Opinion

Columnists / OP-ED

Opinion: Better Oversight Needed For Guardians Ad Litem

By Michelle |

Recently, criticism of the state's guardians ad litem have hit an all-time high. GALs are reportedly withdrawing from their cases left and right, while grievances appear to be mounting. Family court, by definition, is charged with high emotions and children, unfortunately, are at the center of the storm.

Dubois-Mark

Mark Dubois: Don't Try To Muzzle A Client With A Grievance

By Mark Dubois |

I saw an interesting ethics decision out of Kentucky the other day involving an attempt to buy silence in a grievance case. The case was called Kentucky Bar Association vs. Unnamed Attorney. (There are a lot of unnamed attorney cases in Kentucky. This one was Dec. 19, 2013. You can find it on the Google.)

Dubois-Mark

Mark Dubois: Resist Urge To Respond To Flaming Ex-Clients

By Mark Dubois |

The Internet is a cool thing. With a few clicks of the mouse, I can order groceries, pay bills, and find just about anyone I need to contact for my work. Unfortunately, it also provides a ready (too ready, perhaps!) platform for clients and nuts to take shots at us for our real or perceived shortcomings.

Pattis-Norm

Norm Pattis: The Tax On Taking Cases To Trial

I was in the chambers of a judge I respect a great deal trying to reach a plea bargain in a complex case the other day. Well before trial, he made an offer of a given period of years in a case involving many alleged victims. After a trial in several of the cases, a trial in which my client was convicted, we were trying to settle the case all over again.

Opinion: Granting Lawsuit Immunity Erodes Fundamental Rights

By DOUGLAS P. MAHONEY |

In each session of the Connecticut General Assembly, there is an occasional legislative proposal which extends immunity from liability to a select class of persons engaged in specific activities (such as doctors, architects, athletic trainers, etc.).

Attorney Dan Krisch

Dan Krisch: If That Stuff On Those Walls Could Talk...

By Dan Krisch |

I'm imagining a "Night At My Office." When I was young, I yearned to one day have a workspace like my father's: walls and doors and nearly every other available flat surface decorated to the nines with objects de intelligentsia. But now that I have Henry-fied my office—hardly a square foot of bare wall or door to be found—sometimes I wonder what happens when I turn off the lights and depart for the night:

Dubois-Mark

Mark Dubois: Overwhelmed By Old Papers

By Mark Dubois |

I am engaged in an epic project. As part of my duties as incoming president of the Connecticut Bar Association, I have been working in the basement of CBA global headquarters in New Britain trying to winnow essential records and historically significant ephemera from the heaps, piles, drifts and dumpsters of paper accumulated over the last century or so.

Pattis-Norm

Norm Pattis: Great Divide Separates Judges From Lawyers

By Norm Pattis |

I saw U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Meyer on the bench in Bridgeport the other day, and my heart was filled with sorrow. Oh, he looked happy enough, all right, sitting atop justice's pyramid, parsing the arguments of the litigants who appeared before him. He's a brand-spanking-new federal judge who already looks as though he has been presiding forever over other people's troubles.

Amy Goodusky: Spa Lawsuit Is Truly Hair Erasing

By Amy Goodusky |

It was one of those days. Four hundred group emails changing the date, time, location and food preferences for a long-distance deposition; two thumbs down on a case in which the liability had heretofore looked favorable to the home team; a missing check to pay another expert reviewer; both copiers jammed at the same time; three denied motions; and I broke my French coffee press when my suit jacket caught on the handle.

Gideon

Gideon: Cellphones And The Fourth Amendment

If you're like one of 91 percent of Americans who own a cellphone, or the 81 percent who send and receive text messages on that cellphone, or the 60 percent that access the Internet, or the 52 percent that send or receive email on their phones, then the police would love to get their hands on your device.

Opinion: In Defense Of Self-Represented Litigants

By ANNE STEVENSON |

Despite the economic barriers to justice faced by struggling Connecticut families, rising from the ashes of the highly charged public debates over how to reform the family courts is a shockingly insensitive outcry from court industry insiders demonizing the 85 percent of divorcing parents who have chosen to invest in their families instead of attorneys.

Harry N. Mazadoorian: How Is Your Emotional Intelligence?

Among the many justly deserved encomia being heaped on newly invested Yale President Peter Salovey are references to his pioneering work as a psychology scholar in the field of emotional intelligence.

Pattis-Norm

Norm Pattis: Defense Attorneys Overlooked In Judge Selection Process

By Norm Pattis |

Word that U.S. District Judge Janet Arterton will soon take senior status makes this a good time to ask Senators Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy why it is that no criminal defense lawyer ever makes the cut for nomination to the federal bench. It's been so long since a defender was nominated that the failure cannot be explained away as insignificant.

