On January 8, 2015, the Supreme Court heard expedited oral arguments in In re: Cassandra C, the case involving a 17-year-old adolescent who claimed the right to refuse life-saving chemotherapy for her Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Only minutes after the oral argument concluded, the court issued a brief oral ruling from the bench in which the justices unanimously rejected Cassandra C.’s argument that the court should adopt the so-called “mature minor” doctrine. The court said that a formal written opinion would follow. Today, the court issued its written opinion.
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?
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.)
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.
The year 2015 anno Domini (or of the Common Era for new atheists out there) was chock full of big legal stories in Connecticut. I enjoyed covering them. According to my stats package, the following five stories are the ones readers found most interesting: