Connecticut Supreme Court justice to retire

On May 27, 2020, Connecticut Supreme Court Justice Richard Palmer stepped down from the court after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 70 years.

Palmer joined the Connecticut Supreme Court in 1993 after being appointed by Gov. Lowell Weicker and confirmed by the Connecticut General Assembly. Palmer was renominated and reconfirmed every eight years following.

Prior to joining the court, Palmer served as the chief state’s attorney for Connecticut from 1991 to 1993. From 1980 to 1982 and from 1987 to 1990, he was an assistant U.S. attorney for Connecticut. Palmer was in private practice from 1984 to 1986. He was a law clerk to Judge Jon Newman of the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut.

Palmer received his undergraduate degree from Trinity College in 1972 and his J.D., with high honors, from the University of Connecticut School of Law in 1977. During his legal studies, he was a member of the Connecticut Law Review.

Palmer’s replacement will be Gov. Ned Lamont’s (D) first nominee to the seven-member supreme court.

Under Connecticut law, state supreme court justices are selected using the assisted appointment method. Judges are selected by a commission-selection, political appointment method whereby a judicial nominating commission screens candidates and submits a list of names to the governor, who must appoint a judge from that list. The Connecticut General Assembly must then confirm the appointee. Judges serve for eight years. After that, they must be renominated by the governor and approved by the General Assembly to remain on the court.

Founded in 1784, the Connecticut Supreme Court is the state’s court of last resort and has seven judgeships. The current justices are:

In 2020, there have been 13 supreme court vacancies in nine of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. The vacancies were caused by retirements. Eight vacancies are in states where a Democratic governor appoints the replacement. Four are in states where a Republican governor appoints the replacement. One vacancy is in a state where the state supreme court votes to appoint the replacement.

Additional reading:
State supreme court vacancies, 2020
Richard Palmer
Connecticut Supreme Court
Judicial selection in Connecticut