Judge George N. Thim spent 18 month sifting through transcripts and quizzing witnesses to determine if there was enough evidence to bring murder charges against Robert F. Kennedy's nephew.

In his report released Wednesday, Thim said there was. The superior court judge, who was serving as a one-man grand jury, recommended the arrest of Michael Skakel for the slaying of 15-year-old Martha Moxley.

Under state law, a prosecutor can request such a grand jury when other investigative procedures have failed. Thim, 56, was named sole grand juror in June 1998. The practice is rare in Connecticut, where there were only seven grand jury investigations from 1985 through 1997.

Thim spent a year and a half on the case, interviewed 53 witnesses, pored over transcripts and reviewed evidence. None of the proceedings was made public.

As the grand jury, Thim was able to subpoena witnesses. Prosecutors in Connecticut do not have subpoena power and have complained that they have been hamstrung in the Moxley case because they have been unable to force witnesses and suspects to talk.

Once Thim recommended Skakel's arrest, prosecutors began seeking the murder warrant. Skakel surrendered Wednesday in the 1975 beating death of Miss. Moxley, a childhood friend.

Thim, a Republican, is a former public defender. In 1985, he was sworn in as a judge by his father, then-Connecticut Supreme Court Justice John Thim, after his appointment by Gov. William O'Neil, a Democrat. Judges do not run for office in Connecticut.

Thim, a native of New Haven, received his law degree in 1968 from the University of Connecticut and was admitted to the Connecticut bar. He was in private practice until he became a public defender in Bridgeport in 1975. He was a public defender in Danbury from 1978 until 1985.