CT Judge Nina Elgo honored with Edwin Archer Randolph Diversity Award

Connecticut's first Asian American judge

Connecticut’s first Asian American judge

By Cristina DC Pastor

Connecticut Judge Nina F. Elgo recently received the 2013 Edwin Archer Randolph Diversity Award given by the Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity.

Like Randolph who was Connecticut’s first lawyer of color, Nina Frances Elgo is the state’s first Filipino and first Asian American judge. The daughter of a retired Navy officer and a medical technologist, Elgo grew up in Norwich with her younger sister, Christina. Her parents met in Georgia where her father was assigned in the U.S. Navy. They moved to Connecticut where they raised two “well-behaved” daughters who also turned out to be “self-motivated” students.

“I was kind of a combination of two cultures,” Elgo said in an interview with this writer in 2004 for the Philippine News. “Although my parents were strict, they were perhaps not as severe as others. My parents were always busy. My father was out to sea a lot and my mother worked full time. They didn’t have to put pressure on us to study as my sister and I were self-motivated.”

A graduate of Connecticut College and Georgetown Law School, she did not jump into a law career right after school. She went to Boston and did temp work for all sorts of companies as she was on a quest for a career that was “meaningful, challenging and stimulating.”

“In those days I was kind of an introspective person,” she said in the interview. “I didn’t want to dive into any kind of career. I needed to know more about what’s out there for me. I did research. I read books, went over my skills. Instead of going to career counselors, I did it myself.”

A paralegal position opened up at one of the companies she temped for. She applied and got the job not realizing it would be her gateway to a successful career that would take her all the way to the top of Connecticut’s judicial system. She would spend more than 14 years working in the Attorney General’s office representing cases involving children. In 2004, she was appointed judge to the Superior Court.

“As a judge you hold a tremendous amount of power,” she said. “You have to be constantly aware of the fact that abusing power is one of the worst things you can do for yourself and for the system.”

Law, as it turned out, is something of a good fit for Elgo.

“Law is an evolving body of principles, and the result is you’re always going to be learning,” she said. “I’ve found it exhilarating to learn so much already and I’m grateful that I’ve found it all as interesting as I had anticipated it would be.”

At the time of the interview in 2004, Elgo’s parents were active with the Filipino American community of Connecticut. Her mother Nilda Carreon of Batangas was the president of the New England Filipino American Inc.; her father Loreto Elgo of Quezon used to head the Federation of Filipino American Associations of Connecticut.
Elgo’s husband is also a lawyer, whom she met at an Ultimate Frisbee game. They have a daughter who, she said, was “spellbound” by the ‘itik-itik’ folk dance.

The judge plays the piano and finds gardening very relaxing.

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