Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he is nominating 20 jurists to serve as judges of the Connecticut Superior Court. Among the nominees is 57-year-old Ridgefield resident Jennifer J. Tunnard.
Tunnard graduated from Fordham University and obtained her Juris Doctor degree from Touro College, Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center. She is currently a sole practitioner at the Law Office of Jennifer DeCastro Tunnard, where she primarily works as a litigator/trial attorney handling a vast array of matters from criminal law, personal injury, family, and real estate law as a plaintiff and defense attorney. Prior to entering private practice, Tunnard was a former Assistant District Attorney for the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office for six years where she worked in the Appeals Unit and Domestic/Sex Crimes Unit. She has been practicing law for 30 years.
The court currently has 40 judicial vacancies. Additionally, Governor Lamont is nominating two jurists to become family support magistrates.
“Selecting nominees to become judges is one of the most important duties that I have as governor because these individuals will become responsible for ensuring that justice is administered fairly and without prejudice, and that everyone who comes before the court is treated equally and with respect,” Governor Lamont said. “Our court system works best when it reflects the diversity, experience, and understanding of the people it serves. These individuals I am nominating have the qualifications that meet the high standards the residents of Connecticut deserve on the bench. Justice delayed is justice denied, and these new judges will help ensure the judicial branch is able to decide cases promptly and efficiently.”
In addition to Tunnard, the Superior Court nominees include:
- Mark Altermatt, 62, of Bolton: Altermatt graduated from Washington and Lee University and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from Syracuse University College School of Law. He currently serves as a partner at David G. Hill and Associates. Prior to this, he was partner at Halloran Sage, LLP, where he spent most of his legal carrier litigating civil matters, including the conduct of trials, mediations, and arbitrations. He has been practicing law for 34 years.
- Moira Buckley, 53, of Glastonbury: Buckley graduated from St. Anselm College and obtained her Juris Doctor degree from the Quinnipiac University School of Law. She is currently an Assistant Federal Defender in the Office of the Federal Defender for the District of Connecticut. For more than 25 years, she has practiced criminal defense work in state and federal courts at the trial and appellate levels. She has also practiced in the private and public sectors.
- Patrick Caruso, 55, of Madison: Caruso graduated from the University of Connecticut and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the Quinnipiac College School of Law. He is currently serving as an Assistant United States Attorney. For nearly 20 years, he has supervised investigations and prosecutions of drug trafficking organizations. He also currently serves as the office’s opioid coordinator and, in this capacity, leads drug awareness presentations at high schools, middle schools, and professional organizations throughout Connecticut.
- Vikki Cooper, 52, of Fairfield: Cooper graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and obtained her Juris Doctor degree from the Quinnipiac University School of Law. She is currently Deputy Corporation Counsel for the City of Stamford. Prior to this, she was Deputy Corporation Counsel for the City of New Haven and directed all litigation brought against the city. She also worked as a litigation associate at Carmody and Torrance, LLP and other private firms, and practiced in various areas, such as asbestos litigation, employment law, and commercial litigation.
- Gregory C. Davis, 60, of Bloomfield: Davis graduated from Tufts University and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center. He currently works at The Travelers Companies, Inc. since 1997, where he serves as Senior Counsel in the Strategic Resolution Group and his responsibilities include, but are not limited to, managing and resolving complex cumulative injury litigation related to asbestos, hazardous waste, and other toxic torts. Prior to this, he worked at the law firm of Murtha Cullina and the legal department of Northeast Utilities (currently known as Eversource). He currently also serves as Deputy Mayor for the Town of Bloomfield.
- Lynn Alvey Dawson, 64, of Cheshire: Dawson graduated from Boston University and obtained her Juris Doctor degree from Suffolk University School. She currently is a solo practitioner at the Law Office of Lynn Alvey Dawson, where she represents a diverse clientele that includes children and adults in family, juvenile, criminal, and probate matters. She has practiced law for 34 years.
- Karen L. DeMeola, 53, of Tolland: DeMeola graduated from the University of Connecticut and obtained her Juris Doctor degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She is currently Assistant Dean for Diversity, Belonging, and Community Engagement at UConn Law. Prior to her current role, she began her legal career as a civil litigator. She also held several administrative positions at UConn Law, and currently serve as an adjunct professor. She was the president of the Connecticut Bar Association during the 2017-2018 bar year.
- Paul R. Doyle, 59, of Wethersfield: Doyle graduated from Colby College and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. He is currently a member and partner of Kennedy Doyle LLC, a general practice law firm. He also simultaneously served in public office for 27 years, including three years as a member of the Wethersfield Town Council, 12 years as a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives, and 12 years as a member of the Connecticut State Senate.
- Daniel J. Fox, 46, of Stamford: Fox graduated from Loyola University and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from New England Law School. He is currently a partner at Curtis, Brinckerhoff and Barrett, P.C., where he focuses on municipal law, civil litigation, estates and trusts, corporate law, and real estate. For 12 years he served as a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives for the 148th Assembly District.
- Matthew Larock, 47, of Weatogue: Larock graduated from Dickinson College and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Miami School of Law. He currently works in the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office, where he is a Deputy Associate Attorney General and Chief of the Employment, Labor, and Workers’ Compensation Section. From 2004 through 2013, he served as an attorney with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. He began his legal career in private practice where he represented parents and children in child protection proceedings and served as a special public defender in juvenile matters.
