Female jurists would hold a majority of the seats on the state’s Appellate Court if the two women nominated Tuesday by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy are approved by the legislature.
Malloy selected Judge Nina F. Elgo, a first-generation Filipino-American who grew up in Norwich and now lives in West Hartford, and Judge Maria Araujo Kahn of Cheshire, who was born in Angola to Portuguese parents.
“I’m confident both of these judges will serve on our Appellate Court with great honor and integrity,” Malloy said during a news conference announcing the nominations.
Elgo, a graduate of Connecticut College, was appointed as a Superior Court judge in 2004. She currently is assigned to handle child protection cases, including lengthy and complex matters involving the termination of parental rights and child abuse trials.
Malloy said he knows Elgo has heard some difficult cases. “We have a court system, that court system is asked to do very difficult things from time to time,” Malloy said. “What I ask is that they do it with great respect for the individuals who appear before them and these two individuals have that reputation,” he said.
Kahn was appointed to the Superior Court in 2006. She serves as co-chairwoman of the Access to Justice Commission, serves as a mentor and is an adjunct professor at the Quinnipiac University School of Law. She received her bachelor’s degree from New York University.
Kahn’s husband and one of her children attended the governor’s announcement, but her parents are currently in Portugal. “I assure you that they’ll be beaming when they hear this news … knowing that their youngest daughter who they brought to the United States … at age 10 … has now been nominated to the Appellate Court,” she said.
Malloy said he aimed to appoint judicial nominees who reflect the state’s diversity. “I have long held the belief that the judiciary should reflect the population and I have been very proud to have found jurists to nominate to the Supreme Court, the Appellate Court and the trial court, the Superior Court, who meet all of the standards necessary to serve and to also look like [the state’s population],” he said.
About 40 percent of the governor’s nominees have been women, which won him praise from Christine Palm, communications and policy analyst for the Connecticut Commission on Women, Children and Seniors. “I think it’s a great thing,” Palm said. “His track record has been very good and that needs to be pointed out.”
Malloy noted that 52 percent of the state’s population is female “so I thought getting to 40 percent would be a good thing.”
Elgo and Kahn were nominated to fill vacancies on the bench created by retirements. Malloy said he plans to make “a limited number of appointments” to the Superior Court in coming days.
“This number will be a fraction of the 40 vacancies that currently exist in recognition of the current financial situation of the state,” he said. “So I will limit those nominations.”