Connecticut Supreme Court
|Connecticut Supreme Court|
|Method:||Comm. select., Gov. appt.|
- 1 Justices
- 2 Ethics
- 3 Cases
- 3.1 Jurisdiction
- 3.2 Caseloads
- 3.3 How cases are decided by the court
- 3.4 Practice guidelines
- 3.5 Visiting the court
- 3.6 Notable cases
- 3.7 Connecticut lawyers can't be sued for fraudulent activity in court
- 3.8 Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health
- 3.9 Susette Kelo v. City of New London
- 3.10 Griswold v. Connecticut
- 3.11 Political outlook
- 4 History
- 5 See also
- 6 External links
- 7 References
The Connecticut Supreme Court is the state's court of last resort. Although the court was established in 1784, the Connecticut Constitution which defined the separation of powers in the state's government, was not completed until 1818. Any significant changes in the court must be made by constitutional amendment. The court is made up of one chief justice and six associate justices. During a two-year period, the court meets eight times in sessions which last approximately two weeks.
Justices serve for eight-year terms. They must be renominated in order to serve additional terms. The chief justice may be selected by the commission, nominated and approved by the General Assembly. However, the Governor may also select an associate justice to serve as chief justice. If an associate justice is elevated to the position of chief justice they will serve the remaining term for their previous position as chief justice. According to Section 51-1b of the Connecticut General Statutes, the chief justice of the supreme court is the head administrator of the state's judicial branch.The current justices of the court are:
|Chief Justice Chase Rogers||2007-2015||Gov. Mary Jodi Rell|
|Justice Richard Palmer||1993-2017||Gov. Lowell P. Weicker, Jr.|
|Justice Peter Zarella||2001-2017||Gov. John G. Rowland|
|Associate justice Richard A. Robinson||2013-2022||Gov. Dan Malloy|
|Justice Carmen E. Espinosa||2013-2021||Gov. Dan Malloy|
|Justice Dennis G. Eveleigh||2010-2018||Gov. Mary Jody Rell|
|Justice Andrew McDonald||2013-2021||Gov. Dan Malloy|
Minimum qualifications for appointment to the court are:
- Under age 70 at time of appointment
- Licensed to practice law in the state
- State resident
- See also: Judicial selection in Connecticut
Judges are chosen using the commission selection, political appointment method. The Judicial Selection Commission forwards a list of candidates to the Governor. The Governor of Connecticut nominates a candidate, who must be confirmed by the Connecticut General Assembly.
Justices on the supreme court must retire when they reach the mandatory retirement age of 70. However, after reaching 70, a justice may continue to serve as a judge trial referee (also known as a state referee) for the rest of their life. However, they must be renominated, reappointed and continue to meet certain conditions.
A justice must be renominated by the Governor to continue serving on the court after their term expires. In order to be approved by the General Assembly, a nominee must appear before the senate judiciary committee at a hearing. The judiciary committee will make a recommendation and then a vote is taken on whether to approve the nominee to serve another term.
Removal of justices
Justices may be removed in one of three ways:
- Judges may impeached by the Connecticut House of Representatives with the approval of two-thirds of the Connecticut State Senate.
- The Governor may remove a judge or justice with two-thirds approval from each house of the Connecticut General Assembly.
- Following a misconduct investigation by the Connecticut Judicial Review Council. If the investigation indicates there is probable cause the judge may be guilty of misconduct, the council conducts a hearing and makes a recommendation to the supreme court, who may then choose to suspend or remove the judge from office.
In December 2013, the Center for Public Integrity released a study on disclosure requirements for state supreme court judges. Analysts from the Center reviewed the rules governing financial disclosure in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as personal financial disclosures for the past three years. The study found that 42 states and Washington D.C. received failing grades. Connecticut earned a grade of F in the study. No state received a grade higher than "C". Furthermore, due in part to these lax disclosure standards, the study found 35 instances of questionable gifts, investments overlapping with caseloads and similar potential ethical quandaries. The study also noted 14 cases in which justices participated although they or their spouses held stock in the company involved in the litigation.
