Judge Jonathan Silbert’s practice is devoted exclusively to mediation and arbitration, and he is a member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals. Judge Silbert was born in Stamford, Connecticut in 1943 and attended public schools in Stamford and West Hartford. He is a 1965 cum laude graduate of Dartmouth College, where he majored in Government, minored in Russian Civilization, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1968.
Judge Silbert’s experience includes three years as a legal services attorney and seventeen years in private practice. He has also served on the faculties of Yale Law School and the University of New Haven. For more than a dozen years, he acted as a consultant to the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation’s Justice Program, specializing in issues relating to sentencing and alternatives to incarceration.
Judge Silbert served as Vice-Chairman of the Guilford Board of Education prior to being nominated to the Superior Court bench in 1991 by Governor Lowell P. Weicker, Jr. Over the course of a 21-year judicial career, he served in courthouses in New London, Norwich, Willimantic, Meriden, Middletown and New Haven, presiding over civil, criminal, and juvenile matters.
Long active in continuing education, Judge Silbert has served on faculties for judicial education programs in his home state of Connecticut, as well as Alabama, Delaware, Mississippi, and the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada. Under the auspices of the ABA/CEELI program, he visited the Republic of Georgia twice in 1999 to speak on judicial independence and judicial ethics, and that same year he participated in a conference on the prosecution of official corruption cases at the St. Petersburg Law Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia. In February of 2001, he delivered a paper called “Citizen Participation in the Administration of Justice” at the First International Conference of the Korea Criminology Association and lectured on judicial ethics at Seoul National University College of Law.
Building on his interest in Russian history, language, and culture, Judge Silbert is chair of the Connecticut-Pskov Rule of Law Partnership. Beginning in 2002, he has been conducting seminars in Pskov and other cities in Russia an average of twice a year on such subjects as jury trials, judicial ethics, mediation, and the media and the courts.
In 2001, the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association honored Judge Silbert with its annual Judiciary Award. In 2003, the Connecticut Bar Association presented him with the Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award. In 2005, he was the recipient of the Hon. Robert A. Zampano Award for Excellence in Mediation, and in 2010, he received an award for Professionalism and Civility from the Connecticut Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates.
During the many years he served as a Presiding Civil Judge, Judge Silbert developed an interest in various forms of dispute resolution, earning a reputation for his skills not only in deciding cases at trial, but also in mediating cases to a successful conclusion without trial. He has lectured on mediation in Connecticut, as well as in the Russian Federation and Ecuador, and he is a Member of Mediators Beyond Borders. In 2012, after 21 years as a judge, he has returned to Garrison, Levin-Epstein, the successor of the law firm he helped to found in 1977, with a practice devoted exclusively to Mediation and Arbitration.
Judge Silbert has been married to his wife, Bonnie McHale, for 36 years. Their twin daughters, Corey and Jessica, are, respectively, a physical therapist and a fashion designer. Off the bench, he travels widely, plays squash several times a week, and also enjoys photography, entomology, and scuba diving. On October 7 and 8, 1998, he appeared as a contestant on the television quiz program, “Jeopardy!”