The Hartford Courant, By DANIELA ALTIMARI

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday nominated a diverse slate of lawyers to serve as judges on the state Superior Court, including a civil rights attorney who helped litigate the case that legalized same-sex marriage in Connecticut and the chief legal counsel to former Gov. M. Jodi Rell. Malloy’s definition of diversity includes all traditional markers — race and ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. But he also said he based his selection on “diversity of experience.”

There is just one white male among the six nominees announced by Malloy. “I want diversity, I want racial diversity, gender diversity, and diversity of experiences,” Malloy said during a briefing at the Capitol to introduce the judicial nominees. “Obviously I want to make sure that each of my nominees understand the importance of upholding the law and supporting the Constitution of the state of Connecticut, but…I’m clearly looking for increasing diversity on the bench.”

Two years ago — before Malloy was governor — several African-American lawmakers ripped the selection process for judges. At that time, about a dozen of the state’s 188 judges were African American and only five were Latino. Since then, lawmakers have confirmed several more African America, Asian American and Latino nominees.

The Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, which had recently criticized Malloy for not meeting his own goal of gender parity among administrative appoints, praised the nominees unveiled by the governor on Thursday. “By consciously taking steps toward ‘diversity of thought, diversity of experience, diversity of gender’ he is moving the state’s judiciary closer to gender parity,” the commission’s executive director, Teresa Younger, wrote on the group’s Facebook page. “We hope he carries this stance – in both words and actions — to all levels of government and encourages it in all three branches of government.”

Malloy, a Democrat, said he consulted with lawmakers prior to selecting the judicial nominees, but “they are my appointments.” There are currently 23 judicial vacancies on the court but Malloy said he does not expect to fill all of them,  given the state’s fiscal condition. He said he expects to nominate seven to 10 additional judges. Those nominated Thursday are: Leeland J. Cole-Chu, 63, of Salem. Cole-Chu, who is Asian-American, graduated from Harvard University and worked as a mediator and arbitrator for the state, representing the interests of the public in education contract disputes. Anna M. Ficeto, 47, of Wolcott. Ficeto served as chief legal counsel to Rell, a Republican who preceeded Malloy in the governor’s office. She also worked for the state departments of consumer protection and public works. Her parents attended Thursday’s announcement. Donna Nelson Heller, 57, of Riverside. The senior partner at a Stamford law firm, she is the mother of two sons, including one currently serving in the military.  Raheem L. Mullins, 33, of Cromwell. Mullins, who is African-American, is the assistant state’s attorney in the appellate division of the Chief State’s Attorney’s Office. He was formerly the assistant attorney general. Maureen McCabe Murphy, 61, of Middletown. An attorney in private practice, Murphy was part of the team that litigated the Kerrigan case, which resulted in gays and lesbian attaining the right to marry. Kenneth B. Povodator, 63, of Fairfield. The assistant corporation counsel for the city of Stamford (where Malloy served as mayor until about two years ago), Povodator holds a master of philosophy in chemistry from Yale University.

Each of the nominees will be subject to a hearing before the legislature’s judiciary committee before being refered to the General Assembly for a vote.

Original Article