The Connecticut Supreme Court generally has appellate jurisdiction over cases decided in lower courts within the state, including the Connecticut Appellate Court.
The court has mandatory jurisdiction over the following types of cases:
- civil appeals
- capital criminal appeals
- criminal appeals
- judicial discipline matters
The court has discretionary jurisdiction over:
- civil appeals
- non-capital criminal appeals
- administrative agency cases
How cases are decided by the court
Parties may not present witnesses or evidence. The court decides cases using court records from the lower courts, briefs prepared by each party and oral argument before the court. During the oral argument, attorneys for the parties may present information from their briefs. The justices may also question attorneys for the parties during oral argument.
Except for matters heard by the probate court, all cases heard by the supreme court begin in superior court. The court reviews cases from the superior court to assure no errors have been made in interpreting or applying the law. Some decisions made by the appellate court may also be reviewed.
Although an appeal of most superior court cases must first be filed in the appellate court, according to state law, some types of cases are appealed directly to the supreme court. These include:
- cases involving a potentially invalid portion of the state constitution or an invalid state statute
- cases where a person has been convicted of a capital felony
However, the supreme court has the authority to take up any case which is filed in the appellate court.
The Connecticut Practice Book is available on the judicial branch website. First created in 1978, the book has undergone many revisions since that time. It includes information on: rules of professional conduct, the code of judicial conduct, rules for the superior court and rules of appellate court procedure. The book also contains an appendix of forms and an index of judicial branch forms. The most recent official version of the Connecticut Code of Evidence is also available on the judicial branch website. Both may be printed for free, and printed versions are available for a fee.
- Connecticut Practice Book
- Connecticut Code of Evidence
- Manual of Style for the Connecticut Courts
- Guidelines for electronic submission of briefs
- Connecticut Judicial Branch Electronic Filing Services
Visiting the court
Visitors can take a tour of the courthouse and observe oral arguments. The Connecticut Judicial Branch provides a schedule of when cases will be heard by the court. The Supreme Court is located at 231 Capitol Avenue in Hartford.
Connecticut lawyers can't be sued for fraudulent activity in court
|May 23, 2013|
|See also: Courtroom Weekly: From gun laws to school searches
The Connecticut Supreme Court cited the doctrine of "absolute immunity" in ruling that lawyers cannot be sued for fraud based on their conduct in court cases.
Bob Simms, a former NFL player and founder of Simms Capital Management Inc., has been in an ongoing legal battle over divorce proceedings with his ex-wife, Donna Simms, for 30 years. Bob recently tried to sue Donna and her lawyers for withholding information about approximately $360,000 in inheritance money that she received in 2006 and 2008. A court order brought the facts of the inheritance to the surface in 2008, but a lower court judge ruled that the information had been improperly withheld.
At the Supreme Court, however, the justices were focused on a different point: whether or not Donna's lawyers were liable for the alleged fraud. They ruled 5-1 on May 10 that the lawyers could not be sued for fraud, citing the old doctrine of absolute immunity, as well as decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal courts.Absolute immunity started in medieval England. It was created as a way to encourage free speaking during court proceedings without fear of future lawsuits. Justice Peter Zarella, in the majority's opinion, wrote,
This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health
Susette Kelo v. City of New London
Griswold v. Connecticut
In October 2012, political science professors Adam Bonica and Michael Woodruff of Stanford University attempted to determine the partisan outlook of State Supreme Court justices in their paper, State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns. A score above 0 indicated a more conservative leaning ideology while scores below 0 were more liberal. The state Supreme Court of Connecticut was given a Campaign finance score (CFscore) which was calculated for judges in October 2012. At that time, Connecticut received a score of 0.05. Based on the justices selected, Connecticut was the 21st most conservative court. The study is based on data from campaign contributions by judges themselves, the partisan leaning of contributors to the judges or, in the absence of elections, the ideology of the appointing body (governor or legislature). This study is not a definitive label of a justice but rather, an academic gauge of various factors.
