the revolving door issue, there's an Attorney General's opinion right on point that says that the revolving door policy is directed and not mandatory. And I'm telling you that I served -- if you want to call it served -- for three-and-a-half hours on a Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board without the knowledge that it would affect my ability to become a judge. And, again, it was an -- this wasn't a paying job. Again, I had an altruistic desire to serve the State of Connecticut and the citizens of Connecticut, and I think that my background and other things have been consistent with that.

This wasn't -- this wasn't about money. I've given up a paying job. I was absolutely unaware of this -- this statutory restriction that said. And, you know, to my own credit, and, you know, I guess I -- that this is one of those times when I have to sit here and toot my own horn -- I am glad I read this binder as soon as I did and that I did not wait until the next meeting and that I kept the e-mails that I have that indicated that as soon as -- as soon as I knew that I had to talk to someone and attempted to deal with it and consulted with them. But I think you get around it because there's an Attorney General's opinion that indicates that the revolving door policy is a directive and not mandatory. I mean, at the end of the day, that's -- that's the short answer (inaudible), although it was long.

REP. O'NEILL: Okay. Well, it seems to me that you're putting forward two, two basic arguments, and one of them is based on the Attorney General. And it's -- am I'm glad you got a second one, because I disagreed with that opinion when he did it, not so much the mandatory versus directory but whether or not there was a triggering event of the application, itself, was equivalent to consideration by the Commission, when this all happened --


REP. O'NEILL: -- five years, four-and-a-half years ago.

The problem with the Mengacci case, if you want to call it that, is that his nomination ended up in ashes on the Senate -- floor of the Senate, so that the end result may not be what you are hoping for here if we follow that precedent to its logical conclusion.

But what -- but the other part of it is that there's -- that in your communications with the Commission, you were led to believe that they, in effect, were accepting and ratifying and that from their perspective, that this wouldn't be a problem because you -- I -- did you -- when you communicated, did you say, Look, I want to become a judge, maybe, or get appointed to some other position in the near future; I don't want to be barred from doing that because I'm on this Commission?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Did I communicate that in my -- oh, yeah.


DAWNE WESTBROOK: Absolutely. That was what I called about on that Monday, September the 29th. Yeah, I completely and fully disclosed, like, here's my issue, am I reading this right? Since they had done the research about whether I could work at Manchester Community College -- I mean I actually had to fax the contract; they had to see that I had an Employee Identification Number. Did I fill out -- I mean, I was asked, questioned --

REP. O'NEILL: Um-hum.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- and they actually looked at some of their own opinions. So this was another time when I was thinking maybe I don't know everything, you know, in terms of yeah, I read this. Maybe there's some exception. There may be, you know, there's some -- you know, so that's why I called them and said let me ask them before I -- you know, my knee-jerk reaction was like I've -- I've got to get out of this as soon as possible.

REP. O'NEILL: Okay. I -- I think that, as you say, I mean, this particular statute is one that's subject to the control of the Ethics Commissioners. It's their statute and their agencies are deemed to have some special expertise and understanding how to apply these statutes and what they're -- and how they are meant to work, and that sort of thing. So I think that that helps me some. I'm not sure I've reached a final conclusion here.

There is one problem with that argument, and I'm not sure how I'm going to resolve it, and that is that the statutes that deal with it, and, for example, the Commission in the Mengacci case basically said, We don't consider this to be a -- we don't have that before us, but I distinctly remember getting a letter from the Judicial Selection Commission saying we don't consider it to be an application to be equivalent to consideration. And that ignored by the Attorney General, as I recollect. I might be wrong. It's been five years and it's probably a bad idea to go on that kind of memory without looking things up. So they, themselves, said, We don't consider it consideration, and that was --


REP. O'NEILL: -- in fact, I think a big piece of my decision at that time to feel that the Attorney General was incorrect in his analysis that even though he got to that mandatory directory part, which I think is helpful to you, but still that the agencies that are charged with these things should be given a fair amount of deference. And if it sounds like this agency was saying that you were okay, that this was going to unscramble the egg here and that you'd be okay to go forward to a position because you were doing this resignation, this was how to deal with the problem, that that would carry a fair amount of weight for me.

It's interesting because there's another statute that says legislators, after they take the oath of office, cannot be appointed to any executive or judicial position, and I'm not sure but I don't think that I could just rescind my oath of office at this stage if the Governor called up and said, Gee, we'd like to appoint you to be a judge or something like that. I think I'd have a tough time doing that. But then, again, maybe the members of this Committee would vote to (inaudible) --


REP. O'NEILL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Well, we could -- can I sort of respond? You know, if you attempted to do that, and I understand you're a long-standing member or have been on this Committee for some time, I guess the definition of service is what becomes important. Again, it was a three-and-a-half hour meeting, and so if you

-- if what you're saying to me is that it would be helpful if the Office of State Ethics sort of opined an opinion about whether or not they considered, you know, me having served or whether they were accepting the rescission or whether or not they thought that the revolving door policy had been violated, then, you know, that's certainly an issue that I am willing to take up with them, you know, to the extent that, as you said, you know, you're -- you're trying to figuring out how do you get around this and how do you get there.

REP. O'NEILL: Well, I think that based on these

e-mails and your conversations with them, it seems like they certainly were leaving you with the distinct impression -- and I'm trying to put myself in your shoes to understand how I would have viewed their response -- that it was beginning to -- it certainly was a -- reassuring to have the very agency that's supposed to enforce the ethics law saying, in effect here's how you deal with this problem, not that it's too bad, you're out --


REP. O'NEILL: -- of luck.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Just a quick question: Under the enabling legislation that allowed for this appointment, it says that the selection by the Majority Leader of the Senate, the Majority Leader of the House shall be selected from a list of nominees proposed by a citizen group having an interest in ethical government. Do you know if there was a list provided or how Senator Looney came to have your name to submit?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I do know how he came to have my name; I'm not sure whether I was on a list. My understanding is that he contacted the NAACP and asked, Hey, do you have anybody who might be willing to serve?

SENATOR McDONALD: And to your knowledge, that's how --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- Senator Looney came to have your name?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Correct. I -- I -- I didn't know Senator Looney outside of this, had never met him or didn't know him at all before this (inaudible).

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. Thank you, very much.

Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL: Thank you, very much,

Mr. Chairman.

I've been sort of quiet all day, observing, and I wasn't intending to speak. But one of the classes that I really enjoyed taking back as an undergraduate was English Constitutional History, and I enjoyed reading about the Courts Of Chancery. And, you know, we have our court system now, but I think it's a balance between law and equity. And somewhere in the back of my mind from law school, I recall decisions that the slavish adherence to the letter of the law, if it -- drawn to its conclusion if it would work a great injustice, that the Courts have that ability to exercise some equity. I look at your résumé and your background, and I think you'd be an outstanding jurist.

And we are constantly looking to diversify our bench. I think someone with your credentials would be a tremendous asset. And, indeed, folks of color, whether African American or Latino, we have a very difficult time finding outstanding candidates because folks are gobbled up by industry, all the other agencies and departments, and to be frank, with your background, folks can earn an awful lot of money in other areas. It's not to say that someone's who's a white, Caucasian guy that's, like, 60-years-old can't be an outstanding judge either.

I look at this case and it strikes me that if we take it to its proper conclusion, that we would at least for several months -- and who knows what the fates would have as far as your career -- that we would be losing out, that the people of the State of Connecticut would be losing out. I think much of our

decision-making regarding this will be driven by what the Attorney General concludes, and you should have that information, in speaking with Chairman McDonald, in a few days. I would be surprised if it doesn't conclude that we have an ability to vote on your nomination.

It strikes me as something that -- that, that three-and-a-half hours, you did everything humanly possible to make it void ab initio. I guess we're all as citizens presumed to know all the laws, and someone that comes before a judge -- and God willing that'll be you some day (inaudible) year term, not longer -- they will not be able to use I didn't know as an excuse.

But at the same time, in the 25 years I've been an attorney, I've seen many, many a time where a judge in weighing all the factors would reach down into that equity side and come up with a fair solution. To penalize you after you gave up a paying job, you gave up your rights as a member of your Democratic Town Committee, and you're given this binder with all of this information and upon reading it you immediately discover, Oh, my gosh, this is going to ruin my dream, you did everything that I think any human being can do to have a do-over. And I don't think that it would work an injustice on anyone if we allowed you to move forward.

So I'm hoping that the Attorney General reaches that conclusion as well, but I just felt that it was important for me to state that to you. Believe it --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I appreciate --

SENATOR KISSEL: -- or not --


SENATOR KISSEL: -- once -- once upon a time, I was in a very similar situation and the stakes were much less. But I was a member of an organization and I interested in competing for an award. And because I had accepted a position that carried with it very little value, just to fill out the President's, quote, unquote, award, it would have foreclosed me from being able to compete for that award. And so I had a similar situation where I said, Oh, no, what did I get myself into; how can I reverse this? And in that instance, the board met and they reversed it, and I was lucky enough to win in that competition. So I hear where you're coming from. The stakes are much, much greater, but I don't, at the end of the day, want to lose you as a jurist for the people in the State of Connecticut. And I'm hoping the Attorney General's decision allows us to make that decision.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I appreciate your comments.

SENATOR KISSEL: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SENATOR McDONALD: Representative Hewett.

REP. HEWETT: I, too, want to reiterate what my colleague has just said. It would be a travesty if we lost this nomination.

First of all, I want to disagree with my other colleague -- but he left the room -- when he was talking about -- was it Mengacci? Have I got -- did I get that right? Mengacci case. It might have died in the Senate but it was ruled upon. That's what I'm interested in. I'm not interested in where it died at. If it was -- if it died before it was ruled on, then I'd have a problem. But it was ruled on first. He made a decision and it's right here in front of us.

The next question I want to ask you is: When you are on the judge's list to become a judge -- now maybe you can answer this maybe you can't answer this -- is that public knowledge of who is on that list?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: No, it's not. No. The Judicial Selection Commission makes their decision and, as far as I know, the Governor is probably the only person who has access. But I, you know, I don't know who in the Governor's Office has access to the information, but it's my understanding that the Governor is forwarded a copy of the letter that you're forwarded, along with the application that was submitted to Judicial Selection. But, no, it's not public information.

REP. HEWETT: Because if it would have been public knowledge, I think we would actually get it a lot quicker than we do. I mean sometimes, what? We get it a week before or two or three days before? So it's not public knowledge.

And with all due respect to Senator Looney, he's been up here a long time and he knows the law. If he would have had a list to go by, okay, I'm gonna make a nomination for the Ethics Board; now I need to cross reference this list, my nomination with who's on this list. He had nothing to go -- I didn't even

-- and then probably nobody in this room knows all these statutes. I mean, we'd like to say that we do, and you can probably say that you do, but you don't. We don't know all these statutes. If we did, we probably wouldn't be in the Connecticut General Assembly; I could promise you that. Okay? So if we had a list to cross reference this stuff by, then he would have never made that nomination. I don't believe he would have nominated you

for --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I don't either.

REP. HEWETT: -- a Ethics Board if he knew this was going to come back and bite all of us.



DAWNE WESTBROOK: I don't think he would have.

REP. HEWETT: -- that -- that's right. And he's not crazy. And I think --

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you for clarifying that. I'll let him know you said that.

REP. HEWETT: And -- and I think that the statutes is one thing but the legislative process is another. And so the decision that we have to make, this is not something that's written in stone, it's something that we have to judge. And I think if you would have known and you had to make the decision between being on an Ethics Board and being a judge in the State of Connecticut, I think you would have picked the second.

One last thing I want to -- no, that was it.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Can I -- I can just say that (inaudible) --

REP. HEWETT: You sure can.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: That I think Mr. Linder is in the room and perhaps if we had his investigators, we might have known that being on the Judicial Selection list might have been a conflict in this, because certainly the reporter was aware of the issue.

REP. HEWETT: Exactly. And, you know, I got a lot of respect for reporters. They -- they do what they do.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Yeah, they do.

REP. HEWETT: And, you know, you just got to know when to use em and when not to. Thank you, so much.

SENATOR McDONALD: Representative Gonzalez.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Good afternoon.

REP. GONZALEZ: Hello, and good afternoon. How are you?


REP. GONZALEZ: It's a long day for you; huh?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: It's a long day for me but I'm okay.

