When natural and/or manmade disasters hit our state, we often hear governors declare a “state of emergency” and take certain actions pursuant to their “emergency powers.” What are those powers and what is their legal source?
During oral argument today in an interesting Freedom of Information Act case involving historical records about Amy Archer Gilligan, the long-deceased murderer who inspired the play and movie “Arsenic and Old Lace,” Justice Andrew McDonald asked an interesting question about how a person becomes a public figure.
According to Hugh McQuaid’s story in ctnewsjunkie, Justice McDonald questioned the notion that a person can become a public figure (as that term is understood in the invasion of privacy exception to the FOIA) by having that status thrust upon them and whether that status, once acquired, can fade with the passage of time. He seemed skeptical of the first notion and supportive of the second.
The Connecticut Supreme Court will consider arguments tomorrow morning in a case concerning public access to historical records about Amy Archer Gilligan–the murderer who served as the inspiration for the 1944 movie (starring Cary Grant) and the 1941 play, “Arsenic and Old Lace.” It turns out that Gilligan, who used arsenic to poison a resident in her nursing home, spent the years 1924 through 1962 confined to a Connecticut state mental institution, now Connecticut Valley Hospital.
What was the real legal dispute in In re: Cassandra C.? Yes, the specific question was whether a 17-year-old teenager could be forced against her will to undergo life-saving chemotherapy. But, what was the real issue?
Hartford Courant reporter Matt Kauffman has an excellent piece entitled “A Transparency Advocate’s Legislative Wish List.” As the title suggest, the article contains a list of pro-open government measures that he hopes the General Assembly will consider and adopt this session. I support every item on the list.
But making that supportive statement is not the purpose of this post.
Only minutes after hearing oral arguments in the appeal of In re: Cassandra C. (see my earlier posts), the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled from the bench, unanimously, that the 17-year-old teen who wanted the legal right to refuse life-saving chemotherapy was not a “mature minor” and, therefore, could not refuse such treatment.
It is always an honor and a pleasure to join John Dankosky, Colin McEnroe and their guests on “The Wheelhouse,” WNPR’s wonderful weekly news roundtable. Today we discussed: hot issues facing the Connecticut legislature during its 2015 legislation session, which begins today; a fascinating case heading to the state Supreme Court concerning a 17-year-old girl who wants to refuse life saving medical treatment for her very-treatable case of Hodgkin’s lymphoma; and the growing debate over the insensitivity of a local craft brewery in using the name and image of Mahatma Gandhi to promote a pale ale. (I join the discussion about 13:30 into the segment.)
Thanks for having me on the show guys! (And thanks to Chion Wolf for the great pic she took at the studio.)
To the pleasant surprise of just about everyone, Senator Andrew Maynard (D-Stonington) appeared in the Senate chamber this morning and took the oath of office with his colleagues. Former Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams Jr. accompanied Maynard, who apparently did not speak, but smiled and waved to his colleagues.
Two quick updates to the preceding post concerning the appeal in In re: Cassandra C. First, Cassandra’s attorneys filed their reply brief today. The filing of that brief, which responds to the legal arguments the Department of Children and Families made in its brief, concludes the written briefs portion of the appeal. Second, the oral argument in the Supreme Court at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 8 will be televised (I assume by CT-N).
I plan to attend the oral argument on Thursday and hope to have a post-argument post later that day. Stay tuned.
Governor Malloy recently reappointed former state Supreme Court Justice Joette Katz as Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families (“DCF”), reflecting his faith in her ability to run the critically important, but much maligned, agency. And, by accepting that reappointment, Katz revealed that she is either a saint or a glutton for punishment.
The punishment may continue (undeservedly so in my humble opinion) as the public learns more about a case that the Connecticut Supreme Court will hear, on an expedited/emergency basis, this Thursday, January 8. The case, In re Cassandra C., involves a now 17-year-old girl who was diagnosed last September with cancer, specifically, high-risk Hodgkin’s lymphoma. (Several media entities reported on the case over the past few days. However, the existence of the expedited appeal has been reflected on the Supreme Court’s electronic docket since mid-December.)
As Cassandra’s attorneys acknowledge in their appellate brief, “[t]he uncontroverted testimony of several medical professionals indicated that Cassandra’s disease, if treated with chemotherapy, presented an 85% chance of survival, but if left untreated, presented a near certainty of death within two years.” See Joint Brief of Respondent Mother and Minor Child (“Joint Br.”) at 2 (emphasis supplied). The problem is Cassandra apparently doesn’t want the chemotherapy that will almost certainly cure her. She apparently prefers virtually certain death. And Cassandra’s mother won’t consent on her behalf. Neither Cassandra’s nor her mother’s objections to the treatment are religiously-based. See Brief of Petitioner-Appellee (“DCF Br.”) at 18. They just don’t want the life-saving treatment.