- 1784: Supreme Court of Errors is established as Connecticut's highest appellate court, with the power to review lower court decisions by the filing of a writ of error. (During the time period between 1711 and 1784, the General Assembly was responsible for reviewing decisions made in lower courts.)
- 1818: Connecticut's Constitution is adopted and specifies three different government branches. The Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors and the Connecticut Superior Court are established. The General Assembly is given the power to establish other lower courts.
- 1965: In 1965, the court's name was changed from the Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors to the Connecticut Supreme Court.
- 1982: An amendment to the state Constitution creates the appellate court to reduce the caseload of the state's supreme court.
- Joel Hinman is the longest serving justice. He served on the court for 28 years.
- Raymond E. Baldwin served as both the Governor of the state (and a supreme court justice).
- Ellen Ash Peters was the first female justice appointed to the court in 1978. She was also the first woman to serve as chief justice, in 1984.
- Robert Glass was the first African-American appointed to serve on the court in 1987. He retired from the court in 1992. The juvenile courthouse in Waterbury, Connecticut is named for him.
- Alfred V. Covello served as a supreme court justice between 1987 and 1992. He currently serves as a federal judge for the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut, on senior status.
|All former justices of the Connecticut Supreme Court: click for list →|
|Stephen Mix Mitchell||1808-1814|
|Jeremiah Gates Brainard||1808-1829|
|John Cotton Smith||1809-1811|
|Stephen Titus Hosmer||1815-1833|
|John Thompson Peters||1818-1834|
|Thomas Scott Williams||1829-1847|
|Jabez Williams Huntington||1834-1840|
|Henry Matson Waite||1834-1857|
|Roger Minott Sherman||1839-1842|
|William Lucius Storrs||1840-1861|
|William Wolcott Ellsworth||1847-1861|
|David Curtis Sanford||1854-1864|
|John Duane Park||1864-1889|
|Thomas Belden Butler||1861-1873|
|Charles Johnson McCurdy||1863-1867|
|Dwight Whitefield Pardee||1873-1890|
|Miles Tobey Granger||1876-1887|
|LaFayette Sabine Foster||1870-1876|
|Origen Storrs Seymour||1870-1874|
|Sidney Burr Beardsley||1887-1889|
|Charles Bartlett Andrews||1889-1901|
|Augustus H. Fenn||1893-1897|
|Edward W. Seymour||1889-1892|
|Frederick B. Hall||1897-1913|
|Samuel O. Prentice||1901-1920|
|John M. Thayer||1907-1917|
|Silas A. Robinson||1910-1910|
|Simeon E. Baldwin||1893-1910|
|Milton A. Shumway||1917-1918|
|Alberto T. Roraback||1908-1919|
|George W. Wheeler||1910-1930|
|John K. Beach||1913-1925|
|Edward B. Gager||1918-1922|
|William S. Case||1919-1921|
|Howard J. Curtis||1920-1927|
|Lucien F. Burpee||1921-1924|
|John E. Keeler||1922-1926|
|William M. Maltbie||1925-1950|
|Frank D. Haines||1925-1936|
|John P. Kellogg||1924-1925|
|George E. Hinman||1926-1940|
|John W. Banks||1927-1937|
|Christopher L. Avery||1930-1942|
|Allyn L. Brown||1936-1953|
|Arthur F. Ells||1940-1949|
|Edwin C. Dickenson||1942-1950|
|Raymond E. Baldwin||1949-1963|
|Ernest A. Inglis||1950-1957|
|Patrick B. O’Sullivan||1950-1957|
|John A. Cornell||1953-1953|
|Edward J. Quinlan||1953-1954|
|Edward J. Daly||1954-1959|
|John Hamilton King||1957-1970|
|James E. Murphy||1957-1966|
|William J. Shea||1959-1965|
|Abraham S. Bordon||1961-1961|
|Howard W. Alcorn||1961-1971|
|John M. Comley||1963-1965|
|James C. Shannon||1965-1966|
|Charles S. House||1965-1978|
|John P. Cotter||1965-1981|
|John R. Thim||1966-1972|
|Elmer W. Ryan||1966-1972|
|Herbert S. MacDonald||1972-1977|