REP. GONZALEZ: Well, I don't have a question I have a comment. And my comment is that I spoke with you this morning, and when I heard of what happened, I said to myself, you know, what is wrong is wrong. It doesn't matter who. It doesn't matter if it's a Latino, an African American, no, this doesn't matter. And -- and people knows me that I'm like that. I know that sometimes I made mistakes, but my reaction when I heard what was going on, I said to myself, as I said, I'm not -- I'm not supporting her because I don't think that it was right. That was a clear understanding between you and me when I told you this morning.

But then after, you know, all -- during all the day, I think that the hall, the conversation out there is, I think, is your situation, so you're very important today. It's all there, very popular. And when I heard, you know, what really is behind all of this, I did, I changed my mind, because I think it's a whole story behind all of this. And what I say what is fair is fair, it doesn't matter who the person, the color, it doesn't matter; what is fair is fair.

And I really -- I -- I came here a couple times, I don't know how many times, in and out, in and out, when you're still there in the chair, sitting on that hot chair. And I feel -- so, myself, I think that with all of this going on and all, you know, all those questions and all that, I think that you deserve that chair. So congratulations. And thank you for being here all day.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I really appreciate that, and I appreciate your comments about voting along color lines, so to speak. And there's no expectation on my part that, you know, because this is not a race issue. So I appreciate your comments and I respected the comment that you made to me that you weren't going to just vote for me because I was a person of color. And you shouldn't.

REP. GONZALEZ: Thank you understanding.

SENATOR McDONALD: Are there other questions?

Representative Green.

REP. GREEN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Good afternoon.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Good afternoon, Representative Green.

REP. GREEN: Just one or two questions about the situation with the Ethics, and then I have other questions. When you were asked to be on the Ethics Committee, it appeared that it came from Senator Looney's Office. Did he actually have a conversation with you more than just saying, Are you interested? Did he ask you any questions about your experience, your interest in ethics; what was that like?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: No. My recollection is that he contacted the President, the State Conference President of the NAACP -- and that's Scot Esdaile -- and asked him if he had a candidate that would be suitable -- suitable for State Ethics. Scot e-mailed me and asked me was I interested, and I think I might have said. What's involved? And that was when -- for the checklist was sent to me. And I was asked for a copy of my résumé. But, no, I never had -- I never had a conversation with him -- I don't want to misspeak. I think I had a conversation, perhaps, with Senator Looney at the point which he decided that he was -- he was going to ask me, after he had my résumé and I was sent the checklist. And I think I had a conversation with him very briefly where he says, you know, that he was going to appoint me. But that -- that was -- I wasn't questioned, though.

REP. GREEN: All right. In that conversation -- and it -- and it sounded like it was not like a long conversation -- one of the things we do here at the Judiciary Committee, especially for people, for nominations and renominations is we ask this general question: Is there anything we should know that might embarrass you or the state or whatever in this position. And in that short conversation, was a -- was a statement asked of you whether or not he should know anything that --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: No, absolutely not. My recollection was that I'm -- I'm glad you're

-- you're -- I'm glad you're going to accept this and I'm -- I'm going to be nominating, and, you know, thank you very much for agreeing. It was -- it was one of those kinds of informing me that he was going to be making this nomination appointment. But, no, I wasn't. I wasn't questioned or anything.

REP. GREEN: Okay. In this package that I think I have there in front of me, there's a letter from the Office of State Ethics, and it sort of says, In accordance with General Statute's 1-80b, and it lists all the things that will

-- that you must do to meet the qualifications.


REP. GREEN: Where did -- did you receive that?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: This, it was -- yes. This was --


DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- the initial checklist that was e-mailed to me that purported to be the requirements for being able to serve on the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board. And, again, I was then asked for a résumé. After they reviewed my résumé, they questioned me about the Glastonbury Town Democratic Committee. I said, Okay, I'm willing to resign from that. And then I believe this nomination was made, and it was after that then that the Office of State Ethics -- and there's an e-mail regarding that -- said, you know, your service on the Statewide Grievance Committee and your part-time teaching position at Manchester Community College might also be an issue, but let us do some research and get back to you.

REP. GREEN: Okay. This -- you mention in your application here for judicial nomination, there's a -- you also served on the State of Connecticut Public Service and Trust Commission.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: That's correct.

REP. GREEN: What is that?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: That's a -- a -- Chief Justice Chase Rogers created the Public Service and Trust Commission, I believe, in 2007. Sometime after her appointment, she's concerned about restoring the public trust in the Judicial Branch, in transparency and in sort of what the -- the issues are. It was a very large undertaking. I was initially on the seven-member steering committee. And out of the seven-member steering committee grew the actual Public Service and Trust Commission, which I think there are probably 40-some-odd members.

What -- what we did was created, I guess it's sort of a strategic plan, a five-year plan about how to improve the Judicial Branch. And the process for doing that has been very involved. Some of the things that have been done were focus groups held around the state. Focus groups have included advocacy groups, citizen's groups, all different kinds of groups where you kind of get the issue -- there's a process we use to sort of get the issues out there. What are the concerns over the next five years that individuals are going to have with the Judicial Branch? So we did that. I think there was a survey on-line.

There were two Public Hearings held at the different ends of the state to sort of determine what some of the -- the issues might be for individuals who -- who use the Judicial Branch.

And based on that information, we've created a strategic plan, that it's based on sort of -- I think there are five different, major categories. Committees were then formed around each of those categories that -- that were created, and the committees came up with sort of action plans, things that they were actually going to do to improve the Judicial Branch based on the information that was gathered in the sort of information-gathering process.

The undertaking really has been headed up by Judicial Branch employees and -- and that would be Melissa Farley, Joseph Disipio. The Chief Court Administrator has been involved, and that would be Judge Barbara Quinn, Judge Patrick Carroll, as well. Judge Schmitt is also on -- on the steering committee.

And then after we created the five committees, subcommittees resolving around the -- the different action plans were created to sort of say how you make the action plan work. And --

REP. GREEN: And the --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- so I'm on the subcommittee. I'm -- I was on one of the committees, and I was on -- I'm on the commission. And I was on the steering committee.

REP. GREEN: Let me ask you this: On the Connecticut, the State of Connecticut Public Service and Trust Committee and the Statewide Grievance, your involvement with those committees would not have prevented you from being nominated as a judge? Because, I mean, I just don't want to hear that appointments on others, so I'm just trying to be clear --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: You -- you --

REP. GREEN: -- on whether or not we --


REP. GREEN: -- did we do any research on that end. I'm not saying --


REP. GREEN: -- you should have.


REP. GREEN: I just --


REP. GREEN: I just --


REP. GREEN: -- don't want to be --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: And I'll -- I'll say that --


DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- I was on the Public Service and Trust Commission prior to going through the judicial selection process.


DAWNE WESTBROOK: So they -- they actually knew about that. Statewide Grievance? No. I -- there -- there are other individuals who actually have been appointed to be judges who -- who sat on the Statewide Grievance Committee. I think it's, quite frankly, probably consistent with judicial service. So I don't know what kind of conflict one can come up with, but no, there's, as far as I know. And, again, with Statewide Grievance, I was handed one of these binders; I read it. No, there's -- there's nothing that I'm aware of that prohibits you from being.

REP. GREEN: I think you do good. You -- you read. We get a lot of binders. I don't know if many of us read em in a day, so --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: This one, I was happy I read --

REP. GREEN: -- that's great.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- (inaudible).

REP. GREEN: And I think we're happy you read it also. I think you remind us.

So can you just tell me, when did you apply to be -- to the Judicial Selection Committee to be a judge?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: It was sometime, I think early in 2007. And I'll tell ya, I know that I was interviewed in September of 2007 and that I received a letter shortly thereafter. My recollection was that I sent the application in, earlier in 2007, but one individual did not send their letter of recommendation back which sort of keeps the -- the Judicial Selection from -- from even considering your application. So --

REP. GREEN: So they don't consider it until they have every piece --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: They don't consider --

REP. GREEN: -- down to the --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- until they have --

REP. GREEN: -- last page?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Yes, absolutely.

REP. GREEN: And just a couple of questions then about, maybe some thought about if I were to

-- if we were to appoint you as a judge. Again, you -- it didn't seem like, at least in the last five years, that you've been involved in some criminal cases. Have you had experience in criminal court?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Oh, absolutely. In the last five years and -- and maybe I kind of used some of the legal, technical language when I said that I've been a Special Public Defender. You know, as -- as -- as you're probably aware, the Public Defender's Office has a Special Public Defender's Unit where cases that the Public Defenders' Office is -- is conflicted in, they appoint private attorneys who have a contract with the Office of the Special Public Defender. So I had the contract. Early on I had one in Meriden and New Haven. Last year I had one in Hartford and Middletown, and in the recent past here I had one in Middletown and Manchester. And I didn't -- I didn't do Hartford, so yes.

And -- and, you know, I'm not heavily involved in -- in doing criminal work. It's what you call “Part B” work, in -- in general, so I, you know, I can't purport to be a Part A criminal attorney. It's kind of the -- the -- the hustle and bustle of, like -- I notice you brought this up before -- plea bargaining and negotiating, so mainly Part B criminal work and through Special Public Defender Contracts, and I've had private clients, you know, where I've done some criminal cases.

REP. GREEN: I'm always interested these days in whether or not you have the notice, the demeanor of judges in your work in the court system, and how comfortable do you feel or did you ever feel that you needed to express some concern about the behavior of a judge? Have you seen it? Did you feel like you need to express it in any manner, and would you have been comfortable in doing so?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: All right. Okay, so it's sort of a several-part question. I mean, I have to say, just as a sort of blanket response, is that most of the judges that I've dealt with, I've actually had a pretty good relationship with, and I've respected them and I've found them to have a very good demeanor and to be quite fair. But I guess to the question of if I did observe, I guess what -- what would I -- I do?


DAWNE WESTBROOK: I guess it's difficult to say since I've never really been put in that position. You do receive, if you attend -- or not attend -- if you are counsel on a hearing over a certain period of time, you do receive a form that you can fill out where -- and it's anonymous -- and you can say what you think the judge's character is. And -- and I have to quite frankly say I don't usually send that form back. I don't know how many attorneys do, but if I were going to ever consider sending the form back, I guess it probably would be if I felt uncomfortable with the way a judge behaved. But I've never actually been in that position.

REP. GREEN: Have you had any thought on whether or not 16 or 17-year-olds should be tried as adults or in the Juvenile Court?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: And I -- I guess you know the purpose of the criminal justice system is -- is generally twofold; you know, to punish and to rehabilitate. And when you're dealing with -- with young people, with youth -- and we're talking 16 and 17-year-olds here -- then I certainly think that to the extent that they can be rehabilitated, we need to try as hard as we can to make sure that occurs. So, you know, I would probably err on the side of yes, let's take 17 -- 16 and 17-year-olds and treat them as youths and attempt to rehabilitate them. Because at the end of the day, delinquency cases, which is generally what you refer to criminal cases, of -- of youths under the age of 16, the -- the goal is really to rehabilitate the child.

There are a number of services that -- both nonprofit and within the -- the -- I'm not sure if it's within the Judicial Branch, but agencies -- services that you attempt to sort of provide to the child, including DCF services. So 16 and 17-year-olds, I would still say that, you know, we're in rehabilitative mode and to the extent that they can be rehabilitated, than yeah, we would want them in a 16 and 17-year-old court instead of an adult court where maybe we've lost the faith that an individual can be rehabilitated because of the, you know, the offenses; is it multiple offenses and -- and other factors.

REP. GREEN: One last question: If you were sitting on a bench, how might you tell me your style would be and your personality as a judge?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: How would I tell you my style would be? I think -- I think even in representing individuals, as I have, I'm generally fair and I -- I tend to sort of see, I guess, the big picture. And I tend to sort of even understand where the other side is coming from. I'm not -- I'm not an advocate who necessarily has a self-interest in, you know, the -- the reason why I'm advocating for individuals is not always because I think that their -- their position is -- is the right position. So I think that I would bring that to -- to the bench where I want to hear both sides, and then I want to understand and figure out what happened and what's believable and what the evidence shows.

I think that I would treat all persons with respect, again, having a background where I've represented individuals what generally have thought that they've been wronged, because either their children have been taken away from them, they've been charged with crimes or they've lost their job. Coming from that background, knowing sometimes that those same individuals don't believe that they're being treated fairly for one reason or -- or another, coming from that background, I sort of have some insight into how it feels. And I've -- I've watched, you know, throughout the years with my own clients, sort of the enormous emotional burden that seems to come with either a legal action being imposed on you or with a feeling like, that you were violated. So I know kind of what they're going through.

