UPDATED: New and familiar faces on the bench for new judicial term

The new judicial term got under way in area courts Tuesday with several changes in judge assignments.

Superior Court Judge Emmet L. Cosgrove officially assumed the position of administrative judge in the New London Judicial District, which includes four courthouses.

State Chief Court Administrator Barbara M. Quinn had announced judge assignments for the new term in June, but the death of Waterbury Judge Richard Damiani and the resignation of Middletown Judge Robert Holzberg, both in July, set in motion a number of last minute personnel moves, according to Cosgrove.

Locally, those changes include the return of Judge Susan B. Handy, who previously served several terms in New London courts and considers it her home district. Handy, who sat for the past two years in Middletown, has returned to New London to preside over criminal matters. She is sitting in the so-called “Part A” Court on Huntington Street, where major crimes are heard.

Judge Patrick J. Clifford, who was serving as the presiding judge for criminal matters, has transferred to New Haven.

“We’re very sorry to see Judge Clifford go and wish him well in New Haven,” Cosgrove said. “We’re very happen to see Judge Handy come back.”

Clifford will be returning to New London on upcoming Fridays for sentencings in cases that were resolved while he presided here.

Other changes include the transfer of Judge Kevin P. McMahon from the GA10 courthouse on Broad Street in New London to GA21 in Norwich. Judge John J. Nazzarro, who sat most recently in Norwich, has moved to GA10. Judge Barbara B. Jongbloed, who has been presiding over trials in Norwich, will continue in that role, but will also be at GA10 on Mondays to preside over the domestic violence docket. Judge Stuart M. Schimelman will continue presiding over trials at GA10.

On the civil side, Cosgrove said Judge James J. Devine, who just completed a term as the district’s administrative judge, has taken over Cosgrove’s trial assignment. Cosgrove will continue working on cases in the pretrial mode along with Devine, Judge Robert A. Martin and several judge trial referees who work in the district.

In Norwich, where the family docket is heard, Judge Susan A. Connors will be joining Judge Kenneth L. Shluger, Cosgrove said. He said there are no other major changes in the district for the new term.

“Things ran very well under Judge Devine’s tenure and hopefully will continue to run smoothly,” Cosgrove said.

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