Only getting rid of Woman, Minority, and Judges who break ranks?
Postscript: E. Curtissa R. Cofield
State Officials Eager To View Recording Tied To Judge's Arrest
By EDMUND H. MAHONY | The Hartford Courant
January 19, 2009
Judge E. Curtissa R. Cofield (MICHAEL KODAS / HARTFORD COURANT / April 26, 2007)
The case of E. Curtissa R. Cofield, the Superior Court judge accused of using racially charged language during her drunken driving arrest, has slipped off the news pages in recent months. But that could soon change.
Two state institutions, both with extraordinary influence over judicial appointments, have begun looking into the circumstances of Cofield's Oct. 9 arrest on Route 2 in Glastonbury, according to a half-dozen lawyers and other officials familiar with the matter.
The attention of both institutions is focused on what the officials have described as a potentially explosive video recording of Cofield made at the Glastonbury Police Department. Although the recording has not yet become public, sources have said that Cofield, who is black, spoke in a racially demeaning fashion with police officers involved in her arrest.
The state Judicial Review Council, which is empowered under state law to punish judges for unprofessional conduct, has opened an investigation of the circumstances surrounding Cofield's arrest, the officials said.
The council has the authority to issue a subpoena compelling Glastonbury police to provide it with the recording. If the council has not yet obtained the video, it is almost certain to do so in the near future, the officials said. Ross Garber, council chairman, refused to discuss the matter.
Meanwhile, the co-chairmen of the legislature's Judiciary Committee, which has oversight power over the courts, have begun quietly negotiating with police and prosecutors in an effort to view the recording themselves, the officials said. The legislature has subpoena power of its own, but committee chairmen Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, D-East Haven, and Sen. Andrew J. McDonald, D-Stamford, prefer not to exercise it, the officials said.
Lawlor declined to speak in detail about efforts to view the recording.
Should the council or the legislature obtain the recording, the officials familiar with the matter said it is likely to become public.
Cofield is being advised by two lawyers on possible disciplinary issues, the officials said. Neither lawyer could be reached to discuss the matter.
Officials familiar with the request by Lawlor and McDonald said the legislators want to review the recording to decide how, or if, they should proceed against the judge. The council is expected to examine the recording as part of its effort to determine whether probable cause exists to discipline the judge.
If the council concludes that probable cause exists, all evidence contributing to that conclusion, including video records, would become public as part of a subsequent proceeding to decide whether to discipline her.
Between them, the council and the legislature have a variety of disciplinary options at their disposal. Those options run from reprimand to removal.
According to a state police incident report, Cofield drove her 2003 BMW X5 into a state police cruiser, which was parked and protecting a construction zone. Cofield was taken to the Glastonbury police station for processing and was charged with driving under the influence and failure to drive in the proper lane. Her comments were captured on a video and audio monitoring system at the Glastonbury police station.