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September 14, 2023

Opening on Appellate Court is opportunity for Lamont

CONNECTICUT JUDICIAL The state Appellate Court: Judge Eliot D. Prescott is in the front row, second from the right.

Judge Eliot D. Prescott of the Connecticut Appellate Court is taking senior status in October, giving Gov. Ned Lamont an early chance to deliver on recent reassurances to lawmakers of his commitment to diversity on the higher courts.

Prescott, 58, a judge for nearly 20 years, notified the court Wednesday of his plans.

He was appointed to the Superior Court by Gov. John G. Rowland in 2004 and to the Appellate Court by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in 2014. He was an assistant attorney general for 10 years before going on the bench.

Lamont nominated Nora R. Dannehy, his former general counsel and a long-time and federal prosecutor, to the Supreme Court on Sept. 1, disappointing some lawmakers, including the Judiciary Committee co-chair, Sen. Gary Winfield, D-New Haven.

Dannehy’s qualifications were not at issue, but advocates and some lawmakers had expressed a preference for someone with a background other than prosecution or business law.

Winfield met with Lamont to share those concerns.

“It was my impression walking from the meeting with the governor was that when there is a vacancy coming open we could see a person of color, particularly a woman, with a background in public interest law — someone who represents diversity in those areas,” Winfield said.

Lamont said then his record speaks for itself.

“I think people appreciate the fact we’ve had the most diverse group of jurors that we put on the court over the last four and a half years. And he wanted to make sure we maintain that as a commitment,” Lamont said. “And I said, ‘Look, the quality of people’s qualifications is of absolute importance to me. And you don’t find that in any one niche.’”

Dannehy faces a confirmation hearing, most likely next week, then a vote by the full General Assembly when lawmakers return for a one-day special session on Sept. 26.

The Appellate Court is the intermediary court. The Supreme Court is the state’s highest court.

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