Justia Connecticut Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Election Law
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court rendered in favor of Defendants, various city election officials and the secretary of state, in this election contest, holding that Plaintiff's arguments on appeal were unavailing.Plaintiff claimed that she ran in the November 2020 election to fill a vacancy on the Board of Education of the City of Stamford, that she won the election, and that the City's election officials improperly refused to credit the election results on the ground that the Stamford Charter provides that the charter provides that the election to fill the vacancy could not be held until the "next biennial election" in 2021. The trial court entered judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) this Court refuses to construe the phrase "next biennial election" to mean "next city election"; and (2) a charter provision limiting vacancy elections to odd-numbered years did not violate the First Amendment and that the City's failure to validate the votes at issue did not disenfranchise Plaintiff. View "O'Shea v. Scherban" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law
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The Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the trial court dismissing Plaintiffs' administrative appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction from the adverse decision of the State Elections Enforcement Commission determining that Plaintiffs violated certain state election laws and regulations, holding that the administrative appeal was timely filed.In its decision, the Commission found that Plaintiffs, who had received funding for their campaigns through the Citizens' Election Program, had violated laws and regulations related to the Program and imposed civil fines for those violations. Plaintiffs appealed. The superior court dismissed the appeal on the ground that it was untimely filed under Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-183(c)(2). The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the timeliness of Plaintiffs' appeal was governed by the limitation period of Conn. Gen. Stat. 4-183(c)(3); and (2) Plaintiffs' appeal was timely filed under section 4-183(c)(3). View "Markley v. State Elections Enforcement Commission" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court in favor of Defendant, Denise Merrill, Secretary of the State, intros action seeking declaratory and injunctive relief with respect to Defendant's change of the absentee ballot application for the August 11, 2020 primary election to add COVID-19 as a new reason for requesting an absentee ballot pursuant to Executive Order No. 7QQ, holding that the trial court did not err.At issue in this public interest appeal was whether Governor Ned Lamont's executive order, which was later ratified by the legislature and which modified Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-135 by adding COVID-19 as a permissible reason for absentee voting violates Conn. Const. art. VI, 7. The trial court granted jumtgnet for Defendant. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Executive Order No. 7QQ does not violate Article 6, Section 7. View "Fay v. Merrill" 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
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court declining to order a new 2019 Democratic primary election for municipal office in the city of Bridgeport pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-329a(b), holding that the trial court did not err in determining that Plaintiffs lacked standing to invoke section 9-329a(a)(1) and that Plaintiffs failed to establish that they were entitled to an order directing a new primary election under section 9-329a(a)(2).Plaintiffs, registered Democrats residing in the city, brought this action alleging that improprieties leading up to the primary election rendered the result so unreliable that it must be set aside. The trial court granted Defendants' motion to dismiss the action for lack of aggrievement with respect to Plaintiff's claim brought pursuant to section 9-329a(a)(1) but denied the motion with respect to the claims brought pursuant to section 9-329a(1)(2). After a trial, the court rendered judgment for Defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) Plaintiffs lacked standing to bring a claim under section 9-329a(a)(1) because they were not aggrieved; and (2) Plaintiffs failed to establish that they were entitled to an order directing a new special primary election. View "Lazar v. Ganim" on Justia Law

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In these public interest appeals arising from a mix-up at a high school polling place in the town of Stratford where approximately seventy-six voters received the incorrect ballots, rendering those voters unable to cast a vote for their assembly district's state representative, the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court insofar as it dismissed Plaintiff's complaint and reversed the trial court's judgment with respect to its issuance of a temporary injunction, holding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims and similarly lacked jurisdiction to issue a temporary injunction.Plaintiff, a Republic Party's candidate for state representative, brought this action seeking declaratory relief, a new election, and injunction prohibiting certain state defendants from declaring the intervening defendant, the Democratic Party's candidate, as the winner of that election. The trial court dismissed the complaint in part as barred by the elections clause set forth in Conn. Const. art. III, 7 but granted Plaintiff's application for a temporary injunction. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the elections clause gives the state House of Representatives exclusive jurisdiction over this election contest; and (2) the trial court lacked jurisdiction to enjoin the state defendants from canvassing the votes and declaring a winner, even temporarily. View "Feehan v. Marcone" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court dismissed this writ of error brought by the plaintiffs in error seeking to protect their rights with respect to the judgment of the trial court that was challenged on appeal in Independent Party of CT-State Central v. Merrill, __ A.3d __ (Conn. 2019), holding that the writ of error was moot.In its judgment, the trial court resolved a dispute between the Danbury and Waterbury factions of the state’s Independent Party by granting declaratory and injunctive relief directing Secretary of State Denise W. Merrill to accept only those endorsements made pursuant to the party’s 2010 bylaws. The plaintiffs in error were thirteen candidates for the state House of Representatives endorsed by the Danbury faction prior to the trial court’s decision. The endorsed candidates argued that the writ of error was moot because of the Secretary’s unchallenged decision to accept the Danbury faction’s endorsements with respect to twelve of them. The Supreme Court dismissed this action, holding (1) the writ of error was moot; and (2) the defendant in error’s separate request for relief was not properly before the Court. View "Independent Party of CT-State Central v. Merrill" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court for Defendants Michael Telesca and Rocco Frank, Jr. in this battle between the Danbury faction and the Waterbury faction over the control of the state’s Independent Party, holding that the trial court’s decision was timely and that the trial court properly construed Conn. Gen. Laws 9-374.In its decision, the trial court ordered Secretary of State Denise W. Merrill to accept candidate endorsements made pursuant to the 2010 bylaws of the Independent Party of CT-State Central - which, together with its officers, led the Danbury faction and filed the complaint - which, in effect, gave the Waterbury faction control over the Independent Party’s statewide nominations. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial court’s order of supplemental briefing and oral argument concerning its subject matter jurisdiction preserved its personal jurisdiction over the parties by stopping and later restarting the decision period, thus rendering the court’s decision timely; and (2) the trial court properly determined that section 9-374 rendered the 2010 bylaws controlling, as opposed to bylaws that the Danbury faction had previously filed with the Secretary. View "Independent Party of CT-State Central v. Merrill" on Justia Law

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At issue in this election case was the validity of petitions submitted to qualify a slate of candidates to run for election to the Democratic Town Committee for the sixth district of the city of Hartford. Specifically at issue was whether election officials are required to reject these petitions if the petitions’ circulator knows or should know that the petitions contain an incorrect address for one of the candidates listed.In this action for a writ of mandamus compelling invalidation of certain petitions created for candidates for the Hartford Democratic Town Committee, the Supreme Court concluded that the dispositive issue was whether the acceptance of such petitions constitutes a “ruling of an election official,” an essential predicate to a party’s standing to proceed under Conn. Gen. Stat. 9-329a. The Court held that such an acceptance does not constitute such a ruling.Here, the superior court granted the motion filed by Alyssa Peterson et al. to intervene as defendants. Peterson filed a counterclaim, and judgment was entered for Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the acceptance of petitions bearing a purportedly incorrect address for one candidate would not constitute a ruling of an election official, and therefore, Peterson lacked standing under section 9-329a. View "Arciniega v. Feliciano" on Justia Law

Posted in: Election Law