There is absolutely no need for mandatory continuing legal education in Connecticut. For many years, the state has had one of the most educated bars in the United States.
There is absolutely no need for mandatory continuing legal education in Connecticut. For many years, the state has had one of the most educated bars in the United States.
A Washington Post article published earlier this year, written by a Stanford law professor and supported by Bureau of Labor statistics, announced that "law is the least diverse profession in the nation."
When, during public comments last month, FBI Director James Comey linked increased scrutiny of police conduct to an increase in violent crime, the White House almost immediately fired back that there was no evidence to back up his assertion.
While many jurisdictions are reviewing solitary confinement's use, Connecticut is being used as a model. (The Department of Correction uses the term "administrative segregation.")
Gov. Dannel Malloy recently announced two new criminal justice proposals, one of which examines how we treat people aged 18 to upward of 24 in our system.
We previously have highlighted the importance of drone regulation in Connecticut and urged the General Assembly to act.
Legislators tend to lash out at whistleblowers, activists and investigators when favored businesses — or entire industries — are caught doing something bad. A recent decision from the U.S. District Court in Idaho should be instructive to Connecticut legislators when the temptation to penalize, or criminalize, protected speech may arise.
For almost 40 years, ever since the U.S. Supreme Court gave its constitutional blessing for the states to promulgate death penalty legislation that would not in theory and practice be arbitrary and capricious, the criminal defense bar in Connecticut, consisting of a public defender/private criminal defense partnership, has doggedly and unflinchingly attacked the death penalty machinery.
After the shooting in Ferguson and the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, there has been an understandable call for more police accountability. However, it is important to keep in mind that there is a dispute as to whether there is an "epidemic" of unjustified police shootings or just an increase in reporting.
In July, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reversed years of contrary decisions in a case where the complainant alleged he was not promoted because he was gay.
The issue of "unpublished" decisions received national attention earlier this year when the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for a writ of certiorari taken from an unpublished opinion.
How often has the Connecticut Supreme Court stated that "supervisory authority is an extraordinary remedy that should be used sparingly. … Although appellate courts possess an inherent supervisory authority over the administration of justice … [that] authority … is not a form of free-floating justice, untethered to legal principle. … Our supervisory powers are not a last bastion of hope for every untenable appeal. [Rather] they are an extraordinary remedy. … Constitutional, statutory and procedural limitations are generally adequate to protect the rights of the defendant and the integrity of the judicial system. … Thus, we are more likely to invoke our supervisory powers when there is a pervasive and significant problem … or when the conduct or violation at issue is offensive to the sound administration of justice." Well, look again.
It was once generally agreed on that a college scholarship was sufficient compensation for college athletes who received the benefit of a college education in exchange for their hard work and dedication in representing their colleges and universities on the athletic fields.
The Connecticut Supreme Court recently provided sound guidance and continued support to the arbitration process of dispute resolution.
We have addressed in these pages the issue of nonlawyer ownership of law firms, and have made known our opposition to that ill-conceived concept, which has taken root in Australia, England, Wales and even in the District of Columbia in this country.
Congratulations to Justice Robert Berdon, who patiently served on the Supreme Court for years waiting for the "majority" of the court to catch up to him. It was first in 1996 when all seven justices on the court considered an appeal challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty under the state constitution.
Gov. Dannel Malloy recently signed a bill that reduces the penalty for possession of a small amount of drugs from a felony to a misdemeanor. The rationale for this change is to avoid giving young offenders a felony record that could have negative collateral effects on the offender (like difficulty getting employment).
The re-incarceration of a former governor, a former state senator convicted of election finance fraud and a former mayor who spent several years in prison for violating the public trust running for office in our largest city have once again raised questions about how Connecticut governs itself.
Moore's Law predicted a biennial increase in computer processor speed (more accurately in integrated circuitry capacity) whereby processor speed would double every two years.
As a defense lawyer, I've always believed that voir dire in a criminal case is, in many ways, the most important part of a trial. It's an opportunity to make a good first impression; to find out who is likely to accept the theory of the case; to disclose biases and prejudices and, importantly, to determine who can set them aside. I think it is interesting to explore peoples' backgrounds and attitudes, to try and identify people with whom I can communicate and ultimately to get them on the jury. But to do that I need candid information. The usual criminal voir dire process often doesn't produce that.
The political thought police have had a field day trying to purge the country's public and private life of the Civil War's Confederate battle flag. It is hard to argue that whatever the banner's original cultural meaning might have been, it has been usurped by the white supremacist racist movement.
On June 26, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced the 5-4 majority decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, recognizing marriage as a fundamental right for same-sex couples.
The Connecticut legislature is to be commended for unanimously passing a bill that will help the public understand more than just the "who, what and when" of police arrests.
We are used to the usual chaos at the end of every session of the Connecticut Legislature. This year is no exception. But what is exceptional is the last-minute creation of a unitary tax for national and international corporations.
For many years, Connecticut law has imposed a 90-day waiting period upon any party who wishes to be divorced in this state. It was apparently a matter of public policy that imposing such a delay was deemed important to allow a "cooling-off" period during which parties might reconcile. For a variety of reasons, that policy should be reconsidered and the 90-day waiting period should be eliminated.
Renowned Connecticut plaintiffs trial lawyer Ted Koskoff once wrote that the trial of a lawsuit is a lesson in applied psychology.
On May 19, the Connecticut Appellate Court ruled in Tomick v. United Parcel Service, 157 Conn. App. 312 (2015), that the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act (CFEPA) does not permit a judge or jury to award punitive damages against an employer who has discriminated against an employee.
In a shocking admission of scandalous proportions, the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation recently acknowledged that over a two-decade period spanning from the 1980s through the 1990s, an elite group of federal forensic examiners overstated the evidentiary value of microscopic hair analysis.
As 3Ls graduate and prepare to engage in the practice of law, we want to leave them with a few practice tips. While some of these may appear to be common sense, our experience with attorneys who have done all of the below indicate that it may prove helpful to spell these out.
Just over a year ago, we expressed our serious concerns about the Connecticut Bar Association's struggles with diversity. The CBA has made progress in addressing these concerns.
Since 1970, marijuana has been listed as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act, together with such highly addictive and potentially fatal drugs as heroin and ecstasy.
Federal law allows a restaurant to force its servers to relinquish their tips, including to management itself. The restaurant just has to pay its servers the full minimum wage, rather than the lower service wage.
There has been much recent uproar over state efforts to enact state Religious Freedom Restoration acts (RFRA).
We have a national excessive use of force problem in our law enforcement community. The onslaught of examples in the last nine months has moved this issue to the forefront.
At nearly 170 pages in length and consisting of a majority opinion, one concurrence and two dissents, the Connecticut Supreme Court's recent and momentous 6-2 decision in Lapointe v. Commissioner of Correction will be praised by many for correcting a gross miscarriage of justice that had resulted in the imprisonment of a mentally impaired person for 26 years for a crime he likely did not commit.
For as long as there has been more than one law school, students probably have been transferring from the law school where they spent their first year to a school they perceived as more suitable to their needs.
Webster's Dictionary defines sarcasm as "a cutting, hostile or contemptuous remark; the use of caustic or ironic language." It was probably no surprise to most, therefore, when a recent study by a University of California law professor identified Justice Antonin Scalia as the most sarcastic justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Rupert Murdoch posted the following message on Twitter: "Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible."
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been interpreted to ensure a right to counsel in appropriate civil cases in which basic human rights are at stake.
What kind of a message does this send to parolees, let alone law-abiding citizens? That government corruption is alive and well in the state of Corrupticut!
As an entirely unsolicited and hopefully not entirely ignored offering, we ask the Connecticut General Assembly to take the following suggestions to heart.
For more than a half century he reigned as one of the greatest trial lawyers at the bar. From his improbable (only one year out of law school)—but ultimately successful—representation of Dr. Sam Sheppard, charged with murdering his wife, to the brilliant and blistering cross-examination of rogue police detective Mark Fuhrman in the O.J. Simpson trial, F. Lee Bailey did what most trial attorneys can only dream of doing.
This space has recently lauded the efforts of entities helping those released from prison re-enter society in a productive way. So Gov. Dannel Malloy's recent announcement of a number of initiatives under the rubric of a second-chance society is most welcome.
