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!


News12 Interview On Freedom Of Information

Last Friday, News12 Connecticut’s Tom Appleby interviewed me and Chris VanDeHoef, president of the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association, about recent developments on the freedom of information front in Connecticut. 

Whoever said the camera adds 10 lbs. to a person was lying; in my case it adds at least 20. :)

Don’t Forget To Object To Unpreserved Arguments

Notwithstanding significant recent developments in the law concerning appellate review of unpreserved arguments and issues, the general rule remains that a party cannot raise an issue on appeal unless she has preserved it in the trial court. That rule, however, is not self-executing; it can be waived.  If a party raises an issue for the first time on appeal and the opposing party does not object, the Appellate Court can go right ahead and review the unpreserved issue on its merits.

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Can A Judicial Decision Be Both Right And Wrong At The Same Time?

On Monday the Connecticut Supreme Court released its unanimous decision in an important Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) case, Comm’r of Public Safety v. FOICwhich involved a 2008 request for arrest records by the New Haven Register.  The media and open government advocates, myself included, have expressed considerable disappointment with the decision, which holds that the police (both local and state) need only disclose the barest minimum of information about an arrest.  (Disclosure: I supervised several students from the Yale Law School Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic, which wrote a fantastic amicus brief in the case on behalf of a multitude of media and open government organizations.) Read the rest of this entry »

Hobby Lobby Flowcharts!

Click here for my first stab at trying to make the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision a little bit more understandable. I’ll be adding more information to the flowcharts in the coming days. Read the rest of this entry »

Two Points Make A Line (And Suggest A Troubling Trend)

On June 3, the Connecticut Supreme Court officially released its decision in State v. Elson, one of less than a handful of cases in Connecticut history in which the Supreme Court reversed a trial judge after concluding that he had not committed an error of law or fact. (State v. Ubaldi and State v. Santiago are the only other cases of which I’m aware.)  No trial judge likes to get reversed, but all trial judges understand that the potential for reversal comes with the job.  However, for an appellate court to reverse a trial judge after concluding that he or she did not commit a legal error must really hurt.

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