Opinion

Columnists / OP-ED

Mark Dubois

Mark Dubois: Legal Jobs Market More Complex Than Ever

By Mark Dubois |

Everyone in the legal profession, from law school administrators to bar association leaders, is going to have to consider the ramifications of a smaller pool of practicing lawyers in the future.

Amy Goodusky: Taking Aim at an Obstinate Opposing Counsel

By Amy Goodusky |

Lately, it seems that there is a lack of collegiality in the profession. When I began practicing, it was possible to forget one's concerns with another's behavior or the dilemma du jour on the courthouse steps, and to adjourn with an opponent for a cup of coffee after having vigorously disputed his position moments earlier.

Dubois-Mark

Mark Dubois: The Pros and Cons of Giving New Powers to Paralegals

By MARK DuBOIS |

The field of paralegal enterprise is getting a lot of attention today. A recent report by a Connecticut Bar Association committee on the "problem" of law schools included a suggestion that some of what folks call the justice gap — the lack of access on the part of many to resources necessary to meet their basic legal needs, could be met by empowering paralegals to offer direct-to-the public service.

Monique Ferraro: Ruling Limits Cell Phone Searches — But Not Enough

By MONIQUE FERRARO |

Lady Liberty rejoiced recently when a rare unanimous U.S. Supreme Court held that police may not rummage through an arrestee's cell phone without a warrant. For years now, police officers have riffled through arrestees' mobile devices with impunity. That is, until June 25, 2014 when the decisions in David Leon Riley v California and United States v Brima Wurie were issued by the court.

Pattis-Norm

Norm Pattis: Blogging Judge Should Not be Muzzled

By NORM PATTIS |

Richard Kopf, a U.S. District Court judge in Nebraska, writes a blog. The other day, he vented about the Supreme Court's recent decision in Hobby Lobby, the decision that extended the fiction of corporate personhood to the point of now offering the law's protection to "corporate" beliefs. The owners of Hobby Lobby can have their corporation opt out of providing contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act.

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Mark Dubois: From the Office of the President

By Mark Dubois |

To those of you who have better things to do than keep track of my career, I just became the president of the Connecticut Bar Association. Some will wonder as to the wisdom of any organization that would choose me to lead it. Point well taken. It may have had something to do with supply and demand. I am as surprised as anyone.

Pattis-Norm

Norm Pattis: An Outcast's View Of A Patriotic Holiday

By Norm Pattis |

Over the many years I've written this column – I think it is now 14, but who is counting? – I've taken pride in never missing a week. (Except for the couple of months years back when I impetuously quit, and then returned.) Only once has a column been spiked, or not used by the editor, and that was a wise call as I had more than the usual intemperance when it came to describing a certain clerk of the Superior Court.

Attorney Dan Krisch

Dan Krisch: Court Takes Leap of Faith into Hobby Lobby Land

By Dan Krisch |

I'm 0 for 2. Earlier this year, I wrote of my fear that the U.S. Supreme Court would permit the warrantless search of arrestees' cell phones and my hope that the court would reject a company's faith-based challenge to the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act. As it happens, I feared for naught, but hoped in vain: With the court's recent decisions in Riley v. California and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, both the secrets in our iPhones and the religious beliefs of our corporations are sacrosanct.

John Browning

Opinion: Researching Jurors On The Internet Is Not Just Permissible, But Necessary

By JOHN G. BROWNING |

On June 30, the Law Tribune published an editorial "A Troublesome Opinion Regarding Juror Internet Research," in which it lamented recent American Bar Association Formal Opinion 466. This opinion concluded that there was nothing wrong with a lawyer reviewing a juror's internet presence as long as the lawyer does not initiate contact with the juror (such as by sending him or her a "friend" request).

Opinion: Funding Issues Threaten Community Mediation Centers

It's often difficult to watch the local news on television. Tales of conflict and breakups of relationships leading to unfortunate, often violent, conclusions seem commonplace. How could this be we ask as we watch or read about a terrible outcome? How did the situation get so out of hand? Was there no one there to intervene we wonder?