In April 2012, Connecticut became the 17th state to repeal the death penalty. However, the law was written to apply only to crimes committed prospectively. At the time, Connecticut had 11 inmates on death row.
Recently, the Law Tribune published a guest commentary entitled "Elected Attorneys General Prone to Politicized Behavior." In that piece, Paul Nolette, a political science professor, argued that state attorneys general should be appointed to office, rather than elected, on the theory that appointed attorneys general are "considerably less likely to engage in politically activist behavior than their elected colleagues."
Every adult who has tried to keep a toddler from playing in traffic must have been relieved when the Connecticut Supreme Court in January ruled against 17-year-old Cassandra C.'s bid to avoid cancer treatments.
The Connecticut General Assembly must get out ahead of the problems inherent in the uncontrolled use of drones.
An excellent study of Connecticut's costly prison system released last year by the Malta-Justice Initative shows the staggering costs, waste and futility of mass incarceration of non-violent offenders.
Law firms, accounting firms and most other personal service businesses typically use the simple cash method of accounting for tax purposes, pursuant to which income is not recognized until payment for the services rendered is actually received.
The Hartford-to-New Britain 9.4-mile CT fastrak busway is about to commence operation and it is already heading off in the wrong direction.
Last summer, the Connecticut Law Tribune published an editorial titled "Is the Art Trove of the City of Detroit Subject to Liquidation to Satisfy the City's Creditors?"
The Connecticut Supreme Court ended 2014 by laying an ostrich-sized egg when it decided to put Officer Justin Loschiavo back to work in the Stratford Police Department.
The Connecticut Sex Offender Registry has some 5,600 registrants. This boggles the mind. Is there any way to determine which of the people on the registry really is dangerous, or a real threat to the community? The answer is no!
Recently, LegalZoom, the online popular purveyor of legal services, emboldened by its success in thus far avoiding conviction for practicing law without a license, announced it would begin offering its products through Sam's Club, Wal-Mart's big box discount store.
Twelve people were killed last week in Paris for expressing ideas with which others disagreed. Those who disagreed had guns.
The law regarding child support, now codified in General Statutes §46b-84, has been around a long time. That statute, like many other legislative enactments in the area of family law, assumes that our courts will exercise discretion when making child support determinations.
For many of us in the legal community, the demands and responsibilities of clients, court appearances and the endless pressure of the bottom line create stress that can be difficult to surmount.
It may be time for Hartford, and other municipalities, to consider a more organic definition of 'family", and there may be such a definition that will work.
Most of us love a quotable decision that is straight and to the point. Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit gave us just that in his opinion for a unanimous three-judge panel in Baskin vs Bogan upholding a district court ruling striking down same-sex marriage bans in Indiana and Wisconsin.
Judge Richard Posner has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse his own original decision in the landmark case of Crawford v. Marion County Election Board.
It is not yet clear whether the Connecticut Supreme Court will examine the extraordinary prior restraint case that arose in Superior Court Judge Stephen Frazzini's New Britain courtroom Nov. 24.
In an effort to end segregation in housing, 46 years ago Congress passed Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, also known as the Fair Housing Act (FHA). The statute declares: "It is the policy of the United States to provide, within constitutional limitations, for fair housing throughout the United States."
Like the rest of us, courts and judges have found themselves in the Digital Age. The convenience of email is a miracle, and it's no wonder everyone (or so it seems) takes advantage of it. Sometimes it gets us in trouble. Ask former Chief Judge Richard Cebull of the U.S. District Court for Montana.
State court prosecutors in Connecticut should carefully exercise their charging function, and should not let the police determine charges in warrantless arrests.
Every year in the fall, First Amendment advocates join librarians, teachers, and journalists to celebrate Banned Books Week.
According to Wikipedia, the term "political correctness" refers to enforced language, ideas or policies that address perceived discrimination against political, social or economic groups.
What should happen when a person in possession of a firearm tells a family member or a counselor that he intends to shoot himself or someone else?
We mourn the passing of one of Connecticut's greatest citizens and a giant of the bench and bar. Judge John T. Downey died Nov. 17 at the age of 84
A decision released this past summer by the Connecticut Appellate Court, CitiMortgage v. Rey, No. AC 35539 (June 3, 2014), makes for a fairly dry read, but it's important and may materially alter the playing field between mortgage lenders and borrowers.
When it comes to trial management, there are aspects of divorce trials that deserve special attention and consideration.
For individuals who have been arrested, the Internet can be a devastating place. Regardless of how their cases were resolved, an online arrest record can permanently haunt a person.
The U.S. has long resisted a comprehensive policy on data privacy or on individual privacy in general.
There is a new phenomenon called "forgotten baby syndrome"—at least that's the medical explanation for how a parent can walk away from a car without realizing his child remains behind.
The recent unrest in Ferguson, Mo., should be a wake-up call for Connecticut's prosecutors to engage their constituents now. When the citizenry becomes disconnected from its institutions, a lack of trust is sure to follow.
Nearly every law school in America is facing declining applications. Nationally, the level of applications has declined back to the level of 1976.
The Connecticut Bar Examining Committee has taken an admirable but long overdue step to amend its questions regarding mental health.
Analysis of the Hobby Lobby decision has swirled across news and social media since its June 30 release.
For well over a decade leaders in the organized bar have focused on the quality of civility and professionalism among lawyers.
Recently, counsel for a Connecticut independent school prepared a memorandum on the role of trustees. This checklist exemplifies many sound board practices and may be useful guidance to other boards of nonprofit entities.
The practice of law is a people business, centered largely around relationships. Having connections helps get clients, jobs, referrals, interviews, leadership positions and even award nominations.
When the state is undertaking the construction of a building, like any other owner would in the private sector, there is simply no reason to allow its representatives to escape the consequences of inexcusable delay in exercising the state's rights.
We encourage attorneys to embrace panel voir dire jury selection in Connecticut state civil trial courts.
It was recently announced that a Connecticut attorney has been suspended from practice for four months and prohibited from representing women for the rest of his legal career.
Is paying a law student for the services he or she renders in an externship so fundamentally inconsistent with the educational objectives of such a program that academic credit should not be awarded to the student?
In any community in America, police incident reports are at the center of the media's hard news coverage, providing an ongoing record of where criminal events are flaring up, and who's involved.
The American Civil Trial Bar Roundtable recently issued a thoughtful, comprehensive and insightful white paper on increasing the professionalism of American lawyers.
Tens of thousands of desperate, poor, vulnerable children need and deserve our protection and to be treated with respect.
While part-time schedules for lawyers may be different from those in other professions, we think they are still feasible.
I had to double check to make sure I wasn't reading an article in The Onion a few weeks ago when Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane argued in the New Haven Register that the way to ensure "conviction integrity" was to give his prosecutors broader, unchecked power to conduct investigations and arrest citizens of Connecticut.
On July 21st, HBO will begin airing "The Newburgh Sting," a documentary that focuses on four U.S. citizens prosecuted as "home-grown terrorists." The movie premiered at this year's TriBeCa's Film Festival.
At its best, a great work of art is an object which consoles the spirit in difficult times, and inspires one's life in better times. Unfortunately, to a great extent it has now become a "commodity," bought, sold, and donated primarily because of its inherent value.
In what will hopefully be the death knell of an ill-conceived and poorly executed policy, the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division recently have warned local and state departments of education that the application of zero tolerance in student discipline policies is a potential basis for a finding of discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin.
Over the last decade, employers have more and more often incorporated jury waiver or mandatory arbitration clauses into their employment arrangements to avoid the perceived horror of facing jury review of the way they treat their employees. These clauses are often presented in circumstances that many argue are deceptive, if not downright coercive.
In a pathetic display of political posturing on both sides of the aisle, the Connecticut Senate, for the second year in a row, failed to raise the juvenile-sentenced-as-an-adult "second-look" bill. Oftentimes when one wants to look at systemic inertia and the barriers to enacting sound criminal justice policy, one can usually lay the blame on political gamesmanship.
In a recent formal ethics opinion, the American Bar Association found that attorneys can research prospective jurors on the internet, including social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter, and use that information in the jury selection process.
