By Paul Hughes
Special to The Observer
HARTFORD – Carmen Espinosa is poised to achieve another first as a Hispanic jurist in Connecticut – appointment to the state Supreme Court.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Monday announced that he is nominating the 63-year-old judge from Southington to replace retiring Justice C. Ian McLachlan on the high court.
Malloy called Espinosa a trailblazer with a diverse background.
She became the first Hispanic to be confirmed as a Superior Court judge 20 years ago and then became the first to sit on the state Appellate Court in 2011.
As a Superior Court judge, she presided over trials in the Judicial Districts of New Britain, Hartford and Waterbury
“Being a Supreme Court justice will undoubtedly be the pinnacle of my career. However, I will never forget where I came from and those who helped me along the way,” Espinosa said.
Malloy said the Espinosa nomination continues his commitment to diversifying the state’s judiciary. It comes 10 days after he announced the nomination of the first openly homosexual justice.
“I believe when people from Connecticut appear before a court they have a reasonable right and expectation that the court should reflect Connecticut. Simply put, we should have the best minds, the best backgrounds, the best of what Connecticut is, and Connecticut is a diverse place,” Malloy said.
Espinosa said she is mindful of the significance of her nomination for the state’s Latino community.
“I fully understand the responsibility that will fall upon my shoulders if confirmed as the first Hispanic to sit as a Supreme Court justice in our great state,” she said.
Her parents brought her to the mainland United States from Puerto Rico when she was 3 years old. She said she hopes to serve as a role model.
“I hope that my nomination to the Supreme Court serves as an example to young Hispanic children that anything is possible if they stay in school and use education as the bridge to success,” Espinosa said. “After all, no one can ever take away what you know.”
Espinosa’s nomination to the Appellate Court sailed through the legislature in 2011. The House and Senate unanimously approved her appointment.
Espinosa received an undergraduate degree from Central Connecticut State University. She earned a master’s degree from Brown University and her law degree later from George Washington University Law School
She first worked teaching Spanish and French in Southington schools. She later became an FBI agent and then worked as a federal prosecutor for 11 years in Hartford before her appointment to the bench in 1992.