Gideon

Gideon: Hillary Clinton And The Act Of Defending Guilty People

By Gideon |

People hate lawyers. That's a scientific fact. While some 65 percent of people will, at some point, need a lawyer, 100 percent of them will always make lawyer jokes and consistently rank us between corporate fatcats and congressmen on the "most hated people in America" list.

Opinion: Abolish The Attorney-Client Privilege

By Eugene R. Licker and Amanda J. Sherman |

One of the great myths of the legal profession is that the attorney-client privilege promises absolute confidentiality to ensure clients' full disclosure to their counsel. However, as most lawyers know too well, clients have a natural propensity to engage in self-protective selective disclosure, which may be justified given the many exceptions to the supposedly clear, certain and reliable rule and the vigor with which most counsel attack their adversaries' invocation of the privilege.

Dubois-Mark

Mark Dubois: Mortgage Scams Are Bad Risk for Lawyers

By Mark Dubois |

One of the many things I do a lot lately is talk. I am the floor show for many bar meetings. I recently did two of these with a very nice lawyer from the U.S. Attorney's Office, David Huang. They were both about mortgage fraud and how easily some lawyers got ensnared in a federal criminal prosecution.

Pattis-Norm

Norm Pattis: State Endorses Accused Killer's Goofy Defense

By NORM PATTIS |

There is something perversely delightful about the state Supreme Court's decision in the case of State v. Lishan Wang. Call it the revenge of informed consent in legal ethics.

Pattis-Norm

Norm Pattis: State Should Take Hard Look At Plea Bargaining

By NORM PATTIS |

I've noticed a certain uneasiness in the chambers of several judges. They don't like talking about plea bargaining in any public way. Indeed, in one case, the state prepared a draft of a waiver a client was going to sign as a condition of entering a plea. The state included the term "plea bargain" in the document.

Amy Goodusky: A Legal Disclaimer For The Equine Industry

By Amy Goodusky |

As it now seems that the behavioral dysfunctions of horses have been attributed to the inherent viciousness or mischievousness of their species, which evolved from a corgi-sized, cloven-hoofed herbivore into a large legal liability, with attendant concerns about their potential to bite, snuffle, drool, roll on the ground in the muddiest possible area just after being bathed, and to appear at their most endearing when they are doing something terrible, like breaking into the grain bin or chewing the new fence, I will need to give unsuspecting humans a heads-up.

Dubois-Mark

Mark Dubois: Internet Ads Put Ethics Rules To The Test

By Mark Dubois |

The Indiana Supreme Court recently reprimanded a lawyer for participation in a lawyer-client matching scheme, writing the latest, though clearly not the last, chapter in the saga of pounding the square pegs of lawyers' ethics rules into the round holes of technology.

Attorney Dan Krisch

Dan Krisch: One Of Conn.'s Greatest Justices Hangs Up Her Robes

By DAN KRISCH |

I am paying fond tribute to a mentor. Late last month, former Connecticut Chief Justice Ellen Peters announced her retirement after nearly four decades as an appellate jurist. As is her wont, Justice Peters was self-effacing at her retirement ceremony – she mainly spoke about the influence on her career of two of her colleagues, former Justices Robert Glass and David Shea – so I will boast a bit on her behalf:

Pattis-Norm

Norm Pattis: Rules Of Evidence Tortured At Administrative Hearing

I generally try to stay out of administrative hearings of any sort. Putting on evidence without the reliance on the code of evidence seems too much like, well, sex without a condom. Poking and prodding without protection is going to yield all sorts of infection.

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Mark Dubois: GM Crisis Highlights Confidentiality Issues For Lawyers

By MARK DUBOIS |

As GM continues to reel under the fallout over whether it hid or downplayed the seriousness of the problem with the ignition switches on some of its vehicles which had led to injury or death in some cases, attention is turning to its lawyers.

Lawyer Peg Sheahan

Opinion: Is It OK For Employment Lawyers To Represent Management And Workers?

By MARGARET SHEAHAN |

For more than 34 years, I've been practicing employment law in Connecticut. For about 30 of those years, I routinely identified myself as a management-side employment lawyer. However, I don't do that anymore because it's not true.

