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.


The Death Penalty In Connecticut–1640’s to 1660’s

The Connecticut General Assembly recently abolished the death penalty, albeit on a prospective basis only.  The Connecticut Supreme Court will soon hear arguments on the constitutionality of executing individuals convicted of capital crimes before the death penalty was repealed.  While researching this issue, I came across a wonderful site that has archived early Connecticut laws. Read the rest of this entry »


Handicapping The Outcome of State v. Peeler (Part Two)

In my preceding post I presented my thoughts on how the justices of the Supreme Court would cast their votes in State v. Peeler. In this post I discuss the various possible outcomes (“PO”). As I explain, there are a number of permutations beyond simply reaffirming or overruling State v. Santiago (Santiago II).

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Handicapping The Outcome Of State v. Peeler (Part One)

Yesterday, the Connecticut Supreme Court heard oral argument in State v. Peeler, a case that presents the Supreme Court with the opportunity to reaffirm or overrule its decision last August in State v. Santiago (Santiago II), which abolished the death penalty. (I use the term Santiago II to distinguish it from an earlier decision in the same case, which the Court and parties refer to as Santiago I.)

I’ve written about the Santiago and Peeler cases at some length, and this post presumes the reader’s familiarity with my earlier posts. The purpose of Part One of this two-part post is to handicap the outcome of yesterday’s argument. In Part Two, coming soon, I will outline the various possible permutations of the Court’s eventual decision, which I do not expect for many months.

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The Top Legal Stories Of 2015

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:

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An Introduction To The Power Of Judicial Review

Since the Connecticut Supreme Court decided State v. Santiago last August, which may have ended the death penalty in Connecticut, a debate has ensued about whether the decision constitutes a legitimate exercise of the power of “judicial review.” Judicial review refers to the power of federal and state courts and judges to strike down laws and executive actions if they conflict with, and thus violate, the United States Constitution or a state constitution.

The power of an appointed judge or panel of judges to tell an elected legislature that a law it debated and then passed, and that an elected governor or president signed, cannot be enforced because it is unconstitutional is truly extraordinary. It is also oft misunderstood. This post is an attempt to help readers understand the nature of the power and why its exercise is often controversial. Read the rest of this entry »


It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

No, I’m not referring to Yogi Berra’s recent passing.  No, I’m not referring to Lenny Kravitz’s 1991 song.  Yes, I am referring to the status of the death penalty in Connecticut.

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New Threat To Public Sector Labor Unions

Over the past week the public’s attention has been focused on several major decisions the U.S. Supreme Court released, involving issues such as same-sex marriage, the Affordable Care Act and drugs used for lethal injections in death penalty cases. In the midst of the release of these major decisions, the Supreme Court has also issued some routine orders concerning cases it has decided to hear next year.

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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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The Role Of Victims In Court

Andrew Sullivan has an interesting post today on his blog, The Dish, linking to two articles exploring the role of victims in criminal proceedings. 

One article, by Paul Cassell, discusses moving away from the traditional two-sided model, “State v. Defendant,” to a three-sided model in which victims enforce their own rights (for example, to restitution or compensation) alongside prosecutors acting on behalf of the state.  Cassell argues that “[t]his change is long overdue, as crime victims have their own independent concerns in the process that ought to be recognized.”

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