I am going to miss Christopher Droney when he is confirmed as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. As a trial judge, he was always calm, always decisive in his rulings, always a model jurist. I am not aware of any practicing lawyer who believes otherwise.
When I learned a few weeks ago that American Bar Association talent scouts were beating the bushes for opinions about Droney, my first reaction was simply to mutter “of course.” He is a judge’s judge: never flashy, never seeking to steal the show, never needing to show that his heart and mind are in the right place. He is implacable.
I recall the first time I appeared before him. He was brand spanking new. I have a tendency to be a little brash from time to time, so I pressed the limits in that case, hoping to send a message that we’d both be a lot happier if he just let me do what I wanted. He slapped me down in a heartbeat, seeming to see right through me. He did so in a way that did not require me to learn the lesson again.
There’s little doubt he will be confirmed, and that he is qualified.
The hunt is now on for a successor to his spot on the District Court bench. Watch the whiplash now as federal bar groupies jockey for position. The president should resist the urge to appoint from with the ranks of those of who spent a career posturing for a shot on the bench. Yes, there are a dozen or so lawyers on all the right committees: they’ve kissed all the right, er, um, well, let’s be polite – judicial rump; they’ve greased the palms of the likes of former Senator Christopher Dodd and current Senator Joseph Lieberman; they play by the rules, and when the rules aren’t clear, they seek to lay down rules for others. Spare us, Mr. President, a genuflecting bobble-head doll in a robe.
I’ve got a few candidates in mind.
I’ve long been an admirer of Koskoff, Koskoff and Bieder’s Bill Bloss. He is as smart as any lawyer in the state. He has a keen wit, and an appreciateion of human foibles. Yes, he can be a little too upright from time to time, but he has unquestioned integrity. What’s more, he has represented folks accused of crimes at trial, and served as a plaintiff’s lawyer. There simply aren’t enough people’s lawyers on the federal bench.
Or how about Superior Court Judge Dawne Westbrook? I met her when she was a CHRO hearing officer fresh out of law school. She was impressive even then. Yes, she worked for John Williams and me for a spell, but, c’mon people, walking on the wild side of the law ought not disqualify folks for appointment to the federal bench. It’s a wild world out there. Let someone who has walked the walk sit on the bench just once. She, too, has represented folk accused of crimes.
We don’t have a judge on the federal bench with significant trial experience as a criminal defense lawyer in Connecticut. A president looking to break the mold and serious about the audaciousness of hope would seek to leaven the bench with differing points of view. He should do so, however, by appointing folks who know what goes on in a courtroom. The trial bench is no place for rookies; we wouldn’t send a surgeon into operate who only read about surgery.
Reprinted courtesy of the Connecticut Law Tribune.