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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Legal Health Break

The son of Marion Ross (Richie Cunningham’s mom) is a great impressionist. I promise he will bring a big smile to your face. Enjoy!

 


That’s One Hell Of An Accusation Hubie

Hartford attorney Hubert “Hubie” Santos is one of the most respected criminal defense attorneys in the State of Connecticut.  Rightly so. When he makes a representation in open court about a fact that he believes to be true, people listen. Judges listen.  And the media reports what he says.

The Hartford Courant reports today that in a hearing before Superior Court Judge Julia Dewey on Monday, Attorney Santos accused Department of Children and Families Commissioner Joette Katz of intentionally interfering in a criminal prosecution by using her power to have a prosecutor removed from the case.  Santos said:

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Judicial Selection And Incumbent Judges

The Hartford Courant has reported that Superior Court Judge Curtissa R. Cofield, who has received two serious disciplinary suspensions in recent years, is going through the Judicial Selection Commission (JSC) process for reappointment as a judge when her current eight-year term expires in June 2015.

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