Dubois-Mark

Mark Dubois: Courts May Let Paralegals Serve As 'Guides' For Pro Ses

By MARK DUBOIS |

I heard that New York is going to adopt a system where "guides" or "concierges" pair with self-represented parties in certain courts in order to facilitate the movement of business and allow the judges to return to being neutral arbiters instead of trying to be both judge and advocate for those without attorneys.

Fred Ury

Opinion: The Time Is Now For Nonlawyer Ownership

By Frederic S. Ury |

It's time for the legal profession to wake up and begin discussing what it will look like in five years. A recent editorial in the Connecticut Law Tribune, which takes a stance against nonlawyer ownership of law firms, and columnist Mark Dubois' neutral piece reciting the facts about nonlawyer ownership around the world tee up the ball for the argument in support of the proposition.

Pattis-Norm

Bill Gallagher Had Client Fund Issues? Say It Ain't So

By Norm Pattis |

The suggestion that Bill Gallagher was anything other than a staunch guardian of his clients' rights and accounts is almost inconceivable. Let's hope it turns out to be untrue.

Attorney Renee Bauer

Opinion: I Am A Guardian And This Is Personal

By RENEE C. BAUER |

When you take a job as a guardian ad litem, you never really get to leave the office. Often weekends are when the conflict is the highest and the emails from parties in divorce cases will come rapidly. They are long and accusatory.

Dubois-Mark

Mark Dubois: Self-Represented Parties And Their Histrionic Agendas

By Mark Dubois |

Imagine Mr. Macy (or Mr. Bloomingdale, or Sam Walton) faced with a gang of nutty customers who show up at their stores unprepared to shop for what they need, walk up the down escalators, shop for men's clothes in garden supplies and for children's clothes in automotive, and who confuse underwear and cookware.

Attorney Dan Krisch

Dan Krisch: Shocked, Outraged And Amused Agreement

By Dan Krisch |

I am thinking in two places at once this week. Like many members of the bar, I am outraged that the U.S. Senate refused to confirm Debo Adegbile as head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division because he committed the grievous sin of representing an unpopular client. At the same time, I find myself amused by (and, shockingly, agreeing with!) Justice Antonin Scalia's concurrence in Lawson v. FMR LLC—a pithy shot across the bow of that tired and overloaded vessel, the S.S. Legislative History.

Dubois-Mark

Mark Dubois: Outside Investment In Law Firms Won’t Cause Sky To Fall

By MARK DUBOIS |

I had the privilege of hearing Chris Kenny of England's Legal Services Board speak a few weeks ago at Harvard Law. He is the first administrator of the English government-based lawyer regulation system which recently replaced the traditional model where judges and courts regulate the bar.

Pattis-Norm

Norm Pattis: Chief Justice Seems Lost In Family Law Controversy

You know the state's Judicial Branch is bleeding when the chief justice takes to writing opinion pieces. I am not referring to legal opinions, mind you. I mean op-ed pieces designed and intended to influence lawmakers, as in the piece Chief Justice Chase Rogers penned, or had penned for her, in The Hartford Courant the other day.

Opinion: A Playwright Plays It Right

By Margaret Little |

For those of us who toil in the vineyards of civil litigation, unalloyed good news is rare. Even great outcomes come at too high a cost in fees and what is usually years of delay. Far more often the outcomes are anything but great — either the high cost and daunting process of litigation makes any attempt at justice unattainable, or in the cases that are brought, justice is thwarted or so compromised that it is just a tarnished accommodation of competing financial interests of parties and counsel moderated by an exhausted deal-making judiciary.

Opinion: Law Firms Challenged To Raise Minimum Support Staff Pay To $10.10 Per Hour

By JONATHAN KATZ |

The employees on the bottom rung of the law office payroll often do the tedious work. But, basically, we trust them with our careers.

Peter Szymonik

Opinion: Family Court System Expensive, Inefficient And Abusive

By PETER T. SZYMONIK |

On Feb. 26, there was a historic vote at the state Capitol in which family court Judge Leslie Olear was only narrowly reappointed by the legislature. This vote came after public protests which gained media attention and after legislators were called into action to address the serious problems in our state's family courts.

Dubois-Mark

Mark Dubois: Hey Buddy, Wanna Buy A Lead

By Mark Dubois |

Computers now have an unsettling ability to offer you goods or services apparently based on the fact that you once searched for something. Thus, it seems that every time I go online to read the New York Times, I will see side-bar and pop-up ads for bicycles, tattoos, and (I have no idea why) body part enhancement. Lately, folks have been offering me "leads" to clients who need legal services.

Opinion: Judge Became Pawn In Debate Over Family Court Issues

By Kimberly Knox |

The Honorable Leslie Olear came before the General Assembly for reappointment on Feb. 26, having served the previous eight years with a stellar record. By all accounts, she is the type of judge that Connecticut deserves and needs: smart, hard-working and committed to doing what is fair and just.

