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McDonald nominated to Supreme Court

Updated 11:22 pm, Thursday, December 27, 2012

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  • Andrew J. McDonald, a former state senator from Stamford who has been Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s chief legal counsel for the last two years, has been nominated to the Connecticut Supreme Court Malloy made the announcement during a news conference this morning in the Capitol. If confirmed, the 46-year-old McDonald would become the first Stamford native to serve on the state’s Supreme Court and one of the few gays nationally to be named to their state high courts. He is married to Charles Gray of Stamford. Photo: Kathleen O'Rourke / Stamford Advocate
    Andrew J. McDonald, a former state senator from Stamford who has been Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s chief legal counsel for the last two years, has been nominated to the Connecticut Supreme Court Malloy made the announcement during a news conference this morning in the Capitol. If confirmed, the 46-year-old McDonald would become the first Stamford native to serve on the state’s Supreme Court and one of the few gays nationally to be named to their state high courts. He is married to Charles Gray of Stamford. Photo: Kathleen O'Rourke

 

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HARTFORD -- A former state senator from Stamford who has been Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's chief legal counsel for the last two years has been nominated to the Connecticut Supreme Court.

If confirmed, 46-year-old Andrew J. McDonald would become one of the few gays nationally to be named to their state high courts and the first to serve on Connecticut's appellate level.

Malloy, citing a 20-year professional relationship and personal friendship with McDonald, made the announcement during a morning news conference Thursday.

"I believe in making this appointment we embrace Connecticut's great diversity," Malloy said.

"In my estimation, Andrew possesses an exceptional ability to understand, analyze, research and evaluate legal issues," Malloy told reporters and friends of McDonald gathered in the Capitol. "I am sure those are the same skills that will allow him to be a great jurist on the state Supreme Court."

McDonald, a former partner with Pullman & Comley LLC, needs to be approved by the legislative Judiciary Committee, of which he is a former chairman and which will hold a public hearing on his credentials when the General Assembly convenes next month.

"I'm honored that you would put your faith and the faith of the people of Connecticut in me with this nomination," McDonald said, recalling the occasion when, as a young lawyer, he first appeared before the Supreme Court, unable to imagine that he would ever become a member.

"I believe I now work in the greatest job a lawyer could have in the executive branch of government, working for the best governor in our lifetime," McDonald said. "I wouldn't leave it or his administration but for the finest opportunity to contribute to the growth and understanding of the law in our state that this nomination represents."

McDonald attended Stamford public schools before graduating from Cornell University and the University of Connecticut School of Law. He married Charles Gray in 2009, with Malloy performing the ceremony as Stamford mayor.

McDonald was campaign manager for Malloy as he sought the Stamford mayoralty, then later became the city's top lawyer under Malloy.

McDonald also served on the city's Board of Representatives and the Board of Finance.

As a four-term senator, McDonald became a lightning rod while co-chairman of the powerful Judiciary Committee, when in 2009, acting on the request of a constituent, he and the other co-chairman, then-Rep. Michael P. Lawlor, scheduled a bill for public hearing that would have changed the way the local Roman Catholic churches could be governed, putting more power into the congregation and less into pastors and bishops.

The hearing was eventually canceled amid busloads of Catholic protesters who arrived from parishes statewide.

McDonald's mother, Anne McDonald, was a state representative for Stamford from 1991 until 2003, rising to the chairwoman post on the powerful Finance Committee. She died in 2007 at age 74 and McDonald's father, Alex, died at 82.

McDonald grew emotional when he mentioned them during his brief remarks to reporters.

"My mother taught me the value of public service and so much more," McDonald said. "My father, who passed away earlier this year, taught me the values of honor and hard work, among so many others."

Supreme Court justices are paid $162,250 per year. If confirmed, McDonald would replace Associate Justice Lubbie Harper Jr., who last month reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.

Another court opening is the result of Justice C."Ian McLachlan who reached retirement age earlier this year and has resigned from the court.

Malloy said he will soon announce a nominee to succeed McLachlan and a candidate to replace McDonald as his legal counsel.

kdixon@ctpost.com; 860-549-4670; twitter.com/KenDixonCT; facebook.com/kendixonct.hearst; blog.ctnews.com/dixon