5 members of Quinnipiac Law community nominated to Connecticut Superior Court

March 22, 2022

Outdoor view of the Quinnipiac School of Law Center on a bright winter day

Nearly a quarter of the 22 Connecticut Superior Court nominees Gov. Ned Lamont submitted to the Connecticut General Assembly are Quinnipiac Law alumni and administrators.

Stephanie Damiani, JD '02, a senior state’s attorney assigned to the Judicial District of New Haven, where she has served since 2004. She has been attorney for 20 years and a prosecutor for 18 years. She has focused her career on prosecuting criminal cases involving domestic violence.

Maria del Pilar Gonzalez, JD '08, an assistant United States attorney for the District of Connecticut and a member of the organized crime drug enforcement task force. She is also the District of Connecticut’s violence against women act coordinator.

Mary Elizabeth Reid, JD '94, the supervisory assistant public defender serving the Norwalk geographical area. She has been a public defender appointed to serve that community since 1996, representing accused individuals at all the various stages of criminal proceedings. She has been supervisor of that office since 2001.

John F. Riley, JD '92, a trial attorney with Moore, O’Brien and Foti in Middlebury, focusing on personal injury litigation and worker’s compensation. He also serves as an arbitrator in hearing contested personal injury matters.

Neeta Vatti, assistant director of career and professional development for Quinnipiac Law School and legal counsel and policy analyst for the Office of the Connecticut Senate Democrats. She was a civil litigator for most of her career, having represented both plaintiffs and defendants in a variety of matters.

“Our court system works the best when it reflects the diversity, experience, and understanding of the people who live here,” Lamont said. “These men and women not only have the competence, skills, and proficiency to serve the court with integrity, but come from a variety of backgrounds that provide them with the important shared experiences of the people who will come before them.”

Quinnipiac Law Dean Jennifer Brown said an aspiration of the law school is to produce graduates who are extremely knowledgeable in law, who are good problem solvers, who are highly ethical and form reputations among their peers as strong professionals and public servants

“We see a strong Quinnipiac representation among the people that the governor is nominating to the bench and that says the law school is doing a good job in producing the kind of graduates that we most want to put out into the world,” she said.

Past Quinnipiac alumna who have been nominated to the bench have worked in legal assistance, were intellectual property lawyers, family lawyers or personal injury litigators, or who have worked in government and they, like today’s students, learned far beyond the classroom.

“Many students are involved in extracurricular student organizations that involve a strong component of service to the law school, outside organizations and to their fellow students. That's learning that's happening outside in the community and in student organizations. It’s co-curricular learning that is teaching students about leadership,” Brown said.

Across the fields of study, Quinnipiac is known for its robust experiential learning opportunities, but especially at the law school, where this allows them to try out many different practice settings and subject areas.

She knows that Quinnipiac’s personal approach to teaching aspiring attorneys is partly to credit for the judge nominees’ achievements, especially when compared to other Connecticut schools. Brown said she found it interesting that UConn had only one more nomination than Quinnipiac did in this group of 22.

“When you consider they are a large state school and they’ve been around a lot longer than Quinnipiac has been, the fact that we are that close to UConn, such an amazing institution, really speaks to Quinnipiac’s reputation as a key player in the legal landscape of the state of Connecticut.”

Stay in the Loop

Sign Up Now