Gideon

Gideon: Your Bias Is Showing

By Gideon |

First Judge Michael Sheldon of the Connecticut Appellate Court called it "a deliberate pattern of improper conduct" in State v. Santiago. Then, in another reference to prosecutorial misconduct, a Fourth Circuit opinion in U.S. v. Bartko pleaded "whatever it takes, this behavior must stop." And Chief Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit started a blistering dissent in U.S. v. Olsen with the following: "There is an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land. Only judges can put a stop to it."

Pattis-Norm

Norm Pattis: Family Gathering Ends On Bittersweet Notes

By NORM PATTIS |

I am not going to demonstrate to skeptics that there is such a thing as a sub-conscious, or unconscious, mind. Some of you won't need convincing; you already harbor the belief that things, even seemingly random things, often happen for a reason. But for those of you who regard Sigmund Freud as a quack, I'm going to silence you once and for all.

Opinion: Lawmakers Should Approve Aid In Dying Option

By DUANE LUEDERS |

With the 2014 legislative session now underway we once again have the opportunity to take up an issue of great importance: Aid in Dying (AID). And take it up we should.

Gideon

Gideon: Noted Blogger Debuts At Law Tribune

By Gideon |

My "name" is Gideon and I am most certainly a public defender. I've been practicing as a public defender for longer than I care to admit and in the process of representing individuals, I've picked up a few opinions on the criminal justice system: the way it is, the way it's going and the way it should be.

Dubois-Mark

Mark Dubois: Technology and the Irreversible Trend

By Mark Dubois |

Here's more from my recent infection with the tech bug at the ReInvent Law symposium in New York. As a guy who has practiced our craft for 36 years and is about to become president of the state's biggest bar association, I am keenly interested in where the delivery of legal services is going.

Pattis-Norm

Norm Pattis: Time To Fix The Plea Bargaining Machinery

By NORM PATTIS |

Almost everyone pleads guilty to a crime when prosecuted. Some estimates place those pleading guilty, rather than facing trial, at more than 90 percent of all cases. In order to force defendants through the plea bargaining machinery, the law accepts outright hypocrisy. You can, for example, plead guilty to an offense while not admitting your guilt. That's what is known as an Alford plea.

Dan Krisch

Dan Krisch: Laying Down The Law At The Academy Awards

By DAN KRISCH |

I would like to thank the Academy. At first blush, this year's crop of Oscar nominees might appear to have no connection to the law, but do a little digging and you'll unearth some fascinating legal issues – from admiralty law ("Captain Phillips") to mail and wire fraud ("The Wolf of Wall Street").

Dubois-Mark

Mark Dubois: The Democratization Of The Third Branch Of Government

By Mark Dubois |

I was at a meeting of something called the Council of Bar Presidents the other day. It is part of my duties as president-in-waiting of the Connecticut Bar Association. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing ideas with the leaders of different bar groups about what is working, what needs to be fixed and how we can all remain relevant to the professional lives of our members.

Norm Pattis: Notes From The Forgotten Pile

By NORM PATTIS |

Most practitioners live in fear of dismissal notices from the various courts before whom they practice. There are deadlines for almost everything. Miss a statute of limitations, and call your malpractice carrier. Fail to respond to a motion within a period prescribed by law, and find yourself at the mercy of court's discretion. But what rules govern the timely performance of a court duty?

Amy Goodusky: The Horses Weigh In

By Amy F. Goodusky |

I left a copy of the Law Tribune in the barn. I picked it up and looked at it idly. This was the reason: Vendrella v. Astriab Family Ltd. Partnership had been discussed in elaborate detail in that issue. Although this column verges on dangerous anthropomorphism, here is a meditation about what the horses would say about the case. We join them over a flake of hay.

Legal Tech: Fax Machines Frustration Leaves Lawyer Wired

By MONIQUE MATTEI FERRARO |

A few days ago, I was able to help a fellow lawyer who had trouble with a problem she was having trying to get her fax machine to work on her new phone line. She came in to my office and sat down, looking defeated.

Norm Pattis: 'Bully With A Badge' Let Off With Wrist Slap

By NORM PATTIS |

If you need an illustration of why there is little public confidence in the criminal justice system, look no further than the federal prosecution of four East Haven police officers. The case ended with a howl, and a whimper, this week when David Miller, leader of the eponymous "Miller's Boys," was sentenced, despite the government's plea for leniency, to four months in prison.