But, at the same time, dealing with -- with the same individuals, I know that there are sometimes issues of accountability. There are issues of a perception, a perception of unfairness when, in fact, you know, some -- some individuals have brought things upon themselves. So I guess having that insight, I -- I sort of bring that perspective to watching everything that's going on and considering all the different factors.

And, you know, quite frankly, I -- I sometimes think that there is probably a misconception about individuals who do Civil Rights work, that they would tend to be very lenient on individuals when I think, in fact, I probably would have less guilt about making decisions about individuals because I've dealt with individuals for so long and I'm very familiar with the -- the personalities that come with that. But, I think, again at the end of the day, it's -- it's a balance, and I would -- I think I have a perspective where I can see -- I can see things fairly.

REP. GREEN: Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.


Representative Morris.

REP. MORRIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good afternoon.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Good afternoon, Representative Morris.

REP. MORRIS: And, again, congratulations to you on your nomination. If I can echo the words of Senator Kissel and many others that are here today, looking at your résumé, everything, you are certainly eminently qualified for the position which you've been nominated.


REP. MORRIS: That being said, and because the Attorney General is looking to render an opinion in regard to your selection, as best you can, can you tell us, can you conceive of any reason that you would -- that opinion on you would be differentiated, there'd be any difference, you know, an opinion with you based on your situation when, as I heard you today, the basic differences I've heard between your situation and the one where they opined with Mengacci is that you consider whether yours was service or not -- we'll play with that word or not -- where three hours or someone's 22 months -- because I -- I've got that time line correct; right? About 22 months --


REP. MORRIS: -- was the case for the other piece. The other difference that I heard is that Mengacci, there was -- it was basically a Judicial Selection Commission that he was on for 22 months, which clearly would seem to have some type of conflict, I would think, with them being named as a judge later as opposed to what I'm hearing from you; yours is a situation where this is the Ethics Commission, the watchdog that would determine whether you did something unethical or not.

And then, lastly, the only other thing that I see as a difference in -- and I'm to the question -- is do you see if anything else will be a difference? The last thing I see as a difference -- and I won't be very specific

-- but there is a very obvious physical differences between you and Mr. Mengacci.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Okay. So, I guess your basic question, though, is do I see any difference in Mr. Mengacci's case and my case. And I -- I guess to that, that I would respond that -- and I'm -- I'm not the Attorney General and I don't want to step on any toes here -- but I would -- it would appear to me that the -- the allegations against Mr. Mengacci were far more egregious than the allegations against me serving for one day on the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board when this individual, I understand, served for a number of years on the Judicial Selection Commission and even served as Chair.

The other difference in my opinion would be that the jurisdiction on my matter would fall under the purview of the Office of State Ethics, the very agency that I consulted with in sending this letter of rescission and the very agency that's fully aware of any participation that I had in any meeting, but that they would have jurisdiction over saying that I violated the revolving door statute. Whereas in the Mengacci matter, it appears that it's written in the Judicial Statute, which is, I think, is a, you know, is a

Title 51, which is, I guess, directly. And so to the extent that if, you know, I even were to concede that -- that it's -- it appears that I served, and I think that's still a whole 'nother issue, I think --

REP. MORRIS: So if I --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- it's (inaudible) --

REP. MORRIS: -- can help you there. So if I can help and work with that then, because what I'm trying to drive at, we understand that decision because we have it in front of us.


REP. MORRIS: And the differences that I -- I enumerated, I outlined that I heard --


REP. MORRIS: -- from you -- and I thank you for reiterating them --


REP. MORRIS: -- would that suggest certainly a position that this -- and then I'm going to deal with the other issue that had to do with whether it's a mandated or directive: okay? But just dealing --


REP. MORRIS: -- with those aspects --


REP. MORRIS: -- would it be your position that that would be a good basis for a favorable decision, whereas his was not favorable in those regards, to those -- to those three issues?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: And are you saying Mengacci's was not favorable?

REP. MORRIS: Yeah, just in regard to those three. And it'd be -- and my understandings have got to whether it's a directive or a mandate, and we're --


REP. MORRIS: -- very clear --


REP. MORRIS: -- that it's --


REP. MORRIS: It's a directive --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: But (inaudible) --

REP. MORRIS: -- it's not a mandate, so that's what makes it overall a favorable decision.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Right. Yeah, I was gonna --


DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- say it was another --


DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- a, completely a different issue --


DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- and I understand -- that caused Mr. Mengacci not to -- to be appointed.


DAWNE WESTBROOK: So -- so, yes. I think I've outlined sort of the major differences that I see; that, again, yes, I think that it would be a favorable decision. But, again, I'm not the Attorney General --


DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- and I don't want to go stepping on any toes.

REP. MORRIS: So then they -- so then now let's move to us, because that -- let's get to the second part of the decision which had to do with the fact that the Attorney General made it clear that this was a directive, it's not mandatory. Could you conceive of any reason why the Legislature can help us, you know, should consider any -- consider anything differently? In other words, understanding the facts that happened in that case, is there anything that you know of, of the way that you handled this situation that should -- that we should consider: You know what, it may not be a good thing for you but you should consider this differently because I did this poorly or did that poorly, or you know what, I actually did these things better and therefore you should, you know, you should treat it the same way?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I guess good, bad, or indifferent, I disclosed all the fact -- as much detail as I could about how I came to be on the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board, what I did once I made the discovery, who I spoke with. I provided as many documents as I had in my possession. I guess I can't control how it seems; I can simply rely on the facts that there aren't any other factors that indicate that I would somehow mislead you about what -- what happened here. So if you -- I mean it rests in your hands. I -- I'm --


DAWNE WESTBROOK: I'm simply disclosing what happened here.

REP. MORRIS: And the conclusion, at least at this Committee level with Mr. Mengacci's, the disposition of how things are handled, he ultimately came before the Judiciary Committee and he was at least confirmed or voted upon positively --


REP. MORRIS: -- within the Judicial Committee.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: That's -- that's my understanding.

REP. MORRIS: Thank you, Represent -- Representative; he does so many things.

Miss Westbrook, again, congratulations on your nomination. I certainly don't see any reason why you should be treated any -- in -- in any other way, adversely, than what Mr. Mengacci was --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I appreciate that.

REP. MORRIS: -- for all, quite frankly, for all the reasons that are given here. Certainly we heard -- we've heard a lot of questions that were given to not only you but other member -- other nominees of color that have come forward today in concern whether you would give a specific bias or whatever. But I meant what I said when I started my comments about you, you are eminently qualified; it had nothing to do with color or anything else. You have a record thus far that is certainly impressive, and I think you'll do wonderful things here in the State of Connecticut.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Appreciate that.

SENATOR McDONALD: Are there other questions?

Senator Gomes.

SENATOR GOMES: I don't have a lot -- any questions, I just wanted to congratulate you for being here. And I wanted to say this hearing here has served as a means of showing how transparent the -- transparent the situation has been, and it's clarified a lot of things that some people needed to hear. And I welcome you, and congratulations. And I hope --


SENATOR GOMES: -- that you have a good career. Thank you.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I appreciate that, Senate Gomes.

SENATOR McDONALD: Are there any other questions?

Representative Hamzy.

REP. HAMZY: Thanks, Chairman.

Good afternoon --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Good afternoon --

REP. HAMZY: -- Attorney Westbrook.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- Representative.

REP. HAMZY: I want to preface my questions by saying that I think you're -- from everything I read about you, from everything I've heard and the answers you've given this afternoon --appear to be well qualified to be a nominee to the Superior Court. I do have some questions, and I apologize, I was in another meeting, so if some of these questions were asked previously, I want to apologize in advance.

When did you apply to Judicial Selection?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Sometime in early 2007.

REP. HAMZY: Okay. And when were you appointed to the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: September 25, 2008.

REP. HAMZY: And when were you sworn in?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: September 25, 2008.

REP. HAMZY: So you were -- you were appointed and confirmed and sworn in on the same day?


REP. HAMZY: How much --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: As far as I know. I don't know that I had a separate appointment date. I -- I think I -- I don't know if you were here earlier when I sort of went through the chronology of what happened. I was contacted by Senate Looney's Office, around

September 10, 2008. I was sent a checklist of the qualifications. I communicated with the Office of State Ethics about some of those qualifications, made changes in my life based on the -- the qualifications, because I was interested in serving. A press release, I recall, was sent out on September 18th or 19th, but I did not go to a meeting and wasn't sworn in, and -- and my understanding is that I was not officially appointed until I -- I was sworn in and -- and took the oath of office.

REP. HAMZY: Okay. I'm not familiar with -- I didn't know if those positions were subject to approval by the Legislature and then -- and then, you know, nominated --


REP. HAMZY: Nominations made by the Governor, approval by the Legislature, and then appointments --


REP. HAMZY: -- on confirmed.


REP. HAMZY: So it's just a direct appointment?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Direct appointment.


DAWNE WESTBROOK: As far as I know, um-hum.

REP. HAMZY: Okay. And I'm assuming you didn't read the statute prior to trying to be, being appointed.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: What I testified to earlier is that I was provided with this -- with a checklist that purports to be in accordance with General Statute 1-80b, and it sets out the qualifications. I didn't read anything other than that, no.

REP. HAMZY: And when did you -- when did you learn that you may have a conflict serving on this board with potentially being nominated to the bench.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I -- at the September 25, 2008 meeting, I was handed this binder, and this binder has in it everything that I supposedly needed to know about serving on the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board. I began reading the binder that evening and into the following day. So I learned -- I learned either on Thursday or Friday -- under Tab, I think it's 9 -- that there was a 2006 amendment that -- that -- that indicates that no member of the board may hold a position, and it included a Superior -- Judge of the Superior Court.

REP. HAMZY: And shortly thereafter you wrote your letter of rescission.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Yeah. I don't know if you have the packet of information.





REP. HAMZY: It was dated September 25th.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Correct. But before that I contacted the Office of State Ethics, and there's an e-mail on the 26th where I told them that I'd reviewed the -- the manual and I wanted -- I had some questions and I needed to speak to them -- to them as soon as possible.

REP. HAMZY: And you -- it's your -- your opinion or your -- your thought that the letter of rescission that you sent extinguished your service on the board?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: It meant that I had rescinded my acceptance of the appointment. So when you say "extinguished" my -- I mean your, those are your words. I --


DAWNE WESTBROOK: I don't know how --

REP. HAMZY: It's probably not the right --


REP. HAMZY: -- the best word or the terms --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Same effect, I think but --

REP. HAMZY: But the effect -- the effect in your mind, I just ask you, is -- is if -- as if you had never served on the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board.


REP. HAMZY: And one of the things that I'm struggling with is the Statute 1-80b, sub L. Unlike a lot of other statutes, it's pretty clear on its face that it prohibits service or prohibits a person who has served on the board from holding any other position in state employment for a period of a year, and it actually is explicit and includes service as a Judge of the Superior Court.


REP. HAMZY: And it's your position that you did not serve on the board because of your, the letter that you had sent in; correct?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: It's my position that I rescinded my acceptance of the appointment, so I -- I guess it's the same effect of -- as what you said that, yes, I didn't serve.

REP. HAMZY: If that's the case, how would you define service?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Well, I guess just before I give a definition of service, if I could be clear that I don't know that my definition of service would be the controlling one. I had consulted with the agency that has jurisdiction over this issue before I sent the letter of rescission. So I would hope that the controlling definition of service would be something that they would define. I just -- as I sit here today, I have not looked up and don't have any case law on what the meaning of service is, but I went to a three-and-a-half hour meeting and I was handed the information about what I was getting involved in during that meeting. I read it afterwards, in due diligence. I made this discovery. I consulted with the agency, and this was what I determined to do. That's -- that's the best that -- that I can tell you. I'm not trying to be wise by doing a rescission; it was something I consulted with them about.

And, respectfully, if you -- if you determine that you think that my attendance and my taking the oath and -- and even my voting is considered service, then I -- I respect that and I actually -- I see that -- I -- I see that point of view as well. But I do think that there is an Attorney General's opinion that actually deals with service, and that Attorney General's opinion deals with an individual who had far greater service than I did. And so, you know, if, you know, I don't -- I don't want to be disrespectful and argue with you about what service is, because I don't feel comfortable defining what service is when I think that it's something that the agency has jurisdiction of. And they were fully aware of -- of everything that I did. They were fully aware that I was at that -- that meeting. They were fully aware of all of that activity and they accepted the rescission.

