When the state Judicial Selection Commission meets in 2014 to consider whether to renominate Superior Court Judge E. Curtissa Cofield for another term, it would do well to carefully examine whether she is fit to be on the bench for eight more years.
Her recent history has not been reassuring. In 2008, after she was arrested on a drunken driving charge, she made racist remarks to police officers, according to a police video of the incident.
The Judicial Review Council suspended her, without pay, for eight months. She apologized publicly to all concerned, and is now a Juvenile Court judge for the New Britain District.
Recently, the state Department of Children and Families sought an order against Judge Cofield, saying that she has inexcusably delayed making permanent placements for 10 children who had been removed from their parents' homes and are in foster care.
Court rules say that a placement in such cases must be made within 120 days of the trial determining the end of parental rights. The last trial ended some 11 months ago. According to the Connecticut Law Tribune, in one case the judge asked for a delay because she was going to be away on vacation for a month.
DCF is now headed by Joette Katz, herself a former state Supreme Court justice. Early this month, Commissioner Katz and Attorney General George Jepsen asked the state Supreme Court to order Judge Cofield to act. The Supreme Court sent the request to the Appellate Court, which sensibly has given the judge until April 1 to come up with the placements.
In its appeal to the Supreme Court, DCF wrote that children who have been removed from their parents need "a safe, secure, permanent home" as soon as possible. Commissioner Katz and her agency are right. Children who have had to endure so much abuse or neglect that they must be separated from their families shouldn't also have to face lengthy delays for permanent placement.
And they deserve a more caring, attentive advocate than Judge Cofield has shown herself to be.Copyright © 2015, CT Now