Dan Krisch

Dan Krisch: Health Care Law Challenge Threatens Church-State Wall

By Dan Krisch |

I am kicking over a hornet's nest. Religion, that prickliest of subjects, is once again center stage at the U.S. Supreme Court, as Chief Justice John Roberts' Robed Nonet prepare to decide whether a corporate employer may refuse, on religious grounds, to comply with the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act. If that challenge succeeds, it will mark a major breach in the (sometimes porous) wall separating church and state.

Mark Dubois

Mark Dubois: I Have Seen The Future

By Mark Dubois |

I spent a memorable recent Friday in New York glimpsing the future of the legal profession at the Reinvent Law convocation held at the Cooper Union. This was the second time that Professors Daniel Katz and Renee Knake of Michigan State University Law School invited the thinkers and the doers involved in the burgeoning movement to integrate technology and law together in one place.

Amy Goodusky: Scholarly Survey Finds A Hungry Bunch Of Lawyers

By Amy Goodusky |

I have had my struggles with research engines. Possibly, their valve-cover gaskets need adjusting. Perhaps it's the differential. In any event, my last foray into the medical arena of research yielded surprising results. The article came up in a search about nursing care. This was the title: "Facial lesions in piglets with intact or grinded teeth."

XDM 3.8 Compact, 9mm pistol.

Opinion: Gun Lobby's High Court Arguments Betray Hypocrisy

By JONATHAN LOWY and ELIZABETH BURKE |

Most Americans agree that stronger laws are needed to reduce the 30,000 deaths caused by guns each year—especially after the shooting deaths of 26 first-graders and teachers in Newtown.

Mark Dubois

Mark Dubois: Another Lesson In Digital Literacy

By Mark Dubois |

Two or three years ago at a Connecticut Bar Association professionalism symposium, Mike Bowler, the Statewide Bar Counsel, discussed how changes to Rule 1.1, which deals with lawyer competence, now requires lawyers to have technological competence.

Norm Pattis: Massachusetts Busybodies Kidnap A Conn. Teen

By NORM PATTIS |

Massachusetts Judge Joseph Johnson has imposed a gag order on the parents of Justina Pelletier, preventing them from raising public questions about why their daughter remains in custody in the Bay State. It is not at all clear to me why the parents have not contested this gag order.

Opinion: A Sleeping Judge Or Just Another Tiresome Case?

By Norm Pattis |

You know it's a slow news day when a reporter calls for a comment about sleeping judges, as in jurists snoozing during the United States government's presentation of evidence in a criminal case. But U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Burns asleep at the bench? I'd bet my life against the truth of that proposition.

Opinion: Online Search Engine Blues

By Amy Goodusky |

Occasionally, I write something other than this column. I refer, of course, to briefs, motions and other pleas to the court to do something besides what it usually prefers to do. This requires a review of the existing state jurisprudence.

Opinion: Be Neither Wacky Nor Absurd

By HARRY N. MAZADOORIAN |

One of the oft-heralded benefits of arbitration is its finality, suggesting that once the award is rendered any judicial review will be very limited. Under the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), as well as state arbitration acts, the grounds for review of arbitration awards are few and specifically delineated.

Mark Dubois

Opinion: Navigating The Grievance Minefield

By Mark Dubois |

Lots of people file grievance complaints about lawyers. One of the quirks of our system is that there is no standing requirement to become a complainant against a lawyer in a discipline case.

Gary Phelan: Pregnancy-Related Conditions May Be Covered By ADA

By GARY PHELAN |

Normal pregnancies are not considered a "disability" under Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 However, pregnancy may also cause a woman to suffer from an assortment of conditions, such as morning sickness, back pain, carpel tunnel syndrome, severe fatigue, conditions that lead to lifting restrictions, gestational diabetes, hypertension, preeclampsia and prenatal depression.

Dan Krisch: A Day Of Judgment For 'Law And Order'

By Dan Krisch |

I am focusing my critical eye on a smaller screen. When people ask me why I decided to become a lawyer, if I'm feeling succinct I tell them "Law & Order." I fell in love with the venerable series in its early heyday of Ben Stone and Mike Logan. And while I never fulfilled my ambition to become a blue-suited, tough-talking ADA, "Law & Order" has entertained me ever since.

Mark Dubois

Mark Dubois: Independent Contractors Can Present Labor Issues

By Mark Dubois |

Second of two parts. Last week I wrote about the ethics issues related to independent contracting. Now for a bit on the labor issues. As I said in the preface to the last article, I am no labor lawyer. If anything you read in this article gives you pause for concern about how you run your business, talk to someone who knows this stuff.

Norm Pattis: Chilly Winter Generates Plenty Of Aggravation

By Norm Pattis |

I'm from Michigan, so forgive my crabbiness: It is supposed to snow in the winter, and it is supposed to be cold. Why, then, the almost constant drumbeat about snowmageddons, with weathermen and weatherwomen stoking panic at the prospect of a few inches of snow?