Judge leav­ing the bench for pri­vate prac­tice

John J. Naz­zaro is re­sign­ing from the Su­pe­rior Court to re­join Rear­don Law Firm

The Day - - FRONT PAGE - By KAREN FLORIN Day Staff Writer

Su­pe­rior Court Judge John J. Naz­zaro is re­sign­ing from the bench ef­fec­tive Dec. 29 to re­turn to pri­vate prac­tice.

Naz­zaro, 58, a mar­ried fa­ther of three from Paw­catuck, will be re­join­ing the Rear­don Law Firm of New Lon­don, where he worked pre­vi­ously, as a civil trial lawyer.

Nom­i­nated to the bench in Au­gust 2007 by Gov. M. Jodi Rell, he said he was the sec­ond Asian-Amer­i­can to be­come a judge in Con­necti­cut. Dur­ing his decade of ser­vice, Naz­zaro presided over civil, crim­i­nal and fam­ily cases at courts through­out the state. He served as the pre­sid­ing judge over civil mat­ters in New Lon­don dur­ing the last ju­di­cial term and said it was a “sur­real ex­pe­ri­ence” to hear cases in court­rooms 4 and 5 of the Hunt­ing­ton Street court­house, where he had tried so many cases as a lawyer in pri­vate prac­tice.

Naz­zaro was re­as­signed ear­lier this fall to New Haven Su­pe­rior Court. It was then, Naz­zaro said, that he be­gan to think about re­tur­ing to pri­vate prac­tice. His cur­rent eightyear term as a judge would have ex­tended to 2024. He said he wanted to give plenty of no­tice of his de­par­ture at the end of the year. He de­liv­ered a res­ig­na­tion let­ter to Gov. Dan­nel P.

Mal­loy on Oct. 6.

“It was a priv­i­lege and an honor to serve as a judge,” Naz­zaro said in a phone in­ter­view Wed­nes­day evening from Bos­ton, where he was look­ing at col­leges with his youngest daugh­ter. “I en­tered into pub­lic life be­cause I wanted to do some so­cial good. When I was in pri­vate prac­tice, I was fairly suc­cess­ful and took an ex­treme re­duc­tion in pay (to be­come a judge). My youngest is go­ing to col­lege, and I find my de­sire to get back into court as a lit­i­ga­tor out­weighs my de­sire to wear the robe.”

It is un­usual, though not un­heard of, for judges to re­sign from the bench prior to qual­i­fy­ing for a full pen­sion that equates to about 2/3 of their an­nual salary. Naz­zaro said he would be el­i­gi­ble for a par­tial pen­sion when he turns 65. Judges cur­rently earn about $167,000 a year.

At­tor­ney Robert I. Rear­don Jr. said he is ex­cited to have Naz­zaro back at the Rear­don Law Firm, a boutique firm on Hemp­stead Street that spe­cial­izes in per­sonal in­jury and wrong­ful death cases.

“Judge Naz­zaro was a mem­ber of our firm early in his ca­reer, and we’re re­ally ex­cited to have him back,” Rear­don said by phone. “He’s an ex­cel­lent trial lawyer. He’s gen­er­ous with time to his clients to a fault. He’s al­ways will­ing to lend an ear to our clients, and I know that he’s a vig­or­ous ad- vo­cate for their causes.”

Naz­zaro said Rear­don would not be ap­pear­ing be­fore him while he fin­ishes out the year in civil court in New Haven. He said he is acutely aware of the need to avoid even the ap­pear- ance of eth­i­cal im­pro­pri­eties, hav­ing served as a state pros­e­cu­tor at the be­gin­ning of his ca­reer and on the Ju­di­cial Re­view Coun­cil, which investigates com­plaints of mis­con­duct by judges, while on the bench.

“I was with Bob Rear­don for nine years and have tremen­dous re­spect for the work of the firm, the lawyers, and the qual­ity of work they have done for decades,” he said. “I was pre­sented with a very at­trac­tive of­fer, and I’m look­ing for­ward to get­ting back in the court­room as an ad­vo­cate and join­ing a great team.”

Naz­zaro is a board cer­ti­fied trial lawyer and a ju­di­cial fel­low of the Na­tional Board of Trial Ad­vo­cacy. In 2016, he was the first Con­necti­cut judge to re­ceive the Con­necti­cut Law Tri­bune’s award for pro­fes­sional ex­cel­lence and life­time achieve­ment. In his per­sonal life, Naz­zaro is a mu­si­cian who has fre­quently played acous­tic gui­tar and sang at var­i­ous venues un­der the stage name “Jack” Naz­zaro.

Rear­don said that when he and his daugh­ter, at­tor­ney Kelly E. Rear­don, met with Naz­zaro, they all came away ex­cited about the pos­si­bil­ity of his join­ing the firm.

“Once he ar­rives, we’ll keep him very busy,” Rear­don said. “With the vast ex­pe­ri­ence he’s had, he’ll be able to take on a sig­nif­i­cant caseload of com­plex cases.”

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