Amy Goodusky: The All-New Connecticut Bar Exam

By Amy Goodusky |

Recently, I took a public speaking commitment. It was just one of those things: I expounded on the subject matter I was expected to cover and—just like that!—I let it slip that I was a practicing attorney.

Pattis-Norm

Norm Pattis: Lawyer Belatedly Realizes That The Government Lies

I've never understood why some criminal defense lawyers feel the need to make a great public display about how they only represent those whom they believe are truly innocent. There's a self-indulgent, almost moralistic quality to such declarations that render the lawyers untrustworthy. And hence my problem with Sidney Powell's otherwise excellent book, Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice (Brown. 2014).

Opinion: Prosecutors Need To Protect Rights Of Crime Victims

By MICHELLE CRUZ |

Often, I am contacted by a crime victim or a surviving family member who will share their experiences with our state's criminal courts. As their story unfolds, the frustration is palpable. The broken dreams and loss of innocence caused by the perpetrator is augmented by their devastation that justice is often elusive at best, and a fiction to many.

Opinion: Lawyers Face Unfair Burden At Social Service Department Hearings

By Beverly Hodgson |

How would you like to have a claim in court and find that the person who is giving advice to the judge is your opponent? How would you like it if that advice were given without you having an opportunity to be heard?

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Mark Dubois: Law School Graduation Speeches Not So Inspirational

By By MARK DUBOIS |

I read that the best part of Harvard's Law School's graduation this year was Mindy Kaling's speech which included telling the graduates that some of them were evil (it's a statistically defensible argument), that some of them would spend their careers defending BP from seagulls (also true), that some of them would make "serious bank" (again, true) and that she wanted to marry the cutest of them (an ill-considered but clearly wise move).

Pattis-Norm

Norm Pattis: Governor Has Final Word On Judicial Pension Measure

By Norm Pattis |

Oh, Dannel, what a disappointment you are. The governor's been pumping the judiciary full of geriatric pals, positioning them for $100,000 a year pensions after serving a few short years on the bench. When lawmakers tried to put an end to the practice, the governor's men tucked an amendment onto the legislation. It's politics as usual in Hartford.

Gideon

Gideon: It's Criminal How Connecticut Treats Its Children

By Gideon |

For the second year in a row, the legislature of Connecticut has failed our children. No, I'm not talking about the children affected by the Common Core educational standards, or the children affected by increasing gun violence, but the children that no one cares to think of as children: juvenile delinquents, as they might've called them back in the 60s.

Dubois-Mark

Mark Dubois: Anti-GAL Crowd Gives Rules Committee An Earful

By Mark Dubois |

If what I saw the other day at the Rules Committee hearing on proposed Practice Book changes is any indication, the Judicial Branch (and all of us) are in for a rough year ahead.

Pattis-Norm

Editorial: Electronic Snooping Threatens Our Freedom

By Norm Pattis |

Did you catch the news that Eric Holder and the geniuses at Justice persuaded a grand jury to indict five members of the Chinese military? The superhackers are charged with computer crimes: they've been snooping in the electronic entrails of American corporations, by golly. That's a federal crime, the administration claims.

Attorney Dan Krisch

Dan Krisch: When Judges Quote Jimi Hendrix

By Dan Krisch |

I am getting ex-cited. The heart of any well-crafted opinion is its citations—whether it's Black's or Blackstone, Corbin on Contracts or Hazard on Ethics, proper authority is the lifeblood of stare decisis. To resolve certain issues, however, a typical cite just won't do, so judges put down the United States Reports in favor of other, less-august sources:

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Mark Dubois: SCAM or SCUM? Either Way, Change Is Afoot

By MARK DUBOIS |

In both big law and tiny law today, however, technology is changing not just how we do our work, but what our work is. That is a huge shift. I have never done a tweet. (Is "done" even the proper verb?) I don't know a ShapChat from a Reddit. The only time I took a selfie was when I asked to borrow a friend's phone and pressed the wrong button.