REP. HAMZY: And I -- I could appreciate your position and I'm actually very sympathetic to your position. I think, in this case, I think you've gotten caught up in a statute that is pretty clear on its face, and -- and that's the position I think that we find ourselves in. And I, like I said, I think you're more than qualified to -- to sit as a judge. I just -- it doesn't appear that you're -- by the state statute that's -- that was passed by this General Assembly -- a lot of people on this Committee, I think, probably voted for this -- and, and approved by the Governor and is -- is state statute.

But the question that I have or a follow-up question that I have, I think there is -- there are distinctions between Attorney Mengacci's -- I mean, I think the wording in Judicial Selection, if you were a member of Judicial Selection, that you could not be considered for appointment to the bench within two years --


REP. HAMZY: -- of the date that you left, date of your last date of service --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: (Inaudible) --

REP. HAMZY: Last day of service or end of your date of service on the -- on the Commission. And -- and I did read the Attorney General's opinion on that. But my question, with regard to opening up what would seem to be a can of worms, in other words, if you're a legislator --


REP. HAMZY: -- you're disqualified from taking certain positions within your term. And so what some --


REP. HAMZY: -- people decide to do is either not run for another term or run for another term and if they happen to be successful, they resign their seat prior to being sworn in. Because it seems like that is the point at which service begins, when you're sworn in. And my -- my, I guess, fear here is people can just write -- start writing letters of rescission left and right in order to make themselves eligible for state employment or any other position, if this precedent is -- is -- is considered or -- or is -- is approved.


REP. HAMZY: What is your -- what are your -- I mean, do you --


REP. HAMZY: -- have any thoughts on that?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Well, I guess --

REP. HAMZY: You don't need to answer it but --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Well, I -- I do. I have -- I have a few thoughts on that. Number one, I'm not sure if you were here earlier when I said that I believe that the jurisdiction of this matter is under the Office of State Ethics, and it's not something like in the Mengacci matter, it's not under Title 51, it's not under, you know, the Judicial Statutes; that's number one.

But, also, sort of the argument that you've made is sort of a strict statutory construction argument and, you know, in the legal field, sometime you look at the legislative intent here. And the -- while I can't speak for the legislate -- legislative body, I think we -- we all know that the purpose of a revolving door policy is so that individuals don't receive some quid pro quo, that they aren't, somehow they don't have any undo influence on receiving one thing, one -- one appointment because of their affiliation with another thing. I don't think you have any evidence before you that that happened here. And, in fact, I think you have evidence that for three-and-a-half hours, I sat on the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board and that everything else, I disclosed to them right away once I found out. And I think that you'd honor the legislative intent by, you know, the revolving door policy, the purpose of it, you'd be honoring the legislative intent in understanding that I received no quid pro quo as a result of serving on the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board, even if you construe there's service.

But that's -- that's, you know, that's the best I can offer you besides that I don't think that this is a -- a Judicial Statute. This is something that -- this revolving door violation, so to speak, would be something that the Office of State Ethics would take up. This would be under their jurisdiction; it's their statute. And this is the very agency that I consulted with in sending the letter of rescission and the very agency that would be fully aware of any of my activities from taking the oath to voting, to any of that. This agency would be aware of what my involvement was with -- with the agency and they accepted the rescission so -- and -- and -- and this will be under their jurisdiction to decide if it was violated. I don't think they would have the authority to say that means you -- you can't be a judge, you know, to tell you that.

REP. HAMZY: And I think the same would hold true for any other -- any other potential violation of -- of the -- of this statute. I mean, I think that's --


REP. HAMZY: Did you disclose this to the Governor's Office --


REP. HAMZY: -- prior to being appointed? You didn't?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I did not, no.

REP. HAMZY: And --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: And -- and I -- I said earlier that to the extent that we can call it an omission, it was -- there was no intent to deceive or mislead anyone. I honestly believed that I had rescinded my acceptance of it and that it wasn't an issue. It wasn't even in the front of my mind as, you know, maybe I'll hold back on -- on giving this information; they had accepted my rescission.

Again, it was probably a two-week period of time in my life when I -- I dealt with it from the time that I received the e-mail,

September 10th. I don't even think it's something that made my résumé, which is pretty much where I would paste out -- you know, what have you served on -- into any other document. It wasn't something that I considered service or necessary to disclose. I, you know, it's after September 29th or probably October 2nd, which is the last day that I ever received an e-mail from the Office of State Ethics, I never had any communications with any of the staff members, any of the board members, any

-- any of the employees, so I -- it honestly wasn't something in my mind that -- that was an issue that I'd better disclose this.

And I -- I understand now, more, I guess, that, you know, issues can arise because of the perception of -- of what you served on. And so maybe, in retrospect, I should have disclosed it. But I didn't and it -- it was not an omission intended to deceive anybody.

REP. HAMZY: But -- but you did know that serving on this board would disqualify you from becoming a judge within at least one year, that's why you sent the letter of rescission; correct?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I did know that if it were considered service -- at the time I knew that if it were considered service it would disqualify me. I now, though, have an Attorney General's opinion that says differently. I didn't even do the research at that time because, again, I wasn't -- because they were allowing me to rescind this, I wasn't in the mode with let me do some research and see how I get around the issue of having served because I did not consider myself as having served. And I -- and I wasn't hiding the fact; there were minutes created as a result of the meeting I attended. I believe that CTN was there. And my own senator, who is the Vice Chair of this Committee, had written a press release. So I wasn't really hiding the fact that Senator Looney had actually appointed me. The Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board has allowed me to rescind it, and I didn't consider it an issue.

REP. HAMZY: Thank you.

And thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. LAWLOR: Are there further questions?

Representative Klarides.

REP. KLARIDES: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

And welcome, Attorney Westbrook.


REP. KLARIDES: I just have a few follow-up questions, and I think that I -- I certainly agree with my colleague. On its face, you certainly appear to be very qualified. It would be a benefit to the -- to the bench and the state. And I certainly, from what I've read and what I've heard about you, I have no reason to believe that you did anything with intent.

I guess I just have a couple questions that I'm not clear on. And I may -- I also was not here earlier on and --


REP. KLARIDES: -- so I may have missed it, so please bear with me.

Your first and only meeting on the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board was September 25th?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: That's correct.

REP. KLARIDES: Correct. Okay, so then you -- you have testified earlier that you received a manual that day.


REP. KLARIDES: And that day, the 25th, Thursday the 25th, and Friday the 26th, you went through the manual.


REP. KLARIDES: And in your package I see an e-mail from you to Barbara Housen; is that correct --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: That's correct.

REP. KLARIDES: -- pronounce her name -- at

11:42 p.m., on September 26th, saying you have some questions after going through the manual.


REP. KLARIDES: And then we see a letter to

Senator Looney asking him to accept your -- his -- your letter of rescission.


REP. KLARIDES: But the date on that is

September 25th.


REP. KLARIDES: And from understanding in here -- and I may be missing something -- but you hadn't even spoken to anybody about what you saw in that manual yet?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I had left a voicemail message for Legal Counsel at the Office of State Ethics, and then I followed up with the e-mail later that -- I didn't hear back. And I knew she wouldn't respond; it was -- it was very late. And so I put in there, I hope I could talk to you on Monday.

REP. KLARIDES: And is there information here that you spoke with her on Monday?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Yes. She -- her -- her response here is, What time is good to reach you --


DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- this morning?


DAWNE WESTBROOK: And then I testified earlier that when she sent me that e-mail, I actually called her and disclosed to her what the issue was and is it -- if you want me to kind of recap what I've already said from there? She told me that I should contact the Chair. Well, first she said -- she said she would close the door. She said give her -- give her a little while and she's going to get back to me. She got back to me pretty quickly. She told me I should probably contact the Chair. I was given the Chair's cell phone, and I talked to the Chair. And in consultation with the Chair, I decided, you know, that I'd send a letter of rescission.

At the same time, I was attempting to reach Senator Looney. I didn't want to send anything out without -- thank you, very much

-- I didn't want to send anything out without informing Senator Looney. I then e-mailed the letter that you see attached. And as you can see, the -- the document right after that is the Executive Director of the Office of State Ethics, Ethic's acknowledgment of that saying, I'm sorry you weren't able to serve; good luck.

And then the next e-mail she sends to the board members and, I believe, to her staff indicating that I'd sent a letter of rescission and that I had determined that I was unable to serve.

REP. KLARIDES: In the e-mail that you sent on Friday, September 26th, at 11:42 p.m., you said that that was a follow-up to a message, a voicemail you had left her?


REP. KLARIDES: I guess it's just confusing me where it says, I have some questions for you. I guess if I had read a manual and saw that there was a direct conflict with sitting on this board and becoming a judge, I would have said upon reading the manual, I -- I mean, that would just -- you know --


REP. KLARIDES: -- we all handle things differently, I guess.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Well, what I --

REP. KLARIDES: And words are different but --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: And I think there's -- but there's, I think, a reasonable explanation and a history for why I did that. I don't know if you were here earlier, but during the process of considering whether or not I would accept the appointment, I had consulted with the Executive Director and the -- the Legal Counsel about three other matters. I was a member of the Glastonbury Town Democratic Committee, and it was determined that I had to resign in order to serve. And then they said that at issue was my membership on -- membership on the Statewide Grievance Committee and my employment as a part-time lecturer with Manchester Community College. And on those occasions -- and -- and I've got an e-mail in here too -- they said hold off before you do anything, let us do some research.

And in doing the research, even they asked me for information. On the Manchester Community College issue, they wanted to know if I had an Employee Identification Number. They wanted to know if I filled out a W-4. They wanted to know if I actually got paid, and I faxed them a copy of the contract.

A VOICE: All right, (inaudible) --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: And they still said let us see whether this is something that will be considered state employment. They came down on the side of erring on side of caution, saying you probably should -- should just resign. And so I did that. The Statewide Grievance Committee wasn't an issue.

So on those other occasions, I had actually communicated with them before, you know, resigning or -- or taking any action because, you know, they had attorneys who had legal opinions, advisory opinions, and they would look into the issues. And, quite frankly, as I testified earlier, I sort of hoped that maybe there was some exception or maybe I wasn't reading it correctly or maybe there was something that I didn't know.

And -- and as -- and I said earlier, too, that what I did discover is that originally judges were exempted out, and then 2006m with this amendment, they were -- they were put -- they were put in specifically. Before, they were specifically exempted out.

REP. KLARIDES: So that's why the date on that letter to Senator Looney is the 25th?

DAWNE WESTBROOK: The date on the letter is because that was the effective date of when the rescission would occur.

REP. KLARIDES: Okay. I just have two more questions for you. In choosing -- in choosing the word "rescission," I guess, it just confuses me because if you hadn't -- if you had been informed that you were appointed and you had not gone to a meeting, then it would be very clear to me. But since you had already gone -- even though it was only one meeting and I understand -- I understand, you know, what went on at that meeting -- and you took an oath, which means you were legally part of that Commission, I guess rescission throws me, because in my mind if I hear some

-- a rescission versus a resignation, a resignation is very clear definition to me that there was something to resign from. So

I --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: So help you --

REP. KLARIDES: -- I'm very -- I'm very, you know, I'm very into the using specific words for specific reasons, even though a lot of people intermingle words. Even though their --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: You know something?

REP. KLARIDES: Their definition isn't as specific as they should be, but, you know, resigning to me means there was something there and you're -- and you're take -- you're leaving something, whereas a rescission, I don't -- it was not as clear to me.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Again, that was in consultation with the -- the Chairperson of the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board who I -- I discussed that with. And, as a result, I was allowed to rescind.

Now, I understand that you can see it differently, and if you construe it as service, I -- I actually completely understand that. I still do think, though, that there -- there is a Attorney General's opinion, again, on the issue of even an individual serving. So I'm, you know, I'm not trying to be coy by saying, you know, I rescind. I can understand how any of you can say, No, we think you served. And I fully respect that, but I also think that there is -- is a -- a decision on that, as served.

REP. KLARIDES: And that just brings me to my one last question. And I really appreciate you trying to answer these questions to the best of your ability, because I don't think -- I think there's a gray area here, and that's what we're dealing with right now. You know, although my colleague mentioned that the statute seems very clear on its face, and

it -- and in stepping back, I think reasonable minds could look at this, at your situation and realize you kind of got caught in the cross hairs. And there was some confusion, and as soon as you realized it, you took the proper steps to remedy it.

