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Hartford - Appellate Court Judge Carmen Espinosa, who came to the U.S. at the age of 3 from Puerto Rico, was nominated by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday to sit on the Connecticut State Supreme Court.
The 63-year-old Espinosa would be the first Hispanic to serve on both the Appellate and Supreme courts, said Malloy, who tapped Espinosa for the Appellate Court 21 months ago. She still must be confirmed by the General Assembly, which convenes Wednesday.
"She has been a trailblazer," Malloy said. "She was the first in her family to graduate from college. She was the first Hispanic judge to serve on the Superior Court, then the first Hispanic judge to sit on the Appellate Court, and now poised to become the first Hispanic justice on the Supreme Court."
Malloy said Espinosa has had an impressive career and is one of the state's most respected jurists.
"She will serve the people well when confirmed to the bench," he said.
State Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, the ranking Senate Republican on the legislature's Judiciary Committee, said he strongly supports Espinosa's elevation to the Supreme Court and commended Malloy for making the nomination.
"We continue to seek to have a broad range of racial and ethnic minorities within Connecticut's judicial system and this is a wonderful selection," said Kissel, adding how Espinosa has displayed fairness, thoughtfulness and an even temperament during her two decades as a jurist.
She was first appointed to the state superior court in 1992.
A mother of three from Southington, Espinosa said she hopes her nomination will serve as an example to young Hispanic children that anything is possible if "they stay in school and use education as a bridge to success."
"To be the first Hispanic to sit on all three levels of the Connecticut judiciary would truly be an honor," she said, telling reporters after the announcement that "it's almost surreal" to be nominated to state's highest court.
Prior to becoming a judge, Espinosa was an FBI agent and an assistant U.S. attorney. She also taught French and Spanish in the Southington public schools.
Espinosa graduated from Central Connecticut State University in 1971, received her master's degree in Hispanic Studies from Brown University in 1973 and received her law degree from George Washington University Law School in 1976.
Espinosa's nomination marked Malloy's second appointment to the state's highest court in recent days. On Dec. 27, Malloy announced he was also nominating his chief legal counsel, former state Sen. Andrew McDonald, to the state Supreme Court. If confirmed, McDonald would also fill a vacancy left by a retiring member of the court, Justice Lubbie Harper Jr. The mandatory retirement age is 70.