Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming Defendant's conviction, rendered after a jury trial, of tampering with a witness, holding that the the Appellate Court correctly determined that the jury reasonably concluded that Defendant was guilty of violating Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-151(a).On appeal, Defendant argued that there was insufficient evidence to permit a jury reasonably to infer that, when she sent text messages to her boyfriend, Jason Majewski, Defendant had the specific intent to interfere with a witness' testimony at an official proceeding. The Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Court correctly determined that the jury reasonably could have found that Defendant tampered with a witness. View "State v. Lamantia" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court concluding that Defendant's conviction of breach of the peace in the second degree must be reversed because the First Amendment barred his prosecution for the statements at issue, holding that Defendant's remarks were unprotected fighting words, and therefore, his conviction did not violate the First Amendment.At issue were Defendant's "vulgar and racially charged" remarks that included utterances of the words "fucking niggers" directed at an African-American parking enforcement official following Defendant's receipt of a parking ticket. As a result of this conduct, Defendant was convicted of breach of the peace in the second degree. The Appellate Court reversed, concluding that Defendant's speech was constitutionally protected. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Appellate Court erred in concluding that Defendant's language did not constitute fighting words. View "State v. Liebenguth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court granting the state's motion to dismiss this tort action, holding that a state's waiver of sovereign immunity in Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-556 for claims arising from a state employee's negligent operation of a state-owned and -insured motor vehicle extends to litigants who are state employees.Plaintiff, a state employee, was a passenger in a motor vehicle owned and insured by the state and operated by another state employee, William Texidor, when another vehicle operated by Tyreke Brooks struck their vehicle. Brooks' vehicle was uninsured. Plaintiff, who applied for and received workers' compensation benefits, brought this action agains the state and Metropolitan Casualty Insurance Company alleging that Texidor's operation of the vehicle was negligent. The state filed a motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on the ground of sovereign immunity. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court had jurisdiction pursuant to the waiver of sovereign immunity in section 52-556; (2) Plaintiff's action against the state was barred by Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-284(a); and (3) therefore, the form of judgment was improper, and the case is remanded with direction to render judgment for the state. View "Feliciano v. State" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Compensation Review Board affirming the decision of the Workers' Compensation Commission awarding Plaintiff permanent partial disability benefits of twenty-three percent based on the function of his transplanted heart, holding that the Board correctly treated the transplanted heart as an organ rather than a prosthetic device.At issue was whether Plaintiff, who underwent a heart transplant, was entitled to a specific indemnity award for permanent partial disability under the Workers' Compensation Act for the total loss of Plaintiff's native heart or whether the award should be based, instead, on the rated function of Plaintiff's transplanted heart. Plaintiff was awarded benefits based on the function of his transplanted heart. Plaintiff appealed, arguing that his transplanted heart was akin to a prosthetic device, and therefore, Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-308(b) required compensation for the 100 percent loss of his native heart. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the transplant meant that Plaintiff had not suffered a complete loss of his heart within the meaning of section 31-308(b). View "Vitti v. Milford" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court insofar as it upheld the trial court's order directing Defendants to reimburse Plaintiff for property taxes and insurance premiums, holding that the ordered relief was inconsistent with the remedial scheme available to a mortgagee in a strict foreclosure.At issue was whether a trial court may order a mortgagor to reimburse a mortgagee for the mortgagee's advancements of property taxes and insurance premiums during the pendency of an appeal from a judgment of strict foreclosure. The trial court ordered Defendants to reimburse Plaintiff for such property tax and insurance premium payments, and the Appellate Court affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court abused its discretion in directing Defendants to make monetary payments to Plaintiff outside of a deficiency judgment; and (2) the Appellate Court's judgment is affirmed in all other respects. View "JPMorgan Chase Bank, National Ass'n v. Essaghof" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the judgment of the Compensation Review Board finding that the City of Bridgeport was liable for the payment of Plaintiff's workers compensation benefits as his principal employer, holding that the City was in the "trade or business" of maintaining and repairing municipal buildings and facilities.The City hired Contractor do repair work on the roof of the City's transfer facility, and Contractor hired Subcontractor. Plaintiff, an employee of Subcontractor, was injured in the course and scope of his employment and sought workers' compensation benefits from the City, Contractor, and Subcontractor. The Workers' Compensation Commissioner concluded that, because Howie's Roofing was uninsured, the Second Injury Fund was required to pay Plaintiff benefits under Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-355. The Fund contested liability, arguing that the City was required to pay the benefits owed to Plaintiff as his principal employer. The Commissioner determined that the City was Plaintiff's principal employer and ordered the City to pay workers' compensation benefits. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that roof repair was a part or process in the City's trade or business under Conn. Gen. Stat. 31-291. View "Barker v. All Roofs by Dominic" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court held that a trial court has authority to issue a posttermination visitation order that is requested within the context of a termination proceeding.During the termination hearing in this case, counsel for Child asked the trial court to consider an order of posttermination or postadoption visitation between Child and Mother. The trial court terminated Mother's parental rights and then denied the request for posttermination visitation, concluding that it lacked authority to issue an order for post termination visitation. The Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case for further proceedings, holding that a trial court has authority to issue an order for posttermiation visitation so long as the court finds it necessary or appropriate to the child's welfare. View "In re Ava W." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of several crimes in connection with a murder in the city of Hartford in 2002, and remanded this case for a new trial, holding that Defendant's constitutional right to counsel was violated and that, therefore, he was entitled to a new trial on all counts.On appeal, Defendant argued that the State violated its obligation under Messiah v. United States, 377 U.S. 201 (Conn. 1964), to respect and preserve the invocation of his right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment by using a jailhouse informant deliberately to elicit incriminating statements from Defendant. The Supreme Court agreed and reversed Defendant's convictions, holding that the trial court's denial of Defendant's motion to suppress the informant's testimony was improper and that Defendant was entitled to a new trial. View "State v. Ashby" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss this action claiming seeking declaratory and injunctive relief challenging the Secretary of State's (Defendant) "ruling of an election official," which added a seventh category for absentee voting, "COVID-19," to the application for absentee ballots for the August 11, 2020 primary election in contemplation of the ongoing pandemic, holding that this Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction.Plaintiffs, four candidates in the August primary for the Republican Party's nomination for the office of United States representative for Connecticut's First and Second Congressional Districts, brought this proceeding pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-323, claiming that Defendant's change to the application violated Conn. Const. art. VI, 7 and that the application was inconsistent with the terms of Executive Order No. 7QQ. Defendant moved to dismiss the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Supreme Court granted the motion to dismiss, holding that jurisdiction lay in the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford. View "Fay v. Merrill" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss this action seeking an order rescinding an application for absentee ballot for the August 2020 primary elections prepared by the Secretary of State and for other relief, holding that this Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction.The four plaintiffs in this case were candidates in the August 2020 primary election for the Republican Party's nomination for the office of United States Representative for Connecticut's First and Second Congressional Districts. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief challenging the Secretary of State's (Defendant) ruling adding a seventh category for absentee voting. The Supreme Court granted Defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction under Conn. Gen. Stat. 2-323, holding that jurisdiction lay in the superior court in the judicial district of Hartford. View "Fay v. Merrill" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law