I guess where I get, where I'm lost -- and in your situation you're appointed. You served a one-meeting, you took an oath, and you immediately realized within a -- it appears a 24-hour period -- that you shouldn't be on this Commission if, in fact, you wanted to be a judge at some point down the line. Taking that a step further, if you -- if your situation -- if somebody else comes down the line, say, in a month or six months or a year and they serve, say, exactly the same situation as you're in, but let's just say they took the book home -- because it seems to be a very voluminous book --


REP. KLARIDES: -- and read it, you know, kind of read a little bit at a time, and say there wasn't a meeting for another six months. And six months down the line came and you went through the book and you went to the meeting, and you voted in a couple more votes. And then you realized that you shouldn't be on this Commission, understanding what your other interests were. Where do we draw the line? That's where, I guess -- and I know, I mean, now it's -- that's taking it a step further than my colleague.

But, I guess, going forward, how do we make that decision? I mean, it seems -- it seems as if the statute to me is a -- there's a bright-line test there; you either served or you didn't serve. But now if -- if we --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Yeah. And -- and let me just say again --

REP. KLARIDES: -- interpret it as if you did

not --

DAWNE WESTBROOK: The -- the lawyer in me would say it called --


DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- called for --


DAWNE WESTBROOK: -- speculation.


DAWNE WESTBROOK: But you're saying that, that, you know, what happens if I get this situation? You know, sort of what I'm hearing from some of the members is sort of a strict statutory construction, and I don't know that that's always what happens. I think sometimes we look at what the legislative intent was in enacting a statute. Here the revolving door policy, we know why legislators enacted those statutes. And I think the spirit of the law is -- is honored, even if you say that I -- I -- I served. I don't think that you have any evidence that there was any quid pro quo, that I am sitting here because of that one day of service on the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board. I don't know how else to answer your question about the hypothetical because, again, the lawyer in me says, Calls for speculation. I -- you know, I -- I don't know what happens if somebody six months down the line. I guess you start to define what is service and what did they do during that time period.

And you look at the language as a statute. The language of the statute says the person may -- and -- and I -- I think that that's important. And so now that I'm saying it, I can't find the statute. It's subsection L. It says no member of the board may hold any position, although at the beginning, you know, it says that -- the word "shall" is used for - for other things.

I don't know; I think there's discretion all over the place on this. I also think that the Office of State Ethics is the agency that has jurisdiction over enforcing the statute, so I don't -- I don't know that -- that you making a decision is a -- is a violation of the Office of State Ethics. I think it's for them to determine whether or not an individual violated the revolving door policy. It's -- it's a statute that falls under their purview and, again, they -- allowed me to rescind. They knew full well of all of the activity that I had been involved in with them. They knew that I attended a meeting. They knew about taking the oath. They knew about the voting. And they would be the ones who would determine if -- if I was violating the statute. So I -- I don't know. I think there's -- I think there's discretion here.

I guess it's -- it generally matters what school of thought you come from because, again, you know, there are people who are strict statutory constructionists who might look at this and say on its face it says that; that's all we need to know.

But, you know, there -- there is legislative intent, and I do know that legislators sometimes make sure that they voice their concerns for the very purpose of making sure that the intent of the statute is honored. And, you know, I don't think that your consideration of my nomination is a -- is a violation of the -- the spirit of this law. I don't see how you get that. It's a -- at best it would be a technical -- a technical violation, and you got an Attorney General's opinion on that, that even if technically it's violated, you still end up at, Well, what -- what is the remedy in the statute? And there isn't one. And so the Attorney General says that it's directive and not mandatory, so it's within your discretion to decide what to do. And that -- that would generally be my opinion.

REP. KLARIDES: And -- and I -- and I appreciate that answer, and clearly you've put a lot of thought into this.

And I guess it just troubles me that if we're -- if we look to the legislative intent, which clearly we do in certain circumstances, you or somebody in your situation could have sat on a board, technically been on a commission or a board for a year, and if we come to determine that there is no quid pro quo, per se, then there's no quid pro quo. Therefore, that should be the reason why somebody in this situation should be allowed to get through. And I'm not, you know, this is not a -- I'm not questioning you or your intent in this particular circumstance, but I guess, you know, there's got to be some way to make a decision. Because at a certain point --


REP. KLARIDES: -- then what's the point of having the statute in the way it's written? And I know -- and I know there's not necessarily an answer to that one way or the other, but that's what I'm struggling with in this situation.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: If -- if I can say, too, that I don't know that you would necessarily be setting precedent by making the decision because there is an Attorney General's opinion already on this matter that talks about the revolving door policy as being directive and not mandatory. So to the extent that there's something you can rely on other than if you all just decide, you've got an Attorney General's opinion and it says that this is directive and -- and not mandatory. You know, I -- that's probably the best I can give you, besides that I don't think that the -- the statute falls under your jurisdiction. It's for the Office of State Ethics to -- to enforce (inaudible).

REP. KLARIDES: And I appreciate that. But, also, having said that, we sit on this Committee and we -- it is our job to evaluate the candidates that are put forth before us on many levels, and, clearly, this would be one of them. And so it's just part of all the information we have when we do due diligence in making these decisions.


REP. KLARIDES: Thank you, Attorney Westbrook.

REP. LAWLOR: Are there further questions? Not -- thank you very much, and congratulations on your nomination.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Okay. Thank you.

No questions from you, Mr. Chair?

SENATOR McDONALD: Apparently every conceivable question has been asked ten times, so -- so I'm -- I'll -- I'll rely on my colleagues.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: I like picking on Mr. Linder, so I'd say he probably has (inaudible).



SENATOR McDONALD: I'm sure he does, and be careful which door --

REP. LAWLOR: He's going --

SENATOR McDONALD: -- you go out.

REP. LAWLOR: He's going out that one, and you should probably go out that one.


SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much.

DAWNE WESTBROOK: Thank you. I appreciate your consideration.

SENATOR McDONALD: The next nominee is Glenn A. Woods of Middletown to be a Judge of the Superior Court.

Good afternoon.

GLENN WOODS: Good afternoon.

SENATOR McDONALD: And thank you, for your patience.

Please raise your right hand. Do you swear that the testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?


SENATOR McDONALD: Please have a seat, and we'd be happy to have any opening statement you have for the Committee.

GLENN WOODS: Good afternoon.

My name is Glenn Woods and I am honored to appear before this Committee today. I would like to thank Governor Rell for nominating me and the Committee for considering my nomination to the Superior Court bench. I would also like to thank Chairman McDonald and Chairman Lawlor. I would also like to congratulate all of the other nominees on this momentous achievement.

Today I am accompanied by my wife, Cecilia Woods.

By way of introduction, I was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the eldest of five children to William and Eloise Woods. My father retired four years ago, at age 77, after 50 years in the practice of physical therapy in Meriden. He was one of the first physical therapists to open a private practice in this country. My mother, a homemaker who passed away unexpectedly four years ago, devoted her life to raising her five children and was active in many civic and cultural affairs in our town. My parents were active in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, instilled a sense of altruism in all of us and urged us to always work hard and to help others in our pursuits.

I was educated in the public schools of Meriden. I began my college education at Morgan State University, a historically black university in Baltimore, Maryland. I received my undergraduate degree in 1975, from Trinity College here in Hartford.

In 1979, I graduated from the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C. Antioch was the nation's foremost public interest law school. Antioch prepared its students to meet the legal needs of all citizens in our society, including the underprivileged and those from our main -- and those excluded from our mainstream.

I live in Middletown with my wife of 25 years, Cecilia, who retired as a legislative staffer two years ago. We have one son, William, who is 13-years-old and in the eighth grade. He is our pride and joy and the light of our lives.

Since my graduation from law school, I have been employed in both the public and private sectors. As an Assistant Attorney General for the past 17 years, I have had the most challenging and rewarded experiences of my career. I would also like to thank Attorney General Richard Blumenthal for his support during my career at the Attorney General's Office.

During my tenure as an Assistant Attorney General serving as counsel to the Wage and Workplace Standards Division of the Connecticut Department of Labor, I have litigated a large volume of cases, seeking wages for employees when an employer fails to pay proper wages in accordance with the laws of our state. I have litigated and argued significant cases on the issue of wage enforcement for the plaintiff Department of Labor before the state trial and Appellate Courts, the State Supreme Court, and also in Federal Court. With the advice and support of my great colleagues at the Attorney General's Office and the Department of Labor, we were able to establish important case law and achieve successful settlements which guaranteed that workers in Connecticut would be fully paid for all the hours they worked.

Further, as counsel, I have been influential in determining the course of litigation in the most substantive Labor Department wage enforcement cases. I also worked to establish agency policy and legal precedent for the Labor Department.

In the last few years my responsibilities have become more supervisory in nature. Approximately five years ago, I began directing other attorneys in the prosecution of wage enforcement cases. In addition, in November of last year, I was named head of the Workers' Compensation and Labor Department. This department includes 16 attorneys and 7 support staff who reported to me. This new challenge required me to continue to lead and direct in labor law and also required me to begin to learn and understand Workers' Compensation law.

I have been most fortunate. I have truly enjoyed my work. If I am appointed to the bench, I will certainly miss the fine people of that department as well as the excitement and challenge -- challenges of supervising such a large and capable legal department.

I have had considerable courtroom experience. In the course of my career, I have argued motions and conducted trials in State Superior Court. I have briefed and argued a number of appeals in the Connecticut Appellate Court and the -- and the Connecticut Supreme Court, and I have argued in Federal District Court. I have advised and counseled Labor Department officials. Further, I have prepared opinions and legal memoranda for state government officials, including Attorney General Blumenthal.

I have negotiated resolutions to complex labor cases and managed and directed attorneys. In addition, I am a member of a committee at the Office of the Attorney General assigned the task of interviewing candidates for the position of Assistant Attorney General. I believe that I have the skills and experience of a sound preparation for the judicial bench. I have been active in my community tutoring underprivileged and homebound children in the Homebound Tutorial Program. In addition, I was an Advisory Board Member for a federal grant program associated with the Village for Children and Families here in Hartford. This program was charged with seeking to achieve adoptive placements for children in foster care. Currently, I serve on the Board of New -- of the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks.

In my position as Assistant Attorney General, I have dedicated myself to vigorously enforcing state laws and ensuring that those who break the law are prosecuted. This was done to assist and protect those who are vulnerable and may be aggrieved, often without redress. I have a concern for justice and a respect for the rule of law and its significance in ensuring the rights and liberties of all of our citizens. I have done my best to work in this regard throughout my career.

While at the Attorney General's Office, I have enjoyed litigating and obtaining the

hard-earned wages for citizen's who are frequently and routinely in great need of their income. Further, my experiences as an African-American have made me extremely aware of and sensitive to the needs and concerns of all persons, regardless of their background or station in life. As a result, if I'm confirmed, I am confident that I would be fair, just, respectful, and empathetic to all persons who would appear before me in court. If confirmed, I would serve with restraint, intelligence, complete dedication, and commitment.

It is an honor to be nominated by the Governor and considered by this Committee.

I welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you have.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, very much, Attorney Wood -- Woods. You know, you have a extraordinarily broad background that I think is tremendous and speaks highly of your qualifications.

GLENN WOODS: Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Your time at the Attorney General's Office has allowed you a lot of wonderful opportunities, but like everybody in private practice, there are areas -- but you're in public practice; sorry -- but there are areas that you have more expertise in and some that -- that you'd be on a probably fairly steep learning curve. How do you -- how would you approach something like that if you had found yourself in criminal courts not necessarily having any experience in the area and yet you're still supposed to be the smartest person in the room?

GLENN WOODS: Well, I have a -- a -- a fundamental or basic love for the law. I think that would carry me a long way. I think my interest would make me a vigorous learner of -- of -- of the criminal law. I think in learning that, I would also be fair, would be just, would be courteous, and so I think learning would come from my interest in the law. And I think once I learned I -- I would -- I really believe that I could be a fair, competent jurist in that position.

SENATOR McDONALD: And I'm going to ask you the question I've asked others, and it may end up sounding rote at some point, but it's not intended to be, because I truly don't know how judges do this because of the huge volume of cases that have to be processed. And more and more it's being done by fewer and fewer people. So how do you maintain the quality -- as a judge -- the quality of your work and the -- and the equal administration of justice before all litigants when the spigot is never ended and the cases keep flowing through?

