Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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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
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court concluding that a university police officer is not a member of a "local police department" entitled to indemnification under Conn. Gen. Stat. 53-39a, holding that the Appellate Court correctly interpreted the statute.Plaintiff, a member of a special police force for Eastern Connecticut State University, demanded reimbursement from the State for economic losses he allegedly incurred as a result of his federal criminal prosecution. In his complaint, Plaintiff argued that a university's special police force is a "local police department" for purposes of section 53-39a. The trial court rendered judgment in favor of Plaintiff. The Appellate Court reversed, holding that a university police officer is not a member of a local police department entitled to indemnification under section 53-39a. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Appellate Court's reasoning was sound and its conclusion was correct. View "Praisner v. State" on Justia Law

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In this dispute over who had the authority to lease shellfishing beds on behalf of the Town of Branford, the Supreme Court reversed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Town, holding that summary judgment was improper.Plaintiffs had been granted the right of first refusal by Branford's Shellfish Commission to lease certain shellfishing grounds located in the Town, but the Commission leased the grounds to Plaintiffs' competitor. Plaintiff brought this action alleging breach of contract and promissory estoppel and that it enjoyed a right of first refusal. The Town moved for summary judgment, arguing that the right of first refusal was no a valid or enforceable contract because the Commission lacked authority to enter into it. The trial court agreed, holding that only the Town's Board of Selectmen had authority to lease the shellfishing beds on behalf of the Town. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that there was a genuine issue of material fact precluding summary judgment. View "Shoreline Shellfish, LLC v. Branford" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming Defendant's conviction of assault in the third degree, in violation of Conn. Gen. Stat. 53a-61, holding that the Appellate Court did not err.Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the Appellate court (1) correctly concluded that Defendant had failed to preserve his claim that the trial court violated his constitutional rights by omitting a defense of personal property instruction with respect to the charge of assault; and (2) correctly concluded that Defendant waived that unpreserved claim of instructional error. View "State v. Ramon A. G." on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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In this public interest appeal the Supreme Court affirmed the orders of the trial court sanctioning Defendants after finding that Defendants had violated numerous discovery orders and engaged in harassing and intimidating behavior directed at Plaintiffs' counsel, holding that the trial court did not err.Plaintiffs, a first responder and family members of those killed in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, brought these actions against Alex Jones and his affiliate corporate entities claiming that statements made on Jones' radio show were tortious. At issue were orders of the trial court sanctioning Defendants by revoking their opportunity to pursue the special motions to dismiss provided by the anti-SLAPP statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-196a. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court did not abuse its discretion in sanctioning Defendants for discovery violations and for Jones' conduct; and (2) Defendants were afforded adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity to respond before the trial court imposed sanctions. View "Lafferty v. Jones" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming the trial court's denial of Mother's motion for reinstatement of guardianship rights to a parent under Conn. Gen. Stat. 45a-611, holding that the trial court improperly denied Mother's motion for reinstatement of guardianship with respect to her minor son.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) under section 45a-611, once a parent demonstrates that the factors that resulted in the removal of the parent as guardian have been satisfactorily resolved, the parent is entitled to a presumption that reinstatement of his or her guardianship rights is in the best interests of the child; and (2) the party opposing reinstatement must rebut the presumption by clear and convincing evidence; and (3) because it was unclear whether the trial court applied this presumption and because the court did not determine whether Mother had rebutted the presumption by clear and convincing evidence, the trial court erred in denying Mother's motion for reinstatement of guardianship. View "In re Zakai F." on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming Defendant's conviction of one count of assault of a disabled person in the third degree and one count of disorderly conduct, holding that any error in the proceedings below was harmless.Specifically, the Supreme Court held (1) the Appellate Court correctly concluded that Defendant knowingly, intelligently and voluntarily waived his right to counsel during the pretrial stage of the proceedings, and the trial court's canvass was sufficient; and (2) even assuming arguendo that had Defendant not waived the claim that he was denied the right to counsel at arraignment and during plea negotiations and that the trial court erred in failing to canvass him, any error was harmless. View "State v. Joseph A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of the Appellate Court affirming Defendant's conviction of two counts of assault in the first degree as a principal and two counts of assault in the first degree as an accessory, holding that the Appellate Court erred insofar as it affirmed Defendant's assault conviction as to Kenneth Tucker.Defendant's convictions were based on a joint physical assault involving two perpetrators, Defendant and his brother, and two victims, Kenneth Tucker and Luis Rodriguez. On appeal, Defendant argued that his conviction of four assault violated his right to be free from double jeopardy under the federal constitution because he committed only one assault per victim, for a total of two assaults. The Supreme Court reversed the Appellate Court's judgment insofar as it affirmed Defendant's conviction as to Tucker, holding (1) the imposition of multiple punishments on Defendant for Tucker's assault violated the Double Jeopardy Clause; and (2) Defendant's criminal acts involving Rodriguez constituted two distinct courses of conduct for double jeopardy purposes. View "State v. Ruiz-Pacheco" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the conclusion of the trial court that Plaintiff, E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., had not strictly complied with the notice provisions of an asset purchase agreement (APA) and the court's judgment in favor of Defendant, Chemtura Corporation, holding that the trial court improperly required strict compliance with the APA's notice provisions.On appeal, Plaintiff argued that the trial court incorrectly concluded that New York law requires strict compliance with a notice provision in a commercial contract. Specifically, Plaintiff asserted that New York law distinguishes between public contracts and private commercial contracts and does not require strict compliance in commercial contracts if the contracting party receives actual notice and suffers from prejudice. The Court of Appeals agreed, holding that the trial court erred in requiring strict compliance with the APA's notice provision and in failing to make any other factual findings regarding Plaintiff's breach of contract claims. View "E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Chemtura Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Contracts