For nearly half a century, the federal government has backstopped the National Flood Insurance Program. The program helped real estate owners and assisted development in flood hazard areas by insuring homes and businesses. Protection comes at a cost, however, and a series of large storms beginning with Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and culminating in Hurricane Sandy left the flood insurance program $24 billion in debt and the federal government on the hook for the shortfall.
Last October, a Connecticut Law Tribune editorial asked "When Will Health Care Be Free From Discrimination?" The Law Tribune editorial asked Connecticut employers to step up and meet the legal and social challenge presented by health-care discrimination and eliminate the blanket exclusions in health insurance policies for gender identity-related medical treatments.
The Charla Nash case brought national attention to Connecticut's bizarre process for suing the state. Nash was the victim of a brutal attack by a friend's chimpanzee. She suffered horrific injuries and underwent a face transplant along with multiple surgeries that cost millions of dollars.
The current scandal in the Department of Veterans Affairs is a failure of the VA's leadership to run the agency in the veterans' best interest and a failure of Congress to provide needed resources.
The case of Army Sgt. Bowe R. Bergdahl deserves the attention it's getting, but it's important that some basics be kept in mind as the national discussion crests. First, regardless of what you think he may have done, Bergdahl is entitled to be presumed innocent.
By now, everyone is fully aware of the ongoing debate over guardians ad litem, attorneys for minor children, and the various criticisms of judges and virtually all of the legal professionals involved in contested divorce and family matters involving children. In the legislature, bills have been passed. In the Superior Court Rules Committee, changes to the Practice Book are being drafted.
On May 12, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services proposed a rule to amend current regulations so that certain spouses of temporary H-1B specialty occupation workers may work in the U.S. USCIS does not now extend work authorization to H-4 spouses of H-1B workers.
Former Superior Court Judge Beverly Hodgson in her opinion piece, "State Agency Needs To Change Rules For Hearings" (Connecticut Law Tribune, May 30) had it exactly right in urging enactment of P.A. 14-209, "An Act Concerning Administrative Hearings Conducted by the Department of Social Services." The legislation is awaiting action by the governor, but there are rumors that some people are encouraging him to veto it. What a mistake that would be.
U.S. District Judge Robert Chatigny spoke at the recent memorial service for Jacob Zeldes, a Bridgeport lawyer many considered the dean of Connecticut criminal law. The judge ended on a personal note.
One of the many things that people were concerned about as the detentions and military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, started to unfold was that they might spawn some really bad caselaw.
Connecticut is racially, ethnically, and economically segregated. This segregation hurts us all because it keeps people of color, who on average earn about half of whites, from equal access to critical resources like good schools.
There has existed for some time a tension between two provisions commonly found in consumer contracts of adhesion; i.e., the requirement that all claims be resolved by arbitration and the prohibition against any claims being pursued in a class action.
The explosion of social media outlets forces trial lawyers to ask themselves: How far can we go in conducting online research about jurors, their families and friends? Before the advent of the electronic neighborhood, Connecticut lawyers would shy away from intrusive research into the personal lives of jurors.
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 super hackers 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.
In late November 2013, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat of New York's 31st District, said to his colleagues that while the George Washington Bridge "Bridgegate" incident appeared to have been initiated by New Jersey appointees attempting to influence their home states political process, "the Port Authority remains a bi-state agency. We are linked ...by economic resources, integrated planning and shared oversight responsibilities."
The Connecticut legislature in the recently completed session passed House Bill 5029 "An Act Concerning Sexual Assaults, Stalking and Intimate Partner Violence." This bill was adopted partly in response to complaints by several University of Connecticut students that their sexual assault complaints were not properly handled by the university.
The Editorial Board has previously addressed the question of civil litigation reform and the need to preserve access to the court for all litigants. To have truly open courts, all litigants must have their cases heard on the merits, regardless of the size of their case or their financial ability to afford a protracted legal battle.
Looking at excessive litigation costs and time delays as techniques in themselves by which a party can force settlement is a distortion of what the civil justice system is intended to be.
The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued the most welcome news that it will be implementing a voluntary plan known as Guidance 213, instructing the agricultural industry to phase out the use of certain antibiotics added to animal feed to help them livestock gain weight faster on less food.
The New York legislature recently proposed the "Safe Weapon Storage Act," otherwise known as Nicholas' Law, having found that "the presence of unsecured, easily accessible, weapons in homes and other places increases the likelihood of death or injury from accidents and impulsive acts.
In September 2013, the highest court in the Dominican Republic issued an immigration ruling that sparked outrage throughout the international community. The court ruled that any person who was born in the Dominican Republic to parents who were illegal immigrants would not be considered a legal resident of the Dominican Republic.
Changes in the legal marketplace are causing legal educators to rethink the nature, purpose and substance of legal education. As reported in these pages, Timothy Fisher and Jennifer Gerarda Brown, the recently appointed deans of the University of Connecticut School of Law and Quinnipiac School of Law, are enthusiastically and energetically embracing the opportunity to review old assumptions about what it means to be an attorney.
The snow of a fierce Connecticut winter has finally melted, releasing its icy grip on the land. The time is now upon us to repair stone walls. We can also fix a poetic injustice in Connecticut's legal literature.
We in the common law world pride ourselves on our adversary system, where lawyers make the best arguments for opposing sides and judges decide which is the stronger argument. There is of course another world out there, the civil law world, where lawyers play a more modest role because the judges do much of the advocating, supposedly for the truth rather than for any particular party.
By now, every collegiate sports fan is aware that the National Labor Relations Board's Chicago regional office has declared Northwestern University college football athletic scholarship recipients eligible for union representation.
As anyone who has driven on Interstate 84, I-91, and especially I-95 knows, our interstate highway system is rapidly deteriorating. And that's true not just of interstates in Connecticut, but nationwide. Potholes, crumbling pavement, and weakening bridge supports need to be repaired sooner rather than later.
The Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) has one last opportunity to put the brakes on a radical utility line-clearing proposal that would remove any tall tree growing within eight feet to the right and to the left of utility distribution lines, from ground to sky, regardless of the health of the tree.
If the profession is to be successful in diversifying the bar, then the volunteer bar associations must take the lead. It is unreasonable for bar associations to sit back and publicly lament the lack of diversity among law firm partnerships or in the judiciary, all the while failing to elect a lawyer of color to lead their organizations.
Much has been written about the simultaneous shortage of employment opportunities for lawyers and affordable legal services for persons of moderate means. Less has been said about the opportunities that this market situation might provide for addressing both of those problems.
In October 1902, in the midst of a months-long strike by the United Mine Workers Union, the coal operators' representative, George Baer, flatly refused to meet with the UMW's president, John Mitchell. Baer said that Mitchell was "only a common coal-miner, who worked with his hands for 15 years, and was now a labor agitator."
We have heard quite a lot of late about the rule of law in Connecticut and elsewhere. The Connecticut Bar Association even sponsored two seminars in recent years on that precise subject. One of the speakers, a top business leader in Connecticut, raised many eyebrows when he said one of the reasons he would prefer to do business in China rather than in Russia is that China, in spite of all the differences from our legal system, takes the rule of law more seriously than Russia does.
All of us in Connecticut should be proud of the rising prestige of our University of Connecticut, originally founded as an agricultural college in Storrs in 1881. The 2014 edition of "Best Colleges," published by U.S. News & World Report, ranks UConn as the 57th best national university in the country, obviously behind such eminences such as Princeton, Harvard and Yale, but ahead of Syracuse, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Rutgers, etc.
On Feb. 26, 2014, Noah Kai Newkirk said a few words at the Supreme Court of the United States. The problem was that he was not supposed to be speaking; he was there as a spectator.
Part of the role of Connecticut's Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services is to de-stigmatize the image of mental illness, to promote understanding and to encourage treatment.
Once upon a time — say, last October — someone stole a significant amount of jewelry from a home in which he was working as a contractor. He drove directly from that home to a store that widely advertises that it purchases gold, jewelry, coins, and the like, and sold the jewelry.
In May 2012, only five years after the international, white shoe law firms of Dewey Ballantine and LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae had merged, the resulting mega-firm, Dewey & LeBoeuf, filed for bankruptcy.
Many of us remember that, around 1997, Douglas Perlitz obtained funding to found Project Pierre Toussaint (PPT), a school for boys in Cap-Haitien, Haiti. Initially, PPT began as an intake center referred to as the 13th Street Intake Program and provided services to children of all ages, most of whom were street children.
On Feb. 24, in an editorial called "Support Legal Aid By Keeping Filing Fees In Place" we urged that the General Assembly preserve the source of legal aid funding it established in 2009 by enacting Senate Bill 31. Gov. Dannel Malloy proposed the measure to maintain $5 million in annual legal aid support from filing fee increases by eliminating the sunset provision which will otherwise automatically terminate that funding.
Superior Court Judge Leslie Olear recently came within a hair of being out of a job when her reappointment after eight years in office succeeded in the House of Representatives on a close vote of 78-67.
A recent front page article in the New York Times headlined "Karzai Warned Over Release Of Detainees" told of three members of the U.S. Senate bringing pressure on the president of Afghanistan concerning his country's plan to release dozens of prisoners who were accused of attacking members of the U.S. military.
Buried in the back of a recent issue of one ABA Journal was the American Bar Association's treasurer's report. ABA members should review that report because the association is preparing the ground for a dues increase.
New Haven, like other major cities in Connecticut, is home to private colleges, universities and hospitals. It is also the site of state-owned and -operated offices and facilities. All of those institutions serve residents of surrounding towns as well as people living in New Haven.
The idea to fund legal aid organizations through use of IOLTA funds was a stroke of genius that provided ample financial support and harmed no one. At its peak in Connecticut in 2007, IOLTA funding amounted to $20 Million, and Connecticut's legal aid organizations were supported at a stable and even generous level.
Subsection (d) of Rule 5.4 (Professional Independence of a Lawyer) of the Rules of Professional Conduct is unambiguous and unequivocal: A lawyer shall not practice with or in the form of a professional corporation or association authorized to practice law for a profit if: 1) A nonlawyer owns any interest therein…. 2) A nonlawyer is a corporate director or officer thereof or occupies the position of similar responsibility in any form of association other than a corporation. 3) A nonlawyer has the right to direct or control the professional judgment of a lawyer.
On January 6, 2010, John M. Farren was arrested and charged with 4 serious felonies: attempted murder, 2 counts of assault in the first degree and risk of injury to a child for the brutal and highly publicized attack on his then wife, Mary Margaret Farren in the presence of their 2 small children.
After the initial shock of years of layoffs in law firms, and after years of law students in a panic over the dwindling job pool, one of the groups that has long had some of the best job security in the legal profession is now the target of layoffs: law professors.
One proposal would begin requiring college officials to begin accepting complaints about off-campus assaults from students. Currently, schools are only required to accept complaints if an assault happened on campus.
Edward Snowden broke the law. There seems to be little, if any, doubt about that. The problem is that his case presents us with the same conundrum faced when Sir Thomas Moore refused to bow to King Henry's royal will, when abolitionists ignored the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, and when Rosa Parks refused to take her seat in the back of he bus.
As everyone in Connecticut who reads a newspaper knows, in the spring of 2012 the Connecticut legislature legalized medical marijuana in this state. The Department of Consumer Protection has put in place regulations to govern the use, production and sale of medical marijuana that are clear, thorough and strict.
When a state-insured financial institution fails, and Connecticut taxpayers foot the bill, the public is left in the dark as to the causes of the failure. In Connecticut, as elsewhere, if a state financial institution should go into receivership, the relevant regulatory reports by publically-funded examiners — regarding loans to favored insiders, directors, and officers and politicians — are sealed from public view.
The first week of January 2014 saw the beginning of the penalty phase hearing in Bridgeport Superior Court in the Roszkowski case. This is the case where the defendant has been convicted of three murders including that of a 9-year-old girl.
When an earthquake devastated Haiti in 2010, gender-based violence became more frequent as women living in tent camps had little physical barriers to protect them. Jayne Fleming, pro bono counsel at the international law firm Reed Smith, had the unique idea that she would try to help these women secure humanitarian parole in the United States. The alternative, to do nothing, was not really an option.
Just before the end of 2013, Dr. Kenneth C. Edelin died. Although his name draws little attention today, he became the subject of a criminal prosecution for performing an abortion in a municipal hospital in Boston more than 40 years ago. Occurring not long after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, this is a sordid tale of a young physician and an even younger female patient caught in the cross hairs of a politically motivated prosecution. It is a reminder of the passion then and now over the issue of abortion.
In 2011, the FBI authorized the commission of 5,658 crimes or, as the crime-fighting agency designates them, "otherwise illegal activities." The FBI's mandate, pursuant to 28 USC 533, is to "detect and prosecute crimes against the United States." How did that mission mutate into the approval of crimes?
To The Editor: We were surprised to read the Dec. 12, 2013, Connecticut Law Tribune's editorial "The Myth of Wetlands Enforcement in Connecticut," which describes Connecticut's Inland Wetlands and Watercourses Act, General Statutes §22a-36 to 44 as an ineffectual scheme for protecting our state's wetlands and watercourses.
The Supreme Court then concludes that corporations can be 'persons' exercising religion for purposes of the statute and that, as a matter of constitutional law, free exercise rights may extend to some for-profit organizations.
Law students from all three of Connecticut's law schools currently provide volunteer assistance in the New Haven and Hartford Superior Courts to self-represented individuals seeking domestic violence protective orders. This is a valuable service to the applicants and to the courts, helping to insure that applications for temporary restraining orders (TROs) are properly prepared, and that applicants are informed about what they need to do to have their orders served by marshals and about the court process after the respondents are served.
The lack of affordable housing has been and continues to be a problem for everyone in Connecticut. As a first step toward a remedy, in 1988 the General Assembly enacted Connecticut General Statutes §8-30g to promote opportunities for the construction of more affordable housing in the state.
C. Northcote Parkinson promulgated laws applicable to corporate operations in the 1950s, the most famous of which is Parkinson's Law No. 1: "Work expands to fill the time available for its completion."
On Nov. 29, the Internal Revenue Service published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register intended to provide new guidance regarding the nature and extent of political activities that may be conducted by tax-exempt 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations.
Lawyers have fiduciary obligations to their clients; a special, high level duty of trust. Those obligations include zealous representation and protection of the client's interests, including financial interests. Stealing from a client is in our view a "zero tolerance" offense.
It began with a simple letter: "The City of Danbury hereby orders you to CEASE AND DESIST publication of and/or comment on the deposition transcripts from the matter of DaCosta v. Danbury on www.HatCityBLOG.blogspot.com and/or any other internet and/or social media site, including Twitter and Facebook that are currently in your possession, custody, and control…The reason for this cease and desist is to protect a variety of privacy rights were [sic] implicated the minute the full text of the transcripts were released.
Danbury prosecutor Stephen Sedensky and Michelle Cruz, a former prosecutor and State Victim Advocate, have recently been talking up the need to protect Newtown survivors from sights or sounds that bring back the events of that horrifying day.
The sad fact is that if you want to destroy wetlands in Connecticut and get away with it, you can. It is not that hard, despite what appears to be a comprehensive and strict statutory structure that should stop you in your tracks.
Maybe, during a year when this nation celebrates the sesquicentennial of important milestones from the Civil War and the golden anniversary of pivotal events of the Civil Rights Movement, it is fitting that, just before it ends, Nelson Mandela died.
A common refrain heard after a legislative session finishes and its work product (laws adopted) is reviewed is, "What were they thinking?" Sometimes this question is asked by someone challenging the wisdom of the law even though the language is clear on its face. And sometimes the question is asked because the law is unclear and ambiguous. When that is the case, the courts may, in interpreting a statute, look at the legislative intent.
Connecticut's cities and towns need better, more flexible financing tools to compete successfully for new businesses and jobs. In a world where federal financial assistance is disappearing, and state funds are difficult to raise, municipalities must seek alternative solutions giving them local control over funding sources.
The statistics are stark and unsettling. Lawyers have the highest suicide rate of any profession. Attorneys suffer from drug and alcohol addiction at twice the rate of the general population. And 25 percent of male attorneys and 40 percent of female lawyers experience clinical depression during their careers—once again, more than any other profession.
Until this year, Connecticut's appellate articulation rules were applied harshly to appellants. Briefly, what Practice Book §66-5 said, as clarified by the Supreme Court on numerous occasions since the rule was adopted in 1978, was that if a trial court decision was unclear, it was the appellant's duty (unless the issue concerned an alternate basis to affirm, in which case it was the appellee's duty) to try to get it clarified.
Law schools, since times of the legendary Harvard Dean Christopher Columbus Langdell, have concentrated first and foremost on analytical training of law students. Learning to "think like a lawyer" has been the core of every law school's program, and until the last few decades when clinical education gained recognition, that analytical training has been nearly the sole focus of law school courses.
Currently before trial Judge Eliot Prescott is the issue of whether the Freedom of Information Commission's (FOIC) unanimous decision releasing the tapes of the 911 calls from the Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012 was proper.
Connecticut's own Fred Ury, along with Jordan Furlong, recently authored an article for "Bar Leader," a publication of the American Bar Association's Division for Bar Services. It is a short article but a thought-provoking one nonetheless.
The constitution of the CBA mentions that coordination with other bar associations in the state is a goal of the organization, but it is not clear to what extent that happens. Is The Connecticut Bar Association Meeting Needs Of Members?
Anyone who has worked in a large law firm knows there is a wide range of writing ability among associates, and that junior associates' work product is usually reviewed and edited by senior associates or counsel. The hope and expectation is that as associates receive feedback, their writing will improve.
Recently, the Connecticut Bar Association announced that providing legal representation for the indigent in civil cases would be a top priority for the coming year. This is a laudable goal, but it is not enough.
Any lawyer who deals with real estate needs to know about a Connecticut Supreme Court decision a year ago that may have expanded the potential for landlord and other property owner liability. It is a "sleeper," probably overlooked by many because it comes cloaked in the guise of a dog bite case.
In a recent editorial, "Chilling Effect? Or Permanent Freeze?" (Connecticut Law Tribune, Aug. 12, 2013), we described (our words) "a frightening, Orwellian climate of secrecy, snooping and overreaching by our government," with particular reference to right to counsel, freedom of speech and of the press.
Although many dabble, there probably are few lawyers in Connecticut whose practice primarily focuses on the problems of tax-exempt organizations. Their work concerns the drafting of the organizational documents, the filing of exemption applications with the Internal Revenue Service, wrestling with problems of public charity against private foundation status, avoiding potential tax penalties, and dealing with IRS audits.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg shows no signs of slowing down as she gets older, now having celebrated her 80th birthday. While battling through her illnesses, she has maintained her role not only as an active justice, but also as an active speaker and educator around the world. Her contributions support New York's current proposal to raise the mandatory retirement age of state judges from 70 to 80.
Domestic violence is "a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can include physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse or financial abuse. It is a pervasive, life-threatening crime that affects thousands of individuals in Connecticut regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, sexual orientation or education," according to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV).
A recent conference co-sponsored by the West Haven-based Connecticut Veterans Legal Center and New York City Bar Justice Center highlights the complex and pervasive legal problems faced by veterans of America's recent wars.
It has often been said that a society is ultimately judged by how it treats its weakest and most vulnerable members. Connecticut has done much to promote equality and provide opportunities for all of our citizens – far more than many other states and nations – and has a well-deserved reputation for protecting our weakest and most vulnerable citizens from discrimination.
Are we then being prudent when we conclude that the third year of law school is a boring waste of time? Or is it just as reasonable to argue that the third year provides an opportunity a law student will never again have to hone her skills.
"Jefferson, wake up! They've gone crazy!" blared the headline from the French newspaper Le Monde. American politicians throughout history have squabbled, fought, and even caned each other to resolve political differences.
Last year, the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators passed a joint resolution recommending the adoption by state courts of alternative model language for Rule 2.2 of the Model Code of Judicial Conduct specifically referring to self-represented litigants (SRLs).
Last year, the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators passed a joint resolution recommending the adoption by state courts of alternative model language for Rule 2.2 of the Model Code of Judicial Conduct specifically referring to self-represented litigants (SRLs).
Ailing patients, marijuana growers, prescribing physicians, and dispensing pharmacists are off and running, or maybe we should say "smokin'," with the recent approval of state regulations implementing Public Act 12-55, An Act Concerning the Palliative Use of Marijuana, which legalized medical marijuana in Connecticut.
When Jack Zeldes walked into the room, things seemed to brighten up. Even if you were his opponent, Jack's presence itself was enough to enliven the occasion.
Recently the Connecticut Bar Association announced that providing legal representation for the indigent in civil cases would be a top priority for the coming year. This is a laudable goal, but it is not enough. The civil justice system is broken and beyond band-aid fixes.
While prisoner's rights issues don't usually resonate with the public, we feel obligated to comment on several recent events concerning prisoners here in Connecticut.
The Connecticut Supreme Court recently decided in Barros v. Barros that it is not a violation of a parent's due process rights to exclude that parent's lawyer from a court-ordered Family Relations evaluation.
In the waning days of the 2013 session, the Connecticut General Assembly, without hearing or debate, hurriedly approved a budget provision authorizing the Connecticut Lottery Corporation to operate keno lottery games in Connecticut.
In a previous editorial, the Law Tribune Editorial Board expounded upon the importance of remaining vigilant in upholding the rule of law when determining the response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's criminal use of chemical weapons against his own people.
When Congress reconvenes, the top item of business will be what to do about Syria.
At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 26, 2013, texts, emails, tweets, and Facebook messages were alive with activity about the Supreme Court's decisions striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act's Section 3.
The recent conviction of Dominic Joseph Badaracco for attempted bribery reads like a grade B movie involving a motley cast of characters, including a sitting judge of the Superior Court.
I am writing to the editor in response to your August 8th article concerning the Waterbury law firm secretary accused of stealing $1 million. I am certain that many attorneys in private practices both small and large asked themselves if they too were at risk for something of this nature happening to their firms.
Medical marijuana is about to become a reality in Connecticut. The legislature has legalized it and regulations governing it have been drafted by the Department of Consumer Protection and are expected to be approved in late August or September.
The fabled Penn State Football program has been challenged over the past several years, leading to the firing of the legendary football coach, Joe Paterno (who subsequently died), the ousting (among other parties) of Penn State President, Graham Spanier, and Penn State Athletic Director, Tim Curley, along with the Vice President of Finance and Business.
State statute requires that the state provide payments in lieu of tax (PILOT) grants to towns for property taxes that these towns cannot collect on exempt property. Property tax exemptions are mandated by the state and include private colleges, hospitals and other not for profit landowners.
The past year was memorable for many reasons, not the least being the fall from grace of formerly deemed estimable gentlemen, whose admittedly admirable activities were cited as an excuse to mitigate their offenses.
Cases ranging from that of Army Private Bradley Manning, tried by a general court-martial, to that of fugitive government contractor employee Edward Joseph Snowden raise serious questions that have to be addressed.
Critics of state right-to-work laws, which prohibit mandatory membership in a union as a condition of continued employment in a bargaining unit represented by that union, complain that those who enjoy the benefits of union representation in the collective bargaining process and in grievance proceedings — without paying union dues — are "free riders."
A work of great art is more than an inanimate object — it can succor us as in moments of sadness; in better times it can inspire us to great action. Not surprisingly, such art is protected in many ways.
In a year of historic celebrations, a single U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act puts in perspective what much of that history is about.
In 1986, Bonnie Jean Foreshaw, the first person to shoot and kill a pregnant woman in the state of Connecticut, was sentenced to 45 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
The saga of Zenas Zelotes, the lawyer who championed his right to have an "intimate" relationship with his clients, reached another milestone the other day when Judge Frank D'Andrea ordered him suspended for five months.
It is a rare event when an appellate court overturns a murder conviction based upon improper prosecutorial summation. That is in fact what occurred in the recent decision of the Connecticut Appellate Court in State v. Santiago.
Recent critics of legal education, fueled by the declining market for lawyers and the increasing cost of law school, have advocated wholesale changes in legal education and the legal profession.
The State of Connecticut has enacted numerous laws to prevent bullying and harassment, and to prohibit discrimination of children in our schools. Indeed, just two years ago the state passed new laws to strengthen the old ones, as those had utterly failed to stop the behavior.
Some federal agencies have imposed furloughs to implement the federal sequester under the Budget Control Act of 2011. Lucky for the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder announced in April that the DOJ would have no furloughs this year, even though he had previously said that 14 days of unpaid leave per employee was likely.
If we on the Editorial Board had to come up with a list of the most important cases in the 378-year history of Connecticut, Horton v. Meskill, 172 Conn. 615 (1976), and Sheff v. O'Neill, 238 Conn. 1 (1995), would make the list. Without the persistence of Simon Bernstein, a retired Superior Court judge who died in May at the age of 100, the plaintiffs would not have succeeded in either one of those cases.
How could lawmakers, who received on their desks in the morning a complex, wide-ranging 139-page gun control bill that did not have a public hearing, be reasonably expected to understand the bill and its implications, and, following debate, vote on it early the next morning? Of course, most could not.
At a time when it is fashionable to castigate government for either doing too little or too much; for wasting taxpayer dollars or not making adequate investments, Connecticut's Judicial Branch and its administrators deserve kudos.
Hats off to Chief Justice Chase Rogers, United Technologies and General Electric for creating Legal Corps of Connecticut. Based on the Teach for America model, Legal Corps of America sounds like a win from every perspective.
Chief Justice Chase Rogers has put the issue squarely and succinctly: pro se litigants "clog up the court system. Cases are delayed and lengthened, creating frustration for everybody... Litigants with lawyers are better represented in court, which makes this a significant access issue. Access to justice and to our courts simply should not be a privilege offered to some, but a basic right available to all."
For those privacy advocates who have been questioning the expanded use of security cameras throughout our country, it is time to face the new reality. There is an acceptance of the ubiquity of cameras in today's world.
After years of fading public interest in Guantanamo Bay and its prisoners, recent events have refocused our attention on the situation the United States has created there. More than 100 Guantanamo detainees are engaging in life-threatening hunger strikes, widely acknowledged to be the result of despair over their uncertain fates.
In a thoughtful article published in 2004 in the Connecticut Law Review, entitled "Connecticut Unauthorized Practice Laws and Some Options for Their Reform," Yale law Professor Quintin Johnstone proposed several options for expanding non-attorney exemptions to unauthorized practice of law rules.
Seven years ago, law Professor Tamar Frankel, in her book about the loss of trust and confidence in American business culture, wrote about the commodification of legal and medical services as one example of decline in trust in society generally.
With the tragic results of Hurricane Sandy, the Newtown shootings, and the Boston Marathon bombings, there should be guidelines as to how organizations and individuals, wishing to render help, should proceed.
Judges and litigators agree that discovery disputes stop the adjudication of cases in their tracks. The disputes arise from many sources — overbroad and unspecific production requests, unnecessary depositions, voluminous document dumping, mixing up the order of documents, outright failure or refusal to produce relevant documents — just to name a few.
The Connecticut Bar Examining Committee recently released the names of the applicants who passed the February 2013 Bar Examination. This year, there also will be graduates from the state's three law schools — University of Connecticut, Quinnipiac and Yale — seeking to join the ranks of the legal profession in Connecticut.
Kudos to Justice Sonia Sotomayor for refusing to allow a prosecutor's racist conduct to hide behind an order denying certiorari.
Much has been written lately about the failure of a certain trial judge to act in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes Section 53-183 by failing to issue her decisions within the time allotted in four termination of parental rights actions filed by the Department of Children and Families.
Statutory rape evolved as a concept to protect young people from themselves. If one is between the ages of 13 and 15, that person cannot consent to sexual activities with a person more than three years older.
A little more than 50 years ago, on March 18, 1963, a unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that the right to counsel is absolutely fundamental for any system of criminal justice to be fair. In Gideon v. Wainwright, the Court explained that lawyers in a criminal trial are "necessities, not luxuries."
We recently have seen front page news about one particular judge who has taken far more than the 120 days allotted to decide 10 termination of parental rights cases. We write now not to comment on these particular cases or this particular judge, but to make a broader point: the 120-day rule should be non-waivable or at least difficult to waive.
Homebuyers who have the income to support a loan but do not have 20 percent down are usually required to pay premiums for a policy insuring the mortgage. The Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA), announced proposed mortgage insurance premium surcharges for five states, including Connecticut.
We recently have seen front page news about one particular judge who has taken far more than the 120 days allotted to decide 10 termination of parental rights cases. We write now not to comment on these particular cases or this particular judge, but to make a broader point: the 120-day rule should be non-waivable or at least difficult to waive.
The U.S. Supreme Court will soon decide a case that raises serious questions about the principles upon which American criminal jurisprudence has always rested.
At a time when municipalities face significant cuts in state aid that may require compensatory increases in property taxes, any reduction in state-mandated expenditures is welcome.
As lawmakers and commissioners grapple with what to do as next steps in the wake of Newtown, it is essential to understand what is known, and not known, about violence against children and mental health and their interaction.
A dispute between a professional basketball team and its most recent first-round draft pick illustrates just how difficult it can be for employers and workers to find reasonable accommodations for mental health issues in the workplace and highlights the need for meaningful collaboration.
Law firms and corporate legal departments need to care about the problem of clients who cannot afford to pay for services. Many do already, but many do not. Leadership from the very top is what is needed.
It's time for Congress to provide a legislative remedy by authorizing treatment for PTSD for all who served in Vietnam, regardless of their discharge status. Those veterans have suffered the haunting memories of combat and the resulting disabilities for 40 years or more.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently decided Noel Canning v. N.L.R.B., No. 12-1115, which is certain to be closely studied by government lawyers, law students and professors, and political scientists.
The most recent numbers we have reveals that there are approximately 1.2 million lawyers in the United States. That is one lawyer for every 200 adults. At the same time, there have been great increases in the number of students entering and graduating from almost 200 law schools, resulting in a virtually unprecedented high percentage of unemployed recent law school graduates.
This year the legislature, facing a tight budget, must make some tough decisions on funding priorities. One priority should stand out, that is adequate funding for the Connecticut Forensics Science Laboratory.
On February 19, 2013, the Supreme Court released its decision in Federal Trade Commission v. Phoebe Putney Health System, which involved Georgia's Hospital Authorities Law.
Considerable attention is being paid in Congress, the media and the blogosphere to the use of drones – remotely piloted aircraft — against U.S. citizens and others.
While having a performance-based promotion process eliminates nepotism and cronyism that is often associated with appointments to government positions, studies have shown that examinations that weigh written components of the exam more heavily than other factors have a discriminatory impact on minorities.
Forty-six states have adopted Mandatory (or Minimum) Continuing Legal Education Rules (MCLE) for their respective bars. Connecticut is in that exceedingly small minority that somehow continues to believe that its abstinence is the right way to go.
It is generally acknowledged that Governor Dannel Malloy's recent nominees for the Superior Court bench included some truly outstanding lawyers. Unfortunately, those nominations, coming as they do on the eve of the legislature's consideration of long overdue pay raises for the judiciary, can have some unintended and unwanted consequences.
Meaningful gestures are not always measured by their size. A simple note of gratitude from a recipient of services to those who toil in anonymity on their behalf can outweigh its seeming ordinariness.
The rights of privacy afforded by the U.S. Constitution should have nothing to do with personal wealth. They protect the dignity and privacy of people, not money. But the way Fourth Amendment privacy rights have been applied in recent decades has biased these rights in favor of the rich.
The Appellate Court attempted to resolve an issue that divided Superior Courts around the state. The issue was whether an assignee of a mortgage note could be liable for the assignor's wrongful conduct. In opting for a bright line approach, the court has regrettably instructed lenders on how to avoid the consequences of wrongful conduct toward the mortgagor and even worse, burdened the wronged mortgagor with multiple lawsuits in order to obtain justice. Fortunately, the Connecticut Supreme Court has granted certiorari in the case.
We have honored the late Judge Mark Kravitz for many of his contributions to the law, but one characteristic of his that deserves special note has not yet been discussed in these pages. That was his willingness to recognize and honor the valid points in both sides of an argument, even when he found those points unavailing.
In the federal and state courts of Connecticut, virtually all proceedings are conducted in public. We take this for granted, and it certainly contributes to public confidence in the administration of justice. A recent order of the military judge presiding over the Military Commission trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad is disturbing because it raises questions as to whether that separate system of justice is applying the proper standards in keeping matters out of the public eye (beyond the fact that the trials are conducted at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba).
For a period following the attacks of 9/11, our nation pursued a policy of torturing captives held in our custody. Members of our profession — lawyers – were fundamentally complicit in this torture.
When quoting language in our briefs, we as lawyers may occasionally be guilty of the sin of employing the ellipsis to eradicate unhelpful language or using brackets to embrace more helpful language.
That's what Coach George "Pappa Bear" Halas said to Chief Justice Callahan when he waived him following his pre-season with the Chicago Bears in 1952.
Just as the clock struck midnight, ushering in 2013, Connecticut's laws changed. Two interesting legal changes of note relate to the license to drive, one changing the circumstances under which those convicted of driving while under the influence (DUI) multiple times may drive again and the other using the license itself to facilitate identification of those who have served this country in the military.
After the tragedy in Newtown the public expects the legislature to take action to reduce gun violence in Connecticut. While Connecticut already has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, these laws can be improved.
On December 14, 2012, we saw the worst of humanity and the best of humanity. Following the horrific incident that took the lives of 26 innocent children, schoolteachers and administrators, as well as the shooter and his mother, we saw the world come together.
In our digital world, when using legal information, such as constitutions, statutes, and regulations, working from an authentic version is of the utmost importance.
The next big event on the political calendar is the presidential inauguration on January 20. This is the supreme moment of our national civic life. The oath-taking is of course its centerpiece (let's hope that goes more smoothly than it did in 2009, when Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wandered from the required text), followed by the Chief Executive's inaugural address.
Communications between lawyer and client and lawyer and lawyer are the lifeblood of the practice of law and anything that obstructs timely communications obstructs the practice of law. Case in point: message machines. Empirical surveys show that as soon as a message machine comes on a significant percentage of callers immediately hang up. Why? Because they can't stand to wait through the inane messages before the beep sounds.
Some aspects of being a judge are left to personal discretion. A prime example is whether to recuse. That plainly involves the exercise of judicial power. But even actions that judges perform outside the courtroom totally at their discretion may still at least indirectly involve their official status.
On Oct. 3, 2011, the Law Tribune Editorial Board published an editorial, "Bringing Needed Changes to Probate Practice Book," expressing our view that "[n]ow that the courts have been reorganized, the time has come to deal with the inconsistencies in the practice in these courts."
The "Big Gulp" is no longer welcome in the Big Apple. As has been widely reported, Mayor Michael Bloomberg championed a campaign to limit fountain soda sales in New York City to 16 ounces. That's half the size of 7-Eleven's ubiquitous jumbo-sized soda.
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is controversial for its definition of marriage as between a man and a woman and for the feeling of security it has provided states wishing to avoid any legal recognition of the relationships of same-sex couples and families. Because DOMA restricts marriage thusly, it deprives same-sex couples of numerous federal benefits, including tax, Social Security, health care, and retirement benefits.
Advocates, prospective recipients and service providers have complained for years about the length of time the Department of Social Services (DSS) takes to process applications for assistance. Commissioner Roderick Bremby came to the position with a directive to solve this problem.
The horror of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings will stay with all of us for a long time. Clearly it will stay with the many families who lost family members there for the rest of their lives. Beyond the terrible tragedy of the lives lost there, there is also the damage done to the children who were not hurt physically, but who will be haunted by the terrible events of that day for the rest of their lives.
Judge Lawrence L. Hauser died Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 at the age of 69 after a battle with an undisclosed illness. At the time of his death, he was presiding over cases in housing court at Norwalk Superior Court and on the verge of becoming a judge trial referee.
This being the bicentennial of the War of 1812, and Connecticut having hosted the Hartford Convention, where the possibility of secession was discussed, the citizens of Connecticut have recently given at least modest notice to this less than glorious war. But Connecticut lawyers should give it more notice because it led to the drafting of the Constitution of 1818, on which most of our state constitutional law today rests.
In the latest issue of the Connecticut Lawyer, Connecticut Bar Association President Barry Hawkins addressed the group's efforts, which were a long time in coming, to assess the usefulness and the viability of its standing committees and sections and the diversity of section leadership. As a result of this assessment, the CBA has transformed some standing committees into sections, will "reinvigorate" two sections, and probably suspend another that is struggling.
The district attorneys, especially ones who are elected, make their merchant constituents happy, can devote their resources to serious offenses, and bring in extra revenue.
A little over a year ago, on Nov. 14, 2011 to be exact, in an editorial entitled "State Should Build On Lessons From Irene," we urged our state leaders in the strongest way to stop people from rebuilding in high hazard areas.
In Miller v. Alabama, the Supreme Court limited the use of life terms in prison for murderers under 18, ruling that judges must consider the defendant's youth and the nature of the crime before putting him behind bars with no hope for parole.
Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc on the lives of millions of residents of the tri-state area and beyond. Amidst the destruction, a spirit of community and generosity emerged. All over Facebook, people offered help to their Facebook friends — hot showers, warm food and coffee, a sofa in their apartment to those who were forced to evacuate.
With the 2012 presidential election now behind us, this is the right moment to review this nation's voting process and the review is not a good one. The Preamble of the Constitution famously starts with the words "We the People," and promises "a more perfect Union. " If we want our "Union" to become even "more perfect," we must strengthen our national standards on the voting process, set a floor below which no state may fall, and clarify what voting rights no citizen may be denied.
Connecticut lawmakers have gone too far in immunizing municipalities from civil suits in town recreational areas. A little over a year ago, in response to a jury verdict by an injured biker against a municipal water company, the legislature immunized municipal corporations for negligence in town recreational areas. This blanket immunity eliminates accountability by towns for even the grossest of negligent acts.
Thank goodness it's over. The 2012 election set a new record for campaign expenditures — over $6 billion just for the presidential race. We were treated to a Niagara of television and radio advertisements, many of them annoying even if they supported your candidate of choice. We are entitled to a political "time out," despite the numerous domestic and foreign issues that urgently demand attention. Soon enough we'll have to face those issues, and soon enough, Americans will start to handicap the — egad! — 2016 election.
Regardless of which candidates you supported, you are probably glad that the elections are over, and we can all rest easier as there do not seem to be any lingering disputes to mar these results, as has happened in the past.
The "third party doctrine" provides that when a person gives information or property to a third party, he forfeits his right to protection from warrantless searches and seizures by the government. In the digital age, the continued application of the third party doctrine in modern society would render the federal Constitution's Fourth Amendment and the state constitution's Article First, Section Seven to be dead letters. In order to protect the rights of Connecticut residents, Connecticut courts should follow Justice Sonia Sotomayor's concurrence in United States v. Jones and reconsider the third party doctrine, particularly under the more protective Connecticut state constitution.
Unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly referred to as drones, have already revolutionized modern warfare and, in the near future, will be deployed domestically on a large scale.
The New York state appellate divisions are split, as are the federal circuits, on whether Article 10 of the Hague Convention on Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters (Hague Convention) permits service by mail, in the absence of an explicit objection to such service by one the signatories.
Attorneys in Connecticut are strongly encouraged to conduct significant pro bono activities, but there remains a question as to what the focus should be.
This page would be remiss if it did not add its voice to the chorus of those lamenting the unfortunate passing of U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz. Judge Kravitz recently lost his valiant battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 62. Even when it is inevitable, as it is for all of us, and seemingly imminent because of the circumstances, the prospect of a life ending never prepares us for the reality of death. Judge Kravitz's passing is a loss for his family and friends and the Connecticut and national legal community as a whole.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has never had an easy time in the public eye. If it is not being blamed for delays in the approval of cancer drugs, then it is attacked for foodborne illness outbreaks.
According to Wikipedia, noise pollution "is excessive, displeasing human, animal, or machine-created environmental noise that disrupts the activity or balance of human or animal life." The subject of noise pollution falls within the jurisdiction of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection or the town. But let's examine the state rules.