GLENN WOODS: Well, I think it's organization, it's discipline, hard work, and, again, there has to be a fundamental interest and enjoyment of the work. You have to enjoy the work to -- to want to put forth the effort. That's not unlike what we're facing now in representing the Labor Department. Obviously, we're having very difficult economic times, and we're swamped right now with our caseload. And we've just had to learn to be organized, disciplined, and structured in our approach. It's something that unfortunately I'm -- I'm quite accustomed to, particularly in the last couple of years.

SENATOR McDONALD: And you alluded to the issue of race. And it may -- and -- and the fact -- as a person of color that you are, have a heightened sensitivity to it. Certainly we know in our criminal justice system and perhaps throughout the entire Judicial Branch, the issue of racial disparities and overt and quiet prejudice can exist. And I presume like all of the other nominees, you have read the report. How and from -- from your perspective, how would you be most vigilant to be sensitive to that issue, and if you have an opinion, how should we as a Legislature, try to be proactive on eliminating the racial disparities that exist in our justice system?

GLENN WOODS: Well, I, individually, I would, again, be fair, empathetic, courteous, respectful. I don't want to venture an opinion on how the Legislature should do its work.

SENATOR McDONALD: We're looking for answers, so you know --

GLENN WOODS: I'm not sure I happen to have one for you. I can only say that, in my individual capacity, that I would treat everyone, everyone in the court, the personnel, the -- any party that came before me in the same manner that I would want to be treated, with full respect. And I was fortunate to see a lot of judges who did just that, and I'd love to follow in the same manner that they did, treating everyone with full respect, honor and concern, and courtesy.

SENATOR McDONALD: And, finally, we've asked the question but I need to ask it of you: Is there anything in your background that has not been disclosed which if made public would be embarrassing to yourself, to the Governor or to the Legislature if it's not disclosed now?


SENATOR McDONALD: I appreciate your testimony and I'm very happy for you and certainly for -- for your lovely wife --

GLENN WOODS: Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: -- with this nomination.

GLENN WOODS: Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Senator Handley.



GLENN WOODS: Thank you.

SENATOR HANDLEY: Actually, I have -- I have two comments: One, the question of whether you'd be up to working in an area that you haven't been working in. The smartest -- among the smartest persons I've ever known is Cee Cee Woods, and if you were bright enough to marry her, you're going to be just fine.

GLENN WOODS: Thank you, very much.

SENATOR HANDLEY: I (inaudible) --

GLENN WOODS: That's very kind of you.

SENATOR HANDLEY: My -- you're -- you're kind of unique in the -- in my experience with folks who have been coming up here and -- and apply -- who have been nominated or appointed as judges in that you have used the word “justice,” which is not a word that we hear in this Committee. I sometimes remind these folks from time to time.

How do you see the -- how do you distinguish between what is the law and what is just? I mean, technically they should be the same but how do you -- how do you think about the fact that sometimes the law may not be just --


SENATOR HANDLEY: -- or justice may not actually match the law? I'd just like to hear how you feel about that.

GLENN WOODS: I think the law should be applied evenly, regardless of any person's station in life. And I think that's true justice. It's giving everyone equal treatment under the law, applying the law evenly to the facts regardless of, as I said, that person's station in life. I think that's true justice.

SENATOR McDONALD: Senator Doyle.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just want to echo the Chairman and Vice Chairman's comments of positive input. I do truly appreciate the great résumé and background of Mr. Woods, and I look forward to the judge service on the bench. I also had the privilege of meeting him some months ago before he was selected, and I found him to be a person of fine intellect and great background. But I will kind of counter Senator Handley's comment. I really -- I've known his wife for many years, going way back now, and I think I really -- the fact that she selected you gets my vote of confidence for you.

GLENN WOODS: Thank you.

SENATOR DOYLE: So, again --

GLENN WOODS: Thank you, very much.

SENATOR DOYLE: -- good luck on the bench and thank you very much.

GLENN WOODS: Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: Are there other questions?

Representative Green.

REP. GREEN: Hi. Good evening.

GLENN WOODS: Good evening.

REP. GREEN: On your information that you submitted, you received your J.D. in '79, and you started working for the Attorney General in '91. Were you practicing law in between that time?

GLENN WOODS: At the time that I started --

REP. GREEN: (Inaudible) --

GLENN WOODS: -- working with the Attorney General?

REP. GREEN: Before that.

GLENN WOODS: No. No, I wasn't. No. I was working in banking, actually, and had a desire to pursue my long interest in the law and did so when the opportunity arose in the Attorney General's Office.

REP. GREEN: Okay. So it appears here -- I just want to be -- make sure I'm understanding this -- is that since you really started practicing law, you've only been with the Attorney General's Office.

GLENN WOODS: That's right, yes.


GLENN WOODS: For 17 years.

REP. GREEN: For 17 years? Okay. With that kind of experience, I'm always interested in whether or not that experience as an Assistant Attorney General -- and I've heard a few people refer to your position as Assistant Attorney General --


REP. GREEN: -- do you think that that has given you a wide range of experiences to be able to serve as a judge in various types of courts, in terms of your understanding of the law?

GLENN WOODS: Yes, I do. I think that I've had a wide range of experiences, particularly in the court system. It's been the civil side but I've developed skills and in the practice of law which I think can -- I can -- and can use and can take into the criminal side, if need, you know, at the time that I'm required to do so.

REP. GREEN: Can you tell me, at this time, when did you apply for judgeship with the Judicial Selection Committee and when was that?

GLENN WOODS: February '06 was the time that I -- either February or March, Representative, of '06 was when I believe I submitted -- originally submitted my application to the Judicial Selection Commission.

REP. GREEN: Okay. Do you have any thoughts on the plea bargaining that we use in our criminal courts? Have you ever thought about whether that would -- its being using as a, I don't know, as an appropriate legal procedure to address crimes? I sometimes get concerned with, especially in the criminal court, that prosecutors have information from a police report and it usually includes a number of charges that a defendant is charged with. And then there's a plea bargaining. And I'm not sure if there's a strong case that is presented by the police and the prosecutors have that or if the case is weak and that's why they plea bargain. As a judge, what -- what do you think -- first of all, what do you think about the plea-bargaining process?

GLENN WOODS: Well, as I -- as you know, I've been on the civil side my full legal career, and therefore I'm aware of the issue of the plea bargain. I'm aware that it's somewhat comparable to the pretrial settlement process that we have on the civil side. I think it would be difficult for me to go into any detail to discuss the pros and cons of the plea-bargain process being that I've not been actually involved in it.

REP. GREEN: Okay. Let's go through the process that you, I think, explained is similar, the pretrial settlement process in the civil court. Is there a matter of you and the other party having information and you're trying to agree on the facts or you're just trying to agree on a settlement? Because, to me, in the criminal court it should be based on facts and whether or not you could hold someone and find someone of crime versus trying to settle some agreement because everybody has different opinions. That seems to be a little different.

GLENN WOODS: Well, on the civil side to -- usually to reach a resolution prior to commencement of trial, usually there is some meeting of the minds, if you will, on -- on the facts. And that's usually what leads to the resolution of, you know, of the matter prior to trial. Rarely do -- at least in my experience -- rarely would two parties be diametrically opposed on the facts and still be able to come to agreement on a, you know, on a settlement party -- part of trial, on the civil side.

REP. GREEN: Okay. If you were to become a Judge of the Superior Court, do you feel that you would have to research or get more information on any particular type of law as a Judge on Superior Court, some weaknesses that you feel you would need to -- to know more about?

GLENN WOODS: Well, I don't that there would be any particular, but I am willing and prepared to learn those aspects of the criminal law that are necessary and essential to me being an effective jurist.

REP. GREEN: Okay. The -- have you had any thought on how we should treat 16 or 17-year-olds in the criminal court, whether we should keep them in a juvenile type of proceeding or adult type of proceedings?

GLENN WOODS: Well, again, it's my thought -- I know it's an issue; I'm fully aware of it. Because I've been so engaged in Workers' Comp law and labor law, it's tough to really venture forth a deeply knowledgeable opinion of that issue. But I can assure you that as a judge, I would be fair and respectful and vigilant about treating the younger 16 and

17-year-olds with -- with justice and fairness in my time as a judge.

REP. GREEN: Could you just maybe tell me, briefly, a little bit about your personality, your characteristics? If you're a sitting judge, how approachable are you and would you be open to feedback and/or criticism say, from a staff in the court, attorneys and/or -- or anyone's help?

GLENN WOODS: Well, I like to think that my communication skills are -- are my strength or an important part of my success. As I said, I have 23 people report to me now. I think we have a very successful operation or successful operation. I think a lot of it is because I believe in communication between my staff and me and within the staff. I think the communication is critical. I think being -- having strong interpersonal skills is important, and it would be critical to me on the bench.

REP. GREEN: Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.


Senator Gomes.

SENATOR GOMES: I don't have very many questions or maybe none at all, but I just wanted to welcome you here and --

GLENN WOODS: Thank you.

SENATOR GOMES: -- of course I want to reiterate what some of the other people have said. If Cee Cee chose you, you must be something.

GLENN WOODS: Thank you.

SENATOR GOMES: Because when I came up here, she led me around by the nose and taught me everything I needed to know. Not that I've learned much, but at least I had a good teacher anyhow.

GLENN WOODS: Thank you.

SENATOR GOMES: And I thank you for being here, and I wish you well.

GLENN WOODS: Thank you, very much.


Are there any other questions or comments for Attorney Woods? If not, thank you, very much for your time, and, again, congratulations

on --

GLENN WOODS: Thank you --

SENATOR McDONALD: -- the nomination.

GLENN WOODS: -- very much.

SENATOR McDONALD: I believe we only have one member of the public who has signed up to testify, although if other members of the public would like to do so, you can still sign up by the -- by the door. But the one name we have currently is Stephen Williams.

Good evening, sir.

STEPHEN WILLIAMS: Good evening. I think I should be sworn.

SENATOR McDONALD: Please raise your right hand. Do you swear that the testimony you're about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?


SENATOR McDONALD: Please have a seat.

STEPHEN WILLIAMS: Thank you. (Inaudible) --

SENATOR McDONALD: We normally allow members of the public three minutes to testify, but we'll give you a little leeway.

STEPHEN WILLIAMS: I (inaudible) --

SENATOR McDONALD: Extra minute or two.

STEPHEN WILLIAMS: I actually just had a couple comments, and then I'd like to open for questions if there are any.

The first thing I thought that was important is to point out what I think is -- is before this Committee and what is not before the Committee. It's quite clear that -- that Judge Foley and I have a legal dispute which is before the Appellate -- Appellate Court at the moment. The Appellate Court will eventually decide that dispute, and I think that that dispute is not an issue that's before the Committee. The issue that's before the Committee today is just the issue of whether Judge Foley is an appropriate person to be a Judge of the Superior Court or to continue being a Judge of the Superior Court.

So my experiences before Judge Foley are relevant to that question in that Judge Foley -- in that the way Judge Foley handled the -- my case and not the actual issues in the case, itself.

Initially, Judge Foley issued a show --

show-cause order and I showed up, and basically from that moment, as I tried to defend myself, the issue -- the -- the volume escalated. Nothing that I did was ever really responded to; instead, it just became louder and there was a total disconnect between what I might -- what I'm -- what I actually did to defend myself and what was going on in the courtroom. It became clear that -- that there was an end result that we were heading towards, and it was as if it was a train heading for a precipice and there's no way that it could be stopped.

Legal arguments that I've made were never responded to. If you read the decision that both I and Judge Foley have provided you with, you'll see that there's not one single legal reference in that -- in that decision. And yet before the Court I raised many legal arguments, so this makes no sense. I don't think this is -- this is actually the only example with -- involving Judge Foley.

Some on the Committee may remember the Hooker Hotel in Willimantic, which Judge Foley decided that he wanted to -- to end. And he took it upon himself to -- to really champion the -- the cause of -- of closing the Hooker Hotel. The hotel was a -- a drug-infested hotel in Willimantic, and it's been in there many years. He -- he really pursued this case to the point of -- he was in the press. He -- he -- he chastised the State's Attorney when the State's Attorney did -- decided not to pursue it as Judge Foley wanted it pursued. He held the owner in contempt and ran the owner out of money to the point that the owner was forced to sell the property.

