It’s The First Monday In October. . . .

And that means the United States Supreme Court is back in session! Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing depends on your perspective; the court will decide some highly charged cases this year and those decisions are sure to delight–or enrage–depending on where you stand on the issues. Click below for a look at the upcoming term from several different perspectives:

Adam Liptak (New York Times)

Elizabeth Slattery (The Heritage Foundation)

Richard Wolf (USA Today)

Gabriel Malor (Hot Air)

Coming Your Way Soon: The Little Book Of Big Appellate Tips!

I’m very pleased to announce that I’m on the cusp of releasing my first book, Appealingly Brief: The Little Book of Big Appellate Tips (Or How to Write Persuasive Briefs and Excel at Oral Argument.).  Click here for more information about the book, including a free excerpt in pdf format.  The full book will be published later this fall in both print and e-book formats.

The book contains 36 specific tips, many with multiple sub-tips, pointers and suggestions, on brief writing and oral argument.  While I would like to take sole credit for these tips, the truth is that they represent the collective wisdom of brilliant jurists and appellate lawyers like former Connecticut Supreme Court Chief Justice Ellen Ash Peters, former Wiggin & Dana appellate guru (and later federal district judge) Mark Kravitz, and so many other very wise folks, including but not limited to former Supreme Court Justices David Borden, Joette Katz, Barry Schaller and Ian McLachlan.

Stayed tuned for further information on the official publication date.

What Will Justice Robinson Do In Peeler? (Or Is The Death Penalty Really Dead In Connecticut?)

When the Connecticut Supreme Court issued its recent 4-3 decision in State v. Santiago striking down the death penalty in Connecticut, most people thought that was the end of the story–whether they agreed with the decision or not.

I’m not so sure.

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When Felons Run For Public Office, Ctd.

Well, by a narrow margin voters in the Bridgeport Democratic primary have chosen their former mayor, convicted felon Joseph P. Ganim, to represent them as their candidate in the mayoral election in November.  Unbelievable.

I wrote a post last March discussing the Connecticut law that allows felons to run for public office, but only if they have made “payment of all fines in conjunction with the conviction and once such person has been discharged from confinement, and, if applicable, parole.”  I asked in that post whether Mr. Ganim had, in fact, paid all fines.

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A Death Penalty Hypothetical, Ctd.

Last week The CT Mirror ran my prior post, “A Death Penalty Hypothetical For The Connecticut Supreme Court, as an op-ed. It generated a comment from a person identified as “David Rosen.”  I assume this to be the always thoughtful attorney David Rosen from New Haven.  He makes a good point, to which I would like to respond.  Let me first restate the hypothetical I posed:

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ACLU Files Motion To Hold Kentucky Clerk In Contempt

Kim Davis is the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk (an elected position) who refuses to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because she says doing so offends her religious beliefs.  On August 12, 2015, a federal court granted certain plaintiffs’ request for a preliminary injunction ordering Davis to comply with the law of the land and issue licenses to such couples.  She continues to argue that she has the right to flout the law because of her religious beliefs.

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The Lawyer Is A Champ Is Here!


Eleven years in the making, The Lawyer Is A Tramp Champ is Dan’s second album, following not-so-close on the heels of his 2004 CD, The Billable Hour Blues. Dan’s new album contains 13 new musical parodies (and one rocking instrumental) that help us lawyers remember not to take ourselves too seriously.  Most importantly, 100% of the proceeds from sales through December 31, 2015 will be donated to Connecticut legal aid organizations. Songs include:

  • Rule 56
  • Jailhouse Lawyer Blues
  • You Make Me Feel (Like An Appellate Lawyer)
  • Blackberry
  • Graduation’s Near (Law School Debt I Fear)
  • Uncollectible
  • The Lady Is A Tramp Champ
  • I’ve Got The Judge On A String (Wrapped Around My Finger)
  • They All Laughed
  • Sue Me
  • The Commerce Clause! (Part One)
  • The FOI! (The Freedom Of Information Song)
  • Get A Life Wes Horton
  • TGIF! (Instrumental)

Click here to listen to audio clips of each song and to buy the album (only $13.99) or individual songs (for only $1.29 each).

Linda Greenhouse And Connecticut’s Death Penalty Decision

This will may be my last post concerning the Connecticut Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision last week in State v. Santiago abolishing the death penalty entirely.  As a death penalty opponent, I should be pleased with the result.  As a lawyer who cares deeply about the rule of law, I have very serious doubts about the reasoning behind the majority’s decision.

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A Death Penalty Hypothetical For The Connecticut Supreme Court

Appellate judges are famous for asking hypothetical questions.  They are a very important part of the oral argument process, as they help the judges understand how their decisions in particular cases may apply to future cases.

Advocates rarely get to ask judges hypothetical questions, but I’m going to ask one anyway. It is directed to the esteemed justices of the Connecticut Supreme Court who last week, in a 4-3 decision, abolished the death penalty. (I don’t expect an answer of course. This is just a thought experiment.) The Supreme Court held that a statute the General Assembly passed in 2012, which repealed the death penalty prospectively only–an essential element of the legislative compromise required to get the votes to support any repeal–had the unintended effect of rendering the death penalty cruel and unusual punishment, and thus violative of the Connecticut Constitution, for the 11 men already on death row.  That is, according to the Supreme Court, the repeal statute accomplished precisely what it was not intended to do–abolish the death penalty entirely.

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Discussing The Death Penalty On WNPR

Many thanks to John Dankosky and Colin McEnroe for having me on The Wheelhouse, WNPR’s weekly news roundtable, to discuss the Connecticut Supreme Court’s recent decision abolishing the death penalty.  Along with David McGuire, Legislative and Policy Director for the ACLU of Connecticut, we had a rousing discussion about the decision.  And special thanks to John for plugging my soon-to-be-released CD, The Lawyer Is A Tramp Champ!

Click here to watch video of our discussion (courtesy of CT-N), or here for the audio track.


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