Opinion: Rubin Carter And The Justice System's Failures

By Myron Beldock, Leon Friedman, Lewis M. Steel |

We were the lawyers for former middleweight boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter and John Artis during the many years they fought against their unconstitutional convictions in the New Jersey courts for murder. They were falsely accused and twice convicted of killing three white people in a Paterson bar in 1966.

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Norm Pattis: The Right To Shave Is A Cutting-Edge Legal Issue

By Norm Pattis |

A criminal trial, a former law school professor once said, is nuclear war at 30 paces. That struck even me as harsh. I don't care to be incinerated myself in the conflagration. But the point is well-taken—everything matters in the trial of a criminal case, even the appearance of the defendant.

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Mark Dubois: Paying Lip Service To Confidentiality And Privilege

By MARK DUBOIS |

I got a call from a lawyer the other day. A colleague had been served with a search warrant for a client's file. It appeared that the focus of the investigation may have been related to claims of fraud.

Diane Whitney

Opinion: Marijuana Dispensaries Should Be Put On Main Street

By DIANE W. WHITNEY |

Medical marijuana is now legal in Connecticut, though still not legal under federal law. Control over the industry is in the hands of the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP), which has chosen four companies to operate grow facilities and six to operate dispensary facilities.

Pattis-Norm

Norm Pattis: Small Victory A Gift In Gifting Tables Case

By Norm Pattis |

I am generally uncomfortable when a client, or a client's family, decides to attend appellate arguments in the state or federal courts. So much is generally at stake, and the nature of the public proceedings are so opaque, that trying to explain the significance of what is happening is almost impossible.

Attorney Dan Krisch

Dan Krisch: Thirty Pounds Of Pot And The Fourth Amendment

By DAN KRISCH |

I am fearful for the Fourth Amendment. Last month in Navarette v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a traffic stop based solely on an anonymous tip that an identical-looking truck had run the tipster's car off the road.

Amy Goodusky: The Green Building Blues

By AMY GOODUSKY |

Our law office recently moved to a new, state-of-the-art building. The building is "environmentally friendly," boasting a variety of features which are arguably designed to save energy. As my mother was wont to say, "all very well in theory, but never in practice."

Dubois-Mark

Mark Dubois: When Our Idols Fail Us

A few months ago came another report of one of us supposedly stealing money. That's not really news. In fact, it used to happen so frequently that when I was prosecuting these cases I had trouble keeping track of who had (allegedly) stolen what.

Opinion: Who Really Gains From Preferential Treatment?

By Nancy DiTomaso |

In the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action on April 22, a 6-2 majority upheld an initiative passed by Michigan voters to ban the use of race, gender and other such categories in government decisions, especially in school admissions. This initiative barred universities in Michigan from taking race into account in admissions decisions.

Pattis-Norm

Norm Pattis: Farewell To A Beloved Mother-In-Law

By NORM PATTIS |

I am morose and mopey today. The death of a loved one does that. You see, my mother in-law died just the other night. We knew she was failing. Indeed, I'd gone to see her a couple of weeks ago to say my farewell.

Attorney Mary Mintel

Opinion: Remediation Obligations Create Confusing Environment

By JOHN BASHAW and MARY MINTEL |

Connecticut, like many other states, has numerous contaminated properties. The contamination could be because of historic conditions or more current releases. Eventually, some entity will become responsible for investigating and remediating that contamination as a result of an administrative order, judicial decree, settlement, contractual agreement or through Connecticut's Transfer of Establishments Act (Transfer Act) (Connecticut General Statutes §§ 22a-134 et seq.).

Gideon

Gideon: For Latino Defendants, No Se Habla Justicia

In 2013, the top 10 countries of deportation by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were Latin and South American, which suggests that a fair percentage of people who end up having brushes with the criminal justice system may not claim English as their primary language.

Dubois-Mark

Mark Dubois: I Disclaim This Disclaimer

By Mark Dubois |

One of the "best practices" these days for websites is the use of a disclaimer to avoid the creation of an attorney-client relationship. Sometimes folks ask me for a form. Here is one that a friend sent: