The Arbitrariness Of Inherent Supervisory Authority

As I noted in my immediately preceding post, several justices on the Supreme Court are concerned that the court has been invoking its “inherent supervisory authority over the administration of justice” too frequently and, in so doing, may be undermining the integrity of  the judicial system.  Justice Zarella expressed the need for the court to adopt a single, consistent standard governing the court’s use of that authority in order to avoid “the appearance of arbitrary decisionmaking.” 

I share Justice Zarella’s concerns and offer the following comparison of two cases to illustrate why they are justified.

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Some Signs Of Judicial Restraint On The Horizon

In the wake of our state Supreme Court’s decisions in Blumberg Associates Worldwide, Inc. v. Brown & Brown and State v. Elson, I expressed a fairly strong opinion on this blog that those decisions reflected a growing–and troubling–trend in which the Court was increasingly invoking its “inherent supervisory powers over the administration of justice” to justify its decisions.

When I posted my opinions on this blog, I knew a number of members of the bar shared my concerns.  I also suspected some members of the bench did so as well.  As of last week, those suspicions are, well, no longer suspicions.  It appears that at least three members of the Supreme Court–Justices Zarella and Espinosa, and Senior Justice Vertefuille–are thinking harder about just when and how the Court should invoke its inherent supervisory powers.

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The Role Of Text And Tradition In The Interpretation Of Municipal Charters

I argued a very interesting case this morning in the Supreme Court concerning how municipal charters should be interpreted when the text of the charter and the actual, longstanding practice (two decades, to be precise) of the local government allegedly conflict. 

The Supreme Court expedited briefing of the case, DeMayo v. Quinn, this summer so that it would be ready for argument in September.  Now we await a decision. . . .

Rights v. Utility And The Fourth Amendment Ctd.

New York criminal defense lawyer Scott Greenfield, who blogs at Simple Justice, has a terrific follow-up on his blog to my immediately preceding post. His post is well worth reading. (He also has some very kind words to say about my post, for which I thank him.)

Rights v. Utility And The Fourth Amendment

Connecticut public defender and blogger Gideon and I had a spirited exchange the other week about the Connecticut Supreme Court’s recent decision in State v. Kelly, which concerned the legality of a warrantless Terry stop (and resultant arrest) of a person whom the police had no reason to suspect of having done anything wrong, must less anything criminal.  So why did the Court hold that the detention and subsequent arrest of this person was constitutional?  Because he happened to be walking down the street with someone the police reasonably suspected of a crime.  A clear case of “guilt by association” would be hard to find.

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Undergraduate Law Degrees? An Idea Whose Time Has Come (Again)

Check out this thought-provoking article in The Chronicle of Higher Education.  I loved law school.  And I love teaching law (having been on the adjunct faculty at UCONN since 2003).  But law school is too damn expensive.  Law school as a graduate program is a relatively recent phenomenon.  A very good case can be made for offering it as an undergraduate program.

Hat tip: The Dish

Offensive Speech Is Not A “True Threat”

I’ve criticized the Connecticut Supreme Court for several of its decisions over the past year, so I’m pleased to take this opportunity to say this of the Court’s pro-First Amendment decision today in State v. Krijger: “Great job!” 

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A Conversation With Gideon About Searches And Seizures

The following is the first in what I hope will become a series of conversations about pressing legal issues with the anonymous blogger and columnist known as “Gideon.”  Gideon is a public defender who blogs at A Public Defender.  He also writes a column for the Connecticut Law Tribune.  Our topic today: the Connecticut Supreme Court’s recent decision in State v. Kelly concerning the legality of certain types of “stop and frisks” under the state constitution.

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Andy Thibault’s Well Intentioned, But Misguided, FOI Op-Ed

Cool Justic Report author and columnist Andy Thibault recently wrote an op-ed, along with Register Citizen reporter Isaac Avilucea, about their frustrating experience during a recent hearing before the Freedom of Information Commission (“FOIC”). The authors of the op-ed have some harsh words for the hearing officer, FOIC commissioner Matthew Streeter, and how he conducted the hearing. The authors write of Streeter that “his bias and negligence pose a dire warning for any lay complainants who appear before the FOI Commission going forward.” They further complain that Streeter sustained most of the objections raised by Assistant Attorney General Terrence O’Neill (who represented the State Police at the hearing) and also accuse Streeter of “suppress[ing] evidence and statements that normally and customarily would be admitted during Freedom of Information hearings.”

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State Files Opening Brief In Skakel Habeas Appeal

Last week prosecutors filed their opening appellate brief in an effort to persuade the Connecticut Supreme Court to reverse a trial court’s judgment that Michael Skakel’s former attorney, Michael “Mickey” Sherman, did not provide a constitutionally adequate defense at Skakel’s murder trial.  Not surprisingly, the gist of the state’s argument is that the trial judge improperly “second guessed” Sherman’s defense tactics.

According to the Supreme Court’s electronic docket, Skakel’s opposition brief is due on September 8, 2014, although I wouldn’t be surprised if his attorneys’ ask for an extension of time; the state’s opening brief is 247 pages long!



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