The property has been sold and it's been renovated, and Willimantic is, I think we would all agree, a better place for it. But the question I have is whether we want a judge to be a proponent who -- who pushes issues and decides where he wants to go and takes the case or whatever to that conclusion or whether we want a judge who's going to be judicial, deciding issues that are brought to him.

In my case, when I defended myself before Judge Foley, the robes came off, the gloves went on, and that's where we are today. I think you can even see the consequence here with Judge Foley's testimony. It's quite clear that -- that he holds me in utter contempt. He couldn't mention my name; I was that guy or that fellow before the Committee. I think that's unfortunate and I think that even if a judge has been on the bench for

16 years, perhaps he shouldn't be reappointed necessarily.

SENATOR McDONALD: Well, thank you, very much, fore your testimony. I think I only have one question: The stuff that you just testified about with respect to the Hooker Hotel, I guess it is?


SENATOR McDONALD: And that's in Willimantic?


SENATOR McDONALD: Your comments about Judge Foley with respect to that, were those based on your personal observations?

STEPHEN WILLIAMS: No, that's based upon reading in the press and other things, it's not firsthand observation.


STEPHEN WILLIAMS: I was using that as an example, but obviously my own experiences are much more important.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. And, well, actually, with respect to your own experiences, the -- just out of curiosity -- the suspension came in 2005?


SENATOR McDONALD: And it was appealed to the Appellate Court when?

STEPHEN WILLIAMS: I was never issued a copy of the decision suspending me. I received a copy of the -- of the decision suspending me from the Clerk of the U.S. District Court on a reciprocal basis, so I was not aware even that I had been suspended until that -- the appeal period had -- had expired. And that was for whatever reason done by the Clerk. But I --

SENATOR McDONALD: Well, was that because the mailing address was in --



STEPHEN WILLIAMS: No. I filed an appearance. They just didn't send me a copy of the decision. And when I actually --

SENATOR McDONALD: So when -- when was the actual appeal filed?

STEPHEN WILLIAMS: The appeal was filed -- I -- I

-- the case continued and I was then tried on the speeding charge. And I filed an appeal of both the speeding charge and the suspend and

-- and the disciplinary action.


STEPHEN WILLIAMS: October. It is in here. I can tell you in a second.

SENATOR McDONALD: Of what year?

STEPHEN WILLIAMS: Of -- hold on. Let me give you a -- an exact answer. Seventeenth of November; it's page A (inaudible) 42.

SENATOR McDONALD: Seventeenth of November of what year?


SENATOR McDONALD: November of 2005, the appeal was filed?


SENATOR McDONALD: And it's not been --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- resolved yet?



STEPHEN WILLIAMS: The last -- the last action was a motion for articulation, which went to the trial court. And the trial court sat on it for one year before denying the motion for articulation. This has been --


STEPHEN WILLIAMS: This has been the pattern.

SENATOR McDONALD: In that appeal -- in that appeal, do you make any claim of judicial bias or -- in that appeal, with respect --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- to Judge Foley?

STEPHEN WILLIAMS: I have not yet filed my brief in that appeal.

SENATOR McDONALD: Oh, you filed a statement of preliminary issues; right?


SENATOR McDONALD: And is that included in one -- as one of your preliminary issues?

STEPHEN WILLIAMS: I don't recall. That does not have to -- that can be modified at a later date (inaudible) --

SENATOR McDONALD: (Inaudible) my question. My question was did you include a claim of judicial bias in your statement of preliminary issues?

STEPHEN WILLIAMS: I don't think as a very specific; I may have. It's a long time since I filed that.

SENATOR McDONALD: And understanding that you haven't yet filed your brief, is it your intention to make such a claim?


SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. Thank you, very much.

Are there other questions? If not, thank you, for your time.

Are there any other members of the public who would like to testify before the Committee?

Seeing none, do any members of the Committee have a need to have Judge Foley come back and provide any additional testimony to the Committee? Okay.

And, Judge Foley, I'm presuming you still have no desire to come back and testify? Okay. With that being the case -- with that being the case then, unless there is objection, we are going to close the public hearing for all of the nominees with the exception of Dawne Westbrook, which would remain open until we receive the opinion of the Attorney General. We have asked the Attorney General's Office to expedite that. We've told them it wouldn't be unappreciated if we got it tomorrow or the next day but that it'd be very quick, and they said they have four attorneys working on the opinion, when I talked to them earlier today. So hopefully they will be able to turn it around quickly. But because we don't have that opinion yet, I think we should leave the public hearing open with respect to that so that we can receive the opinion, and if we have any additional questions of

Attorney Westbrook, we would have that opportunity.

Is there any objection to that proposal?

Representative O'Neill.

REP. O'NEILL: Yes. I would just -- I don't know if I'm framing this in the form of an objection -- but I would just like to say that I, for one, would be prepared to vote on this nomination if we wanted to go forward with it today, without reference to the Attorney General. I -- I think that this Committee is fully capable of looking at these statutes and if we need a legal opinion, we have LCO to render us an opinion. This may be an outgrowth of my many years on the Regulations Review Committee when we have routinely relied on the opinions of the Legislative Commissioner's Office as opposed to the Attorney General as to how to interpret our statutes.

And I think that I understand the Mengacci precedent, going back a few years; I was dubious about the Attorney General's opinion then and thought that we should have relied on the Judicial Review Council opinion that they rendered of their -- interpreting their own statutes which they are charged with, and deference ought to be given to them.

So I don't know if I'm making this as an objection for the record, precisely, but I think it should be in the record. And I think this, as opposed to the Committee meeting, itself, is part of the legislative record for our purposes, that I think that it's a -- the better course of action if we are having any doubts about what the interpretation of the statute is, is to either ask the Ethics Agency to tell us how they apply the statute or have LCO render us an opinion, rather than the Attorney General.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, Representative O'Neill. And, you know, actually, you bring up a good point. There may -- I haven't talked to all of the members of the Committee; there may be some level of interest on having one or more folks from the Office of State Ethics to come and testify before us as well. I don't know, but at least if we leave the public hearing open with respect to this nominee, we will have that opportunity.

I should also say that, you know, assuming -- assuming we did close the public hearing with respect to Attorney Westbrook and voted on it, and perhaps even approved it ultimately in the full General Assembly, I think it would be -- my personal opinion is it would be better to have had the advice of the Attorney General about whether or not that would be considered a valid and legal appointment of a judge, since as a judge she would be adjudicating cases. And it would be very unfortunate if -- if somebody challenged her authority as a judge, that she was not properly appointed as a -- as a Judge of the Superior Court. I think we owe it to ourselves and to our institution and to, frankly, Attorney Westbrook that we have the benefit of that opinion first so that if we do move forward, we know we do so in a legally sound manner. I have my own opinion on what the statutes say, but I think all of us could benefit from a little more analysis that the Attorney General's Office is working on right now.

But if anybody else wants to be heard on the subject, I'm happy to hear you now.

Senator Handley.

SENATOR HANDLEY: Yeah. I would suggest that we go ahead with this. We've had a very full hearing on this -- on this matter today, and if the Attorney General's -- how shall I put it -- the Attorney General's opinion is -- becomes part of the formal record before Wednesday, when we will be in session -- and I would assume that that's what we're thinking about is to get the -- get the opinion before Wednesday -- then I think that would be -- if the Attorney General's position is that, that we have acted inappropriately or that there is some question, then I think that would be the time to reconsider our vote and behave differently. I think we've had a sufficient discussion today, and I would -- I would encourage us to proceed.

SENATOR McDONALD: Senator Kissel.

SENATOR KISSEL: Thank you, very much,

Mr. Chairman.

I -- I think we should wait, and it's not because I want to impede the nominee's process here because I stated very publicly to her that I think she has incredible credentials and she would be a strong assent to the bench. I am confident that when we receive this decision from the Attorney General, based upon passed precedent and the fact that, to my mind, this nominee did everything a reasonable human being would do to make her position on the Citizen's Election Advisory Board void ab initio, I'm hopeful that that's what it says.

But right now we have to at least be mindful that there's, I guess for lack of a better term, a cloud over the process. And I think it's better for this Committee to vote with that Attorney General's opinion in hand. And I actually think that it's better for the nominee as well, because to sort of have her out there when people are still guessing as to whether it's appropriate or inappropriate, I think does a disservice to her. And so being competent as to how I think this will all play out and knowing that I don't -- I don't think the people of the State of Connecticut should -- should lose out on this nominee, I think that patience for a few days would behoove us.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank you, Senator Kissel, and you framed my opinion better than I did. So I appreciate that.

Senator Gomes.

SENATOR GOMES: I just -- I'd just like to make some comments, as in the past I've served on this Committee and I have conceded to the fact that there are a bunch of lawyers on this Committee, and I always said that I would not have the opinions they had because I don't have the learning that they have. But I've sat here and listened to this testimony today, and I don't think that having the opinion either coming out of the Attorney General's Office or LOC or anywhere else would give us a different opinion as to what has happened today and why we should not -- why we should or should not vote. I think you'd have to be a dunce and sit here and not understand what all that testimony was all about. And saying -- and having said that -- I don't have the delicate way of speaking as some people have here -- I think it's time to vote on this issue.

Thank you.


Representative Hewett, and then Representative Green.

REP. HEWETT: I, too, have sat here all day long and listened to this testimony, and I don't think it hurts the process one bit to vote on this nominee today. If the Attorney General's opinion come back and is favorable to her, that means we're much more ahead of the process. That means there's two situations that -- no, there's three. It has to go through the Committee process. It has to go through the floor of the House to be voted on, and then to the Senate. So just because it comes out of here, we could come back tomorrow with a disfavorable opinion on what happened, but at least we get it out of this. And I don't think it hurts the process one bit for us to vote in here today and then get an opinion in the next two days and then continue the process.

Thank you.


Representative Green.

REP. GREEN: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Representative Hewett basically said what I would have said, and I think we need to continue to proceed with the process. I'm appreciative of actually what I've learned today, after reading the paper, that all of the details in terms of how this entire situation happened was not clear to me in the newspaper. And I was one who believed that we should try to stick to the rules as best as possible, because that's what we need to do.

But I'm just amazed that a person, on the first day of being appointed to a Committee, read the handbook and then informed that Committee of a concern, which was very ethical. And, in fact, one, what it shows me, how that person would have been an excellent candidate on that Commission but also tells me that this was really some, I think, unclearness or some things that we here need to really clarify about some of the things that we do, and that the Attorney General -- and unless I'm mistaken and there's been some new decisions made by the Attorney General as to a similar issue that happened with us with a previous judge -- if we were to sit her, she would be protected from just some of the information I read from the Attorney General. And apparently if we were to make that decision, judges did not open to collateral attacks concerning alleged ineligibility to hold office, so I guess that's been made a decision.

So I think we need to proceed, and I think Representative Hewett talked very clearly and specifically on we have time and we should not wait for that time. And Representative O'Neill did express that we have resources here that we constantly rely on for information. I would not want to wait for just the Attorney General's decision; I think we're ready to vote tonight.

Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: I take it Senator -- I'm sorry

-- Representative Dillon was next, then Senator Doyle.

REP. DILLON: Thank you.

I actually was faced with this once before on this Committee and I voted for the particular person who had served on Judicial Selection, so I would probably follow my own precedent. But it seems to me that if we were to vote tonight, it would be final action by this Committee but it would not be final action; it would not be dispositive. And so that having acted on that, understanding that there may be future information coming before a vote by the chamber, further action could be taken. I've learned a lot today and I think some of the questions are questions that I would have raised myself, and I think that it was a very helpful conversation. And I don't particularly have a problem with voting tonight, because there's a remedy available to us. We don't have to take it up on the floor if something comes through in another -- in another opinion.

Having said that, I'm asking the Chairman if an opinion should come before we go into session on Wednesday, is it the intent of the two Chairs to schedule a Judiciary Committee meeting that day to vote on this particular nomination, if we do not take it up tonight?

SENATOR McDONALD: And in answer to that question is -- I probably should have said that initially -- yeah. If at all humanly possible, consistent with our rolls, we would have a meeting to take it up before Wednesday. And I have asked -- just so you know -- I have asked the Attorney General's Office to dedicate whatever resources they need to get us that opinion as quickly as possible.

But if we -- if we get it tomorrow or even on Wednesday, if we're -- I'd have to check with our folks about whether we could do that per notice -- per notice reasons, but if we could do it, we would do that.

