Committee approves Justice McDonald for brand new time period on state’s maximum courtroom

The legislative Judiciary Committee on Monday validated Supreme courtroom Justice Andrew J. McDonald for a second eight-12 months time period on the state’s optimum court docket, despite a handful of bad Republican votes revealing lingering animosity from his failed nomination to develop into chief justice in 2018.

There turned into no debate over the fifty four-yr-old McDonald right through the committee’s digital hearing. however a few GOP lawmakers, together with two new members of the state condominium of Representatives, voted in opposition t him. Two others, Rep. Doug Dubitsky of Chaplin and Sen. Rob Sampson, who recently challenged Gov. Ned Lamont’s government orders within the excessive court docket, disqualified themselves.

McDonald become verified 32-5. The nomination now heads to the residence and Senate.

Opposition in the vote casting became led through Rep. Craig Fishbein, R-Wallingford, a conservative these days named ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. Fishbein, in a question indicating opposition to the proposed legalization of marijuana for adult use, requested McDonald no matter if Connecticut legislation may trump federal laws in opposition t the drug.

“So if marijuana is illegal for leisure use federally, how can a state similar to Connecticut even contemplate recreational marijuana legalization?” Fishbein requested.

“That a subject that most likely goes to be debated in the legislature this 12 months,” answered McDonald, a Stamford native who now resides in Hartford. “That’s a coverage decision for the legislature, whether or not they want to entertain that query, and if so, no matter if to circulate legislations regarding that. it could be anything that would be litigated and if it received to our court, then i’d center of attention on the deserves of the arguments. i’m not suggesting that I have studied this in any aspect or formed any opinion about even if such legislature would pass statutory or constitution muster.”

Eleven states have full legalization of cannabis, most because of statewide referendums, whereas 34 have clinical-marijuana classes, together with Connecticut.

In 2018, the state Senate turned down former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s nomination of McDonald to turn into the nation’s first brazenly gay chief justice. Republicans criticized the high court’s 2015 ruling that the repeal of the dying penalty had to include the inmates on demise row. Republicans charged that McDonald changed into an “activist” decide.

McDonald, a former Democratic state senator from Stamford who turned into co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee whereas he held the Senate seat, become first appointed to the excessive court docket through Malloy in 2013. McDonald had been Malloy’s exact attorney when Malloy become mayor of Stamford and once more in Malloy’s first two years as governor.

A longtime trial legal professional, McDonald, who attended Stamford public schools, Cornell university and the institution of Connecticut legislation faculty, didn’t serve as a jurist within the reduce courts before Malloy’s nomination to the Supreme court.

Opponents also protected first-term Reps. Kimberly Fiorello, R-Greenwich and Donna Veach,R-Berlin; Rep. David Labriola, R-Oxford; and Rep. Cara Pavlock-D’Amato, R-Bristol.

State Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, who voted against McDonald in 2018, known as the period two years ago “a tumultuous” time. “I understand it should have been tough no longer to be appointed chief justice,” Kissel noted, asking even if it was intricate for McDonald, who has authored one hundred forty court opinion, to go right to the Supreme court docket in his first judicial job.

“no longer an issue in any way,” McDonald answered. “definitely i was a trial legal professional for two decades. i was pretty versed from at the least one facet of the bench, on how court operations work. The manner of judging is very distinct at the advanced court docket stage as hostile to an appellate courtroom stage. we have the time to research and seem into things in an awful lot extra detail than the trial courts have to. They should name balls and strikes dozens of times a day. we’ve the skill to overview the law in an awful lot improved element than they do, as we do our job.”

Rep. Steve Stafstrom, D-Bridgeport, co-chairman of the committee observed in an interview that McDonald has proven himself to be a key member of the court.

“Justice McDonald brings a special point of view to the Supreme court docket bench as one of the few americans who’ve served in all three branches of state executive,” Stafstrom spoke of. “He has proven himself a reasoned jurist and somebody the state relies to serve on a variety of judicial committees to bring on reform and progress in offering entry to justice for the citizens of Connecticut.”

kdixon@ctpost.com Twitter: @KenDixonCT