President Donald Trump on Wednesday nominated Kari A. Dooley, a sitting state Superior Court judge and a former federal prosecutor, to fill a vacancy on the U.S. District Court in Connecticut.
Dooley, a 54-year old Republican from Newtown, was appointed to the state court by former Gov. M. Jodi Rell in 2004 and was an assistant United States attorney for 12 years before that. She became a supervisor in the U.S. attorney’s Bridgeport office and counsel of the U.S. attorney before leaving for the state bench.
Dooley is a considered a hard-working judge and is well-regarded by colleagues and lawyers.
“She is an outstanding nominee,” former U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor said. “She has the right blend of experience and smarts and she has a great work ethic. She knows how the federal courts work from her experience in the U.S. attorney’s office and she is an experienced judge.”
As a federal prosecutor Dooley prosecuted, among others, the notorious Greenwich swindler Martin Frankel. Recently, she has been assigned to the Superior Court in Waterbury where she heard cases on the state’s complex litigation docket.
She was among a group of aspiring candidates for the federal bench interviewed by the state’s two Democratic U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy prior to her nomination. She is said to have been the top candidate for both.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she will fill the vacancy on the state’s federal bench created early this year when U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny elected to become a senior judge, which means he does not need to carry a full caseload if he chooses.
Trump’s district court nominees, such as Dooley, have been moving through the Senate at a glacial pace, with the White House and Congress focusing on vacancies in the federal circuit courts and a possible vacancy in the U.S. Supreme Court.
“They are focused on the appellate courts,” said veteran federal court observer Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond School of Law. “I would bet that she won’t get a hearing until April because of all the nominees ahead of her and probably won’t be confirmed until fall.”
Dooley began her legal career as an associate in the Greenwich office of Whitman & Ransom. She graduated from Cornell and the University of Connecticut School of Law.