REP. DILLON: Well, I mean, and I certainly don't want to show any disrespect to you. I would feel a lot more comfortable if -- if it were scheduled tonight, if we weren't going to take up the vote, simply because I think there might be a lot of concern about -- you know, a lot is going on this year and that it might not be possible to coordinate between the chambers, not because of any intent on the part of the Chairs. And so if we could work that out, I personally just think that if we voted tonight, we could always not take it up on the floor if there was something that was going -- that we learned that was a surprise in the opinion. But if it's the will of the Committee to not do it, I think it would be better if we were -- if we were to have a Committee meeting scheduled.

SENATOR McDONALD: I haven't had a chance to talk to Representative Lawlor about the subject but that was acceptable to me. We could actually even schedule a continuation of the public hearing and a Committee meeting for Wednesday morning. And if we've gotten the opinion by then, we would have already scheduled the meeting. I just have to figure out from our LCO folks if that would be sufficient time.

Attorney Taff, do you have an opinion?

RICHARD TAFF: I believe I missed part of the question.

SENATOR McDONALD: So the question is with the hope and expectation that we would receive the Attorney General's opinion tomorrow or Wednesday morning, could we now schedule a continuation of the -- of the public hearing with respect to Attorney Westbrook and a Committee meeting for Wednesday morning to take up the matter if we have the Attorney General's opinion in hand?

RICHARD TAFF: Yes, because the public hearing, you've already met the five-day advance notice for the public hearing, so you have a legal public hearing in the books. So you could recess it and continue it, you could actually, you know, schedule a new one or in -- at the Committee meeting. I believe there's a

one-day notice for that, so that could be noticed in the bulletin. Today's Monday? It could be noticed for Wednesday, if I get it in the bulletin.

SENATOR McDONALD: Trying to do this by Committee is difficult but if -- would that solution -- just sort of nod your head, yes and no -- would that solution address some of the issues raised by people? I just want to get a general sense of it and then we can talk about it further. Okay.

All right, so I believe -- Representative Dillon, did you have anything further?

REP. DILLON: Mr. Chairman, simply that it's fine with me to vote tonight, because we can

always --


REP. DILLON: -- choose not to take it up. But if there's a feel -- a sense in the Committee that we not do that, I think we should have something else in place.


And Senator Doyle.

SENATOR DOYLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

After listening to the testimony, I am not comfortable voting tonight. I'd prefer to hear from the Attorney General. You know, if it's the prerogative of the Committee and the Chair, then we do, but at this point in time I'm concerned about the issues of the law. So I would prefer to see what the Attorney General says.

But I do appreciate the comments of Representative O'Neill, and if I interpret them correctly, I think he's saying in terms of separation of powers, it's really the responsibility of the Legislative Branch. But then his comment -- and meaning we don't have to, you know, whatever the Attorney General decides, we don't necessarily have to live by, which I agree. But then he referenced our nonpartisan staff. But it's my understanding -- I think, if I'm not -- if I'm correct in understanding Representative O'Neill -- correct me -- the -- if we comment to them, they never issue legal opinions, so I don't think we would really get much from them. So I would think it's really up to -- I mean, no, that's their policy not to give legal opinions and --

A VOICE: (Inaudible) you're really --

SENATOR DOYLE: No, they're researchers; they're not attorneys for us. So we're not gonna really get an opinion from them. So I would just -- we can -- I'd feel more comfortable waiting to get the Attorney General's and then review that.

SENATOR McDONALD: Why don't we do this?

A VOICE: (Inaudible) --

SENATOR McDONALD: What I -- I -- my proposed solution to this is that we adjourn the public hearing with respect to all of the nominees, with the exception of Dawne Westbrook, and then we'll take a roll call vote on the issue of whether or not to adjourn the public hearing with respect to her. Does that make sense to folks?

A VOICE: Sure.

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay, so could somebody -- could somebody get our Committee Administrator here? And, well, we'll -- we'll -- we'll have an -- we'll have a --

Well, while we're waiting for our administrator, Representative Green.

REP. GREEN: Yes. I just want to be clear, because I had heard that some other members might be

-- some decisions might be made. If we hold the public hearing open, can we make decisions on the other candidates and just -- just not hold -- okay. Just want to be -- that --

SENATOR McDONALD: Yeah, you --

REP. GREEN: That's also allowable?

SENATOR McDONALD: Yes. We would --


SENATOR McDONALD: We would close the public hearing with respect to the others and then convene the Committee meeting and vote on those nominees now and either have a continuation of the public hearing with respect to Attorney Westbrook and then a Committee vote on her on Wednesday morning or depending on how the roll call vote goes, we'll do it all tonight.


A VOICE: (Inaudible) --

REP. GREEN: All right. And I just -- I guess,

Mr. Chair, I guess I was a little confused, because I wondered if when that last gentleman spoke, did we close the public hearing? And I just don't know what she -- okay. Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: No, wait. The Public Hearing is not yet closed on any of the nominees.

So, Representative Lawlor.

REP. LAWLOR: Sorry. I just -- so it's -- I'm going to make a motion which does not relate to Attorney Westbrook, and that would be to close the public hearing for the eight nominees --


REP. LAWLOR: -- for all the nominees but for Attorney Westbrook. And then we're going to deal with that separately in a minute, right, so that the first issue is just closing the public hearing for all the rest of the nominees. And the intention is to go on to vote on those and then -- then next we're going to do that. So I would move --


REP. LAWLOR: I move that.

SENATOR McDONALD: It's been moved and seconded. And I assume there's no objection to doing this by a voice vote. All in favor, say aye.


SENATOR McDONALD: Opposed? Okay.

A VOICE: (Inaudible.)

SENATOR McDONALD: Okay. The ayes have it.

Now Attorney -- Representative Lawlor.

REP. LAWLOR: There you go. So with regard to Attorney Westbrook's nomination, the motion would be to close the public hearing -- no, to -- to -- to close to public hearing as to her.

SENATOR McDONALD: Is there a second? Is there -- the -- the -- just so everybody is clear, the motion is to close the public hearing with respect to Attorney Westbrook, which would allow us to move to a vote on her nomination in the Committee meeting that will immediately follow.

A VOICE: All right.

SENATOR McDONALD: If you're in favor of that and you want to vote on her nomination tonight, I suspect you would vote in favor of this motion. If you want to wait for the Attorney General's opinion, I'm just guessing you might want to vote no. Is there any discussion?

And hopefully it's not -- hopefully it's not too complicated, but Representative Walker.

REP. WALKER: Yes. Thank you. Thank you,

Mr. Chairman.

So let me get this straight. If we close the vote on -- on Attorney Westbrook right now, that means that we will vote for her tonight, right now?


REP. WALKER: And if we don't do that, we wait until we or for the Attorney General's opinion, and at that point then we close it and then we vote?


REP. WALKER: Okay. Can I ask you a question? Have we ever -- have we ever voted on a nominee and not had favorable but still had them move to the -- to the floor of the House?

SENATOR McDONALD: It would -- if that happened, you would then -- well, do you want --

Representative Lawlor.

REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Having been here for a long, long time --

REP. WALKER: Yes, you have.

REP. LAWLOR: -- I can't remember the judge's name but I do believe there's been some unfavorable reports out of the Committee. But that's the answer to your question. I think we've done that, and we've certainly done what's being contemplated right now, which is not close the public hearing with respect to one, particular judge in order to hold open the possibility of additional testimony on that nomination, should it become necessary. And then subsequent, you know, then with or without additional public hearing, we actual had the vote on those judges. So --

REP. WALKER: And we've done that, so my -- my next question is: Then if we get a positive report from the Attorney General, are we then gonna say, Well, we don't really have to listen to the Attorney General later on? I'm just --


REP. WALKER: -- curious.

SENATOR McDONALD: -- the answer, it's an opinion of the Attorney General. It's not binding on this Committee. Members would then be able to read it and inform themselves about whether that opinion mattered to them or not in casting a vote.

REP. WALKER: Well, I guess if -- I guess my concern is if we're holding off for the opinion of the Attorney General then, and we're not then going to say that that's going to have an impact on, you know, which way we're going to go, I'm confused as to why we hold, we're holding off waiting for the Attorney General's opinion.



SENATOR McDONALD: -- that's why we're doing a roll call vote --


SENATOR McDONALD: -- because there's --

REP. WALKER: Thank you.

SENATOR McDONALD: -- a difference of opinion on it.

REP. WALKER: Okay. Thank you.


REP. LAWLOR: Can I (inaudible)?

SENATOR McDONALD: Representative Lawlor.

REP. LAWLOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'm really quite ambivalent on this whole thing, but I think the -- that I -- I think it's probably -- and I think I'm going to vote to keep it open because between now and the time we get the Attorney General's opinion, it may require us to ask a few more questions of somebody; perhaps it's someone from the Ethics Commission; perhaps it's Attorney Westbrook; perhaps it's the Attorney General, himself. Because, you know, the issue for me here -- and let me just say for the record, and I -- probably everybody feels the same way, but I certainly feel this way -- she seems like she'd be an excellent judge; I don't think there's really any question about it.

There's an interesting legal question about whether she's eligible to be appointed now or does she have to wait until September when the one year would have expired, and that's -- it's not just about appointing judges, it's all of these complex issues regarding the revolving door statute which applies to a lot of people, including ourselves. And the question is that there are some interesting legal and complicated and technical questions, and we be setting a precedent depending on what we do. We're probably setting a precedent either way. And but I think we ought to at least have a little bit of time to think through all of the possible ramifications of this, and it's my hope that if the Attorney General says that, based on prior decisions or prior incidents or precedent or whatever, that it doesn't appear that she's -- it appears that she is eligible to be appointed as a judge, that's fine. Then we can have a vote and she'll be considered Wednesday, because we'll be in session for that purpose.

If not, it at least gives us the opportunity to understand what we're doing a little better. I don't think this is about Attorney Westbrook at the moment; this is about a larger issue involving the revolving door statute. And so that's -- that's -- I think I'm going to vote to keep it open for that purpose.

SENATOR McDONALD: Thank -- thank you. And, again, I should say the exact same thing, that that, this is -- in my opinion, I hope I get to a point where I can vote for Attorney Westbrook. I think she's got some tremendous qualifications, but I also want to make sure that we're not violating the law or otherwise acting illegally. So I'm going to be voting against it.

Let's just be clear, one more time, that if you would like to continue to have the option to continue the public hearing and, and have the benefit of the Attorney General's opinion, you would vote no on this motion. If you feel that you have enough information already and would like to proceed to a vote on the nomination tonight, you would vote yes; okay?

Representative Green.

REP. GREEN: I think I heard you state that we're going to vote by roll call. And I'm just wondering, is there procedure where we can vote by voice vote versus roll call? And

if --


REP. GREEN: -- the other vote was by voice vote, I'm trying --


REP. GREEN: -- to figure out --


REP. GREEN: -- do the Chairs have --


REP. GREEN: -- prerogative there?

SENATOR McDONALD: Just by watching the heads bobbing and shaking, I think it's going to be close enough that I am going to need the benefit of a roll call vote.


SENATOR McDONALD: If there's nothing further, please call the roll.
















(No audible response.)





REP. MORRIS: Coleman?



REP. CONWAY: (Inaudible.)


REP. COUTU: (Inaudible.)
















(No audible response.)










(No audible response.)










(No audible response.)






(No audible response.)


REP. ROLDAN: (Inaudible.)


REP. RORABACK: (Inaudible.)


(No audible response.)


(No audible response.)






(No audible response.)




(No audible response.)

SENATOR McDONALD: Have all members voted? If all members have voted, please announce the tally.

DEBORAH BLANCHARD: Yea: 16; Nay: 22.

SENATOR McDONALD: Attorney Taff, do you happen to know what time the session on Wednesday -- I should announce the -- the motion fails. Attorney Taff, do you know what time the session is supposed to start on Wednesday?

RICHARD TAFF: The House is ten.




A VOICE: (Inaudible.)

SENATOR McDONALD: All right. We're going to -- we're going to follow -- sorry guys, but for those of us in Stamford, we have a -- have to drive a little further. But we're going to schedule a continuation right now, tentatively, of the public hearing and a Committee meeting at -- at 9 a.m., so that we can deal with this if we have the Attorney General's opinion by that time. Okay?

So now the public hearing is closed with the exception of -- of the public hearing on Dawne Westbrook.