HARTFORD -Superior Court Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher, known for a ten-year tenure marked by controversy, announced his resignation effective October 16, 2023, according to Daily Ructions.
Appointed with a background as an active Democrat and former state representative, Moukawsher made headlines for presiding over a contentious state education funding case.
Surprisingly, he read his verdict for three hours in the courtroom, causing some to fall asleep.
His ruling, which would have granted school administrators the authority to exclude severely disabled children from public schools due to high accommodation costs, sparked significant backlash and allegations of bias, especially as he sent his child to a private school.
Moukawsher defended his ruling and decisions via an op-ed in The Courant, sharing his connection to disabilities by citing how he once cut himself with a pen in college.
His ruling demanded a rapid, 180-day redesign of the state education system by legislators, sparking concerns about potential judicial overreach and hasty reforms.
The Supreme Court later overturned his verdict.
During a tenure marked by controversy, his abrupt disbarment of attorney Nickola Cunha made Moukawsher a contentious figure on the bench.
Attorney Cunha accused Judge Gerard Adelman of bias, alleging favoritism towards Jewish court professionals he appointed.
This led to her disbarment by Moukawsher for making unsupported allegations against his good fellow.
Cunha, arguing her focus was on individual bias, not an attack on a religious group, is appealing her disbarment.
While Connecticut permits judges to disbar lawyers directly, a situation that some lawyers find precarious, given that judges like Moukawsher have conflicts of interest and personal biases, it has rarely been used.
Critics voiced concerns over Moukawsher’s decision not to refer Cunha’s allegations to a grievance panel, emphasizing the importance of due process.
Instead, Moukawsher took on the roles of prosecutor, judge, and jury in the case.
Transcripts from the court proceedings show an exchange where Moukawsher interrupted Cunha as many as 14 times, seemingly eager to hone in on her statement regarding Judge Adelman’s perceived religious bias.
This aggressive line of questioning led Cunha to elaborate further on her claims, which, according to some, seemed like a well-laid trap by Moukawsher.
Before his appointment in 2013, Moukawsher had experiences in big money law, Democrat politics, and business and used them to get the back door backing to get his judicial appointment.
Despite his vocal criticism of the Family Court system’s inefficiencies and alleged corruption, Moukawsher’s actions on the bench paint a picture of a judge more invested in protecting allies than enacting reform.
Alongside recent appointee Judge Thomas J. O’Neill, observers have described both as masquerading reformists while shielding the shortcomings they pretend to decry.
Set to vacate his role on October 16, 2023, Moukawsher remains tight-lipped about the motivations behind his decision.
He has not yet written an op-ed in the Courant to defend his decision to leave, perhaps describing how he once sat on a tack.
Whispers in legal circles suggest Moukawsher once had aspirations for the federal bench, but his actions at the state level rendered that ambition a punchline to a not very funny joke.
Some familiar with his trajectory anticipate a return to political maneuvering, where Moukawsher thrived before donning ill-fitted judicial robes.
Known for grandiose proclamations, bloviating, and delusions of infallibility, delivered in his courtroom in a dull monotone that should be marketed as white noise for insomniacs, there is a joke in legal circles: “If you can stay awake through one of Moukawsher’s rulings, you know you’re not on the jury!”