- Ann F. Lawlor, 55, of North Haven: Lawlor graduated from Providence College and obtained her Juris Doctor degree from New England Law School. She is currently a Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney, Fairfield JD at geographical area #2 in Bridgeport. She worked in private practice for a few years before joining the Division of Criminal Justice in 1999. Since then, she has worked as an Assistant State’s Attorney, the last nine years of which have been in Bridgeport, serving for seven years in Part A and Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney at GA #2 since 2021.
- Walter A. Menjivar, 35, of West Hartford: Menjivar graduated from Vanderbilt University and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Connecticut School of Law. He is currently an Assistant Attorney General in the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office. He serves in the special litigation section and previously worked in the health and education section, representing state agencies in state and federal courts. He was formerly the Associate General Counsel in the Office of the Governor, where he provided legal counsel to the Governor and executive state agencies. Prior to his public service, he was a litigation associate at Day Pitney LLP.
- Yamini Menon, 46, of Westport: Menon graduated from John Hopkins University and obtained her Juris Doctor degree from American University Washington College of Law. She currently works as an Assistant State’s Attorney in the Civil Litigation Bureau of the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney. Prior to this, she was with the Division of Criminal Justice for 18 years. She has handled criminal trials, habeas corpus trials, habeas corpus appeals, and juvenile delinquency matters on behalf of the Division of Criminal Justice. Additionally, she served as a legal aid attorney with Connecticut Legal Services representing clients in housing court.
- Thomas J. O'Neill, 57, of Fairfield: O’Neill graduated from Stonehill College and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from Suffolk University Law School. He is currently a partner at Day Pitney LLP and a member of the firm’s Finance Probate and Commercial Litigation Business Unit and Pro Bono Committee. His practice focuses on a wide range of commercial and civil litigation matters in both state and federal courts, including landlord tenant disputes, foreclosures, lender liability, corporate ownership disputes, tort claims, and alleged unfair trade practices. Prior to this, he was a Victim Compensation Commissioner presiding over appeals from denials of applications for victim compensation.
- Richard J. Rubino, 54, of West Hartford: Rubino graduated from Southern Connecticut State University and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from Ohio Northern University College of Law. He is currently a Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney in the Hartford Judicial District and has served as a prosecutor with that office since 2000. During his tenure with the Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice, he has been predominantly focused on the prosecution of serious felony matters.
- Thomas J. Saadi, 53, of Danbury: Saadi graduated from Western Connecticut State University and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from Quinnipiac University. He is currently the Commissioner of the Connecticut State Department of Veterans Affairs and a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. Prior to becoming Commissioner for the department, he served for almost six years as its Chief of Staff and two years as its General Counsel. He also spent 15 years as a Connecticut Assistant Attorney General and Special Prosecutor. He has 18 years of continuous service in the Army Reserve as a Judge Advocate providing legal support from the company to division levels.
- Sharon A. Skyers, 54, of New Haven: Skyers graduated from Duke University and obtained her Juris Doctor degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law. She is currently a managing partner at Skyers, Skyers and Harrell, LLC, which she co-founded. Her practice has a primary concentration on personal injury cases and commercial and residential real estate transactions. She also focusses on business matters, serving as outside counsel to corporations and small businesses. She has been practicing law for 30 years.
- Emily Wagner, 47, of West Hartford: Wagner graduated from Skidmore College and obtained her Juris Doctor from the University of Connecticut School of Law. She currently serves as an Appellate Public Defender at the Connecticut Division of Public Defender Services, where she has spent the past twelve years. She began her legal career clerking for the Honorable Christine S. Vertefeuille, former Associate Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. She then spent four years as an associate at Shipman and Goodwin LLP. She also teaches the Appellate Defense Clinic at Quinnipiac University School of Law.
- Jason Welch, 50, of Bristol: Welch graduated from Hamilton College and obtained his Juris Doctor degree from Quinnipiac University School of Law. He currently works for the Connecticut General Assembly as the Chief Legal Counsel to the Senate Republican Office. Previously, his practice focused on professional liability, insurance coverage, and construction and business disputes working for the firms of Cummings and Lockwood, LLC and McCarter and English, LLP, as well as the insurance company Beazley Group. He has served in the Connecticut Army National Guard and the United States Coast Guard Reserves. He also served two terms as a member of the Connecticut State Senate for the 31st Senatorial District.
The family support magistrate nominees include:
- Jacquelyn B. Kercelius, 35, of Hamden: Kercelius graduated from Fordham College Lincoln Center and earned her Juris Doctor from Quinnipiac University School of Law. She is currently employed by the Connecticut Judicial Branch as an Assistant Clerk in Family Matters for the Judicial District of New Haven at Meriden. Prior to this, Kercelius worked in civil litigation, engaging in both plaintiff and defense work and representing government entities, such as the New Haven Housing Authority and New Haven Board of Education. Thereafter, she served as a director for a nonprofit specializing in individuals with chronic and persistent mental illness. She also served as a member of the board of directors for the Junior League of Greater New Haven community service organization and as a mediator for the Connecticut Bar Association’s Resolution of Legal Fee Disputes Program.
- Charlene W. Spencer, 58, of Vernon: Spencer graduated from the University of Connecticut and earned her Juris Doctor from the Western New England University School of Law. She is currently an Assistant Attorney General in the Employment Rights Section, where she defends the State of Connecticut in employment discrimination matters filed in federal court and state court, as well as administrative matters brought before the Commission of Human Rights and Opportunities. She has been with the Office of the Attorney General for the last 32 years in different roles, including the Child Support Division.
The Office of the Governor is forwarding the names of these nominees to the General Assembly for its advice and consent.
*Image courtesy Jennifer Tunnard website