|Joseph S. Longo||1975-1979|
|William P. Barber||1975-1977|
|John A. Speziale||1977-1984|
|Ellen A. Peters||1978-2000|
|Arthur H. Healey||1979-1990|
|Anthony J. Armentano||1981-1983|
|David M. Shea||1981-1992|
|Anthony E. Grillo||1983-1985|
|Joseph F. Dannehy||1984-1987|
|Angelo G. Santaniello||1985-1994|
|Robert J. Callahan||1985-2000|
|Robert D. Glass||1987-1992|
|Alfred V. Covello||1987-1992|
|T. Clark Hull||1987-1991|
|David M. Borden||1990-2007|
|Robert I. Berdon||1991-1999|
|Flemming L. Norcott, Jr.||1992-2013|
|Francis M. McDonald, Jr.||1996-2001|
|Barry L. Schaller||2007-2008|
- Courts in Connecticut
- Judicial selection in Connecticut
- Connecticut judicial news
- Connecticut blogs
- News: Connecticut Supreme Court lets UConn keep its donor information private, February 15, 2012
- News: Connecticut Supreme Court takes over redistricting, December 23, 2011
- Connecticut Supreme Court webpage
- Terms of the Connecticut Supreme Court
- Supreme Court opinions
- Colonial Connecticut Records 1636-1776
- Biographical information about Connecticut judges
- Virtual tour of the Connecticut Supreme Court building
- Judicial Interview Project
- Connecticut Supreme Court Historical Society
- Seized property sits vacant nine years after landmark Kelo eminent domain case, March 20, 2014
- The Courant, "Court: Horse owners need to protect public from injury," March 29, 2014
- Connecticut Supreme Court Website
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial Selection: Connecticut," accessed March 25, 2014
- Connecticut General Assembly, "CHAPTER 872* JUDGES," accessed June 5, 2013
- American Judicature Society, "Methods of Judicial selection: Removal of Judges," accessed March 25, 2014
- Center for Public Integrity "State supreme court judges reveal scant financial information," December 5, 2013
- Connecticut Court System, "Biennial Report 2008-2010, Supreme Court Caseload Trends" (scroll to page 40)
- Connecticut Court System, "Biennial Report 2006-2008, Supreme Court Caseload Trends" (scroll to page 36)
- State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, "Organization of Connecticut Courts, Supreme Court," accessed March 25, 2014
- State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, "Connecticut Practice Book," accessed March 25, 2014
- State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, "Publications, Booklet about Connecticut's Courts," accessed March 25, 2014
- The Wall Street Journal, "Conn. court: Lawyers can't be sued for fraud," May 17, 2013
- Supreme Court of Connecticut, "Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health," decided October 28, 2008, accessed March 20, 2014
- Oyez, "Kelo v. City of New London," accessed March 25, 2014
- Legal Information Institute, "Griswold v. Connecticut," accessed March 20, 2014
- Stanford University "State Supreme Court Ideology and 'New Style' Judicial Campaigns," October 31, 2012
- Wikipedia, "Connecticut Supreme Court," accessed March 31, 2014
- State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, "History of the Courts," accessed March 18, 2014
- Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, Breaking New Ground Report, "Women Making History 1777-2013," accessed March 20, 2014
- State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, "Waterbury juvenile matters courthouse to be named after the Honorable Robert D. Glass," May 16, 2008 accessed March 20, 2014
- Connecticut Supreme Court Historical Society, "Justices of the Connecticut Supreme Court," accessed March 20, 2014
|Former||Flemming Norcott • Joette Katz • Barry Schaller • William Sullivan • Christine Vertefeuille • David Bordon • Ian McLachlan • Lubbie Harper •|