CT's Supreme Court leader retires, discusses legacy - WFSB 3 Connecticut

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CT's Supreme Court leader retires, discusses legacy

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Supreme Court Chief Justice Chase Rogers retired on Friday. (WFSB) Supreme Court Chief Justice Chase Rogers retired on Friday. (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

After more than a decade leading Connecticut's Judicial Branch, Supreme Court Chief Justice Chase Rogers retired on Friday.

Rogers sat down with Channel 3 for an exclusive final interview and said she's confident changes made to all of the state's courts during her tenure will last long into the future.

As she took her seat for her last argument as chief justice, Rogers said she took a moment to take it all in.

She revealed what she'd miss the most.

"So I've been thinking about that a little bit," Rogers said. "It's a pretty simple answer for me. It's the people."

She retired this week after two decades on the bench.

"I just felt it was time for a change within the branch and for me personally," she said.

As for what's next, she said she's undecided.

"I'm going to be busy, I know that," Rogers said.

She said she'll work on national policy issues like public confidence in the courts and fight against human trafficking. She'll also practice law, but not in a role that requires her to appear in court.

She showed Channel 3 where her official portrait will soon hang, but tried to avoid speaking about her legacy.

"I hope they would say innovative and committed," Rogers said.

That innovation included the return of cameras in Connecticut courtrooms, a program she committed to early on that's largely viewed as a success by judges, lawyers and the media.

She also worked with staff in the courts on how they can better assist the people involved in cases.

"What has been the most gratifying part of the job for me is how committed they are at trying to make the process as good, as efficient and as humane as it can possibly be for the people who have to use it," Rogers said.

It wasn't all rosy, however. The chief justice handles the budget for the Judicial Branch and cuts at the legislature meant Rogers presided over dozens of layoffs.

When asked about decisions she's particularly proud of, she pointed to a case last year where the court said it's too suggestive for prosecutors to ask eyewitnesses to identify a suspect in the courtroom.

"In a lot of cases, unfortunately, he's the only African American in the room, so with that, that's not due process," Rogers said. "The prosecution should not be able to ask for the first time that someone identify the defendant in the courtroom."

Gov. Dannel Malloy nominated fellow Justice Andrew McDonald to become the next chief. Rogers said her advice to him is to listen to the talented people already there.

McDonald will have his own ideas of course, but Rogers said she expected many of the changes she made to continue.

"It feels to me that they're embedded in the culture of the branch, it's really a part of people's jobs now, so I think it's going to continue," Rogers said. "I'm optimistic. I am proud of my time here, it's the honor of a lifetime and I've just had a wonderful time doing it."

While she'll no longer have a seat at the front of the state's most majestic courtroom, the decade spent as chief justice will continue to be felt by those with cases in this court or any others across Connecticut.

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