The waiting rooms in Connecticut's juvenile courts are bare, depressing places. People waiting there are in crisis, overwhelmed with problems that jeopardize their families and the emotional and physical health of their children. Lacking other resources, parents, unfortunately, often bring young children with them.
Although about 75 percent of prescription drugs dispensed in the United States are generic drugs, few consumers realize that if they are harmed due to inadequate warnings on a generic drug, they will be unable to seek relief under state tort law.
Upon first hearing a Wagner opera, Mark Twain quipped that it was not nearly as bad as it sounded. We Americans are now seeing the full effect of the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision on electoral politics, and, indeed, it is as bad as it sounded when it was first decided it in 2010.
We breathe a sigh of relief having learned that the Amity Regional School Board rejected a request to allow narcotic sniffing police dogs to approach students on school grounds, in search for illegal drugs.
It is time for Connecticut to institute bright line rules for when a suit against it will be permitted and when it will not. The current system for granting such permission is out of step with other states that offer clear rules. Moreover, it tends toward capricious grants and denials of suit.
For years, the old New Haven County courthouse facing the Green has been obscured by scaffolding on the front entrance and an out-of-place blue awning over the staff-only exit on the Church Street side. Indeed, as far back as 2007, attorney Jonathan J. Einhorn wrote in the New Haven County Bar Association's publication, Marble Columns, that "[o]ur Courthouse at 121 Elm Street has graduated to permanent scaffolding."
Delay in issuing reasons for judgment has been recognized in the common law since time immemorial by the expression justice delayed is justice denied, most aptly put by Justice Willes of the English Court of King's Bench in the 1759 case Whitham v Hill, wherein Willes wrote: "Delaying justice and denying justice are considered as the same thing in the Magna Carta."
Abraham Maslow (1908-1970), the humanistic psychologist best known for his work on motivation - the Maslow hierarchy of needs - once famously said: "If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail."
The grim prospects of today's law school graduates are all too familiar — inability to pay loans, frustration in job searches and alleged deception by some law schools on employment prospects after graduation. While discussions on a "duty to mentor" young lawyers by established members of the bar are healthy, we believe the entire concept of mentoring deserves re-evaluation as to when the process is most effective.
The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recently issued its final rule for the simplification of the disclosures required for home loan closings. The new five-page form takes the place of separate Good Faith Estimate of Closing Costs, Truth-in-Lending and HUD-1 or RESPA form used to detail the financial aspects of the transaction. The new form may be easier to understand for consumers, but it took CFPB 1,099 pages (and over 200 footnotes) of final rule to instruct lenders and closing agents how to fill it out. The massive final rule begs questions concerning the point of administrative rulemaking.
Recent Judicial Branch budget cuts have had a devastating impact upon Connecticut's community mediation organizations. For decades, the Dispute Settlement Center (DSC) of Fairfield County and Community Mediation, Inc. (CMI) in New Haven provided staff mediators in multiple courts throughout the state.
Once again the individual's right to bear arms has been called into question given recent events in Aurora, Col., and Milwaukee. Once again wholly innocent lives have been taken, by individuals who obtained guns and ammunition legally. The resulting massacres occurred in a movie theater and home of worship, places usually assumed to be safe.
The recent demise of Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP, a megafirm that brought together two respected partnerships, is a cautionary tale. The endgame, according to press accounts, could be nasty unless the interested parties --partners, pensioners, creditors -- are able to negotiate a global settlement.
Superior Court Judge Marshall Berger confirmed at a meeting of the Planning & Zoning Section of the Connecticut Bar Association that a new court is on the horizon in Connecticut -- a court to handle land use matters.
The U.S. and China have one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world, if not the most important. Over the past several weeks, this relationship was tested because of a disagreement over the treatment of an activist, Chen Guangcheng.
The law is not a static thing to be mechanically enforced whenever it may theoretically apply. Rather, the rule of law entrusts an executive official with the obligation to exercise discretion on when and how a legislative act should be enforced. Two recent events, one from rock 'n' roll and one from politics, illustrate the importance of discretionary authority.
With 2012 being the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, attention is directed to Hartford's most prominent citizen of that era, Samuel Colt. Born in Hartford in 1814, he organized and built Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company, which eventually armed Civil War soldiers by providing pistols and rifles directly to northern and, more surreptitiously, to southern forces.
Those graduating from the law school these days face grim prospects and serious dilemmas, and are badly in need of guidance and mentorship. Senior attorneys should feel a strong sense of responsibility, perhaps even a duty, to provide this unsure generation of attorneys with the, at times, tough advice and guidance they need to succeed.
Here we go again. After the proprietary-trading banking crisis, false affidavits of debt, mortgage collection and foreclosure practices so heinous they brought lawsuits from 26 state attorneys general, and the "London Whale" debacle that cost JP Morgan Chase an estimated $4 billion, we now have word that the financiers conspired to manipulate a key interest rate index to hide their financial weakness, and of course, make truckloads of money.
Ever since Chief Justice John Roberts provided the fifth and crucial vote in favor of the constitutionality of the health care legislation, but only because of the tax clause, commentators have been commenting on everything but the rule of law.
When we refer to each judge as "Your Honor," we "honor" that person and we simultaneously "honor" the office of every judge. Importantly, we also "honor" something in ourselves as individuals and as members of a civilized, honorable, and lawful society. Reflecting upon the life of the Honorable Richard A. Damiani, we find something more than "His Honor" or our honor. We find an example of a person who achieved such a level of excellence in the way he lived and acted as a judge and as a human being that he truly enriched the office of the judge and the society that he served so well.
A pair of Connecticut lawyers have pleaded guilty to bilking banks and lending companies out of more than $10 million by participating in a mortgage scheme that involved fraudulent purchases of at least 40 multi-family homes in New Haven.
This past May, the Connecticut legislature proudly stood up against a national trend to hamper voter participation by approving a bill that would allow eligible residents to register to vote on the same day the election is held.
There is a new Treasury Department rule that stipulates guidelines for financial institutions to follow upon receipt of a garnishment order. Those guidelines protect up to two months of federal benefits in the account to be garnished.
It is fitting that once a year we pause to remember important events in our nation's history. It is also fitting that at least once in a while we pause to remember important events in our state's history. Now is such a while.
Watershed changes have occurred in the Connecticut juvenile justice system. "Raise the age" advocates convinced the General Assembly to increase the age of offenders treated as juveniles from 15 to 17 years old when they allegedly committed their offense. Finally, after being only one of three states drawing the line at 15 years, we are in line with the rest of the country.
"Sloppy, stupid, bad judgment, too much risk, barely vetted and barely monitored. A terrible, egregious mistake." These were the epithets used by JPMorgan Chase's Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon on Meet the Press, following the disclosure that his bank had lost more than $2 billion in an imploded hedging strategy.
There are a few land use boards and commissions that continue their hearings until well after midnight. This practice must stop. It deprives the participants of a fair process.
Connecticut's prison population began creeping upwards in the 1980s. Between 1989 and 1999, the prison population almost doubled, and it continued rising until it exceeded 19,000 in 2008.
In the last session, the legislature raised a bill known as H.B. No. 5458. This bill was commonly known as the "Red Light Camera" bill. It did not make it to a full legislature vote and it did not become a law, but it did make it past two committees and it was supported by the governor, so it is still a potentially hot issue.
We all remember Susette Kelo's struggle to save her "little pink house" from the New London Development Authority's efforts to take it by eminent domain for economic development. She fought the authority all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she lost by a 5-4 decision.
Mediation, obviously, is not "new." Lawyers have been mediating cases for many years and courts in nearly every jurisdiction have mediation programs.
Since their renaissance in the 1960s counterculture, alternative papers have thrived on free-spirited journalism and a libertarian advertising philosophy. Strip clubs, escorts and, lately, medical marijuana emporiums, filled countless pages with their ads. Frankly, that is their right, except when the "goods" they are advertising for sale or rent are youth under 18.
New developments in lawyer marketing techniques recently reported in the legal press.
Following up on a request by the Connecticut Bar Association, Chief Justice Chase T. Rogers, Justice Dennis G. Eveleigh, chair of the Judicial Branch's Rules Committee, and Judge Barbara M. Quinn, the chief court administrator, have agreed to create a committee to examine the issue of continuing legal education for Connecticut lawyers. This is a good idea.