September 17, 2004
APPEALS TO THE STATE SUPREME COURT
By: Christopher Reinhart, Senior Attorney
You asked how a case could be appealed directly to the state Supreme Court.
The state Supreme Court could hear an appeal from a Superior Court ruling without the Appellate Court hearing the appeal under a number of provisions. These provisions allow the Supreme Court to take the case either directly from the Superior Court or on a transfer from the Appellate Court.
DIRECT APPEALS TO THE SUPREME COURT
The Supreme Court could hear the appeal directly from the Superior Court under the following provisions.
1. A party can appeal a Superior Court order or decision to the Supreme Court within two weeks of the order or decision if the action involves a matter of substantial public interest and delay may cause substantial injustice. The chief justice must rule within a week and if he certifies that the case meets the criteria, the trial judge immediately submits his decision and findings to the chief justice. The chief justice must call a special session for an immediate appeal and can issue orders to expedite the appeal (CGS § 52-265a). If the chief justice is unavailable or disqualified, the most senior associate justice who is available and not disqualified must rule on the application (Practice Book § 83-4).
2. Writs of error may be brought from a final judgment of the Superior Court to the Supreme Court, but not when (1) the error might have been reviewed by process of appeal or certification or (2) the parties, by failure to timely seek a transfer or otherwise, have consented to have the case determined by a court or tribunal from whose judgment there is no right of appeal or opportunity for certification (Practice Book, § 72-1 et seq.). The writ of error allows a higher court to review and supervise actions of its lower courts. It fills procedural gaps that occasionally arise when a person affected by a lower court ruling lacks a statutory right of appeal. It is rooted in the common law and appears to reflect the Supreme Court's inherent authority (Banks v. Thomas, 241 Conn. 569 (1997); Bergeron v. Mackler, 225 Conn. 391 (1993)). The statutes recognize the Supreme Court's authority regarding writs of error (CGS § 51-199(10) as amended by PA 03-176) but statutes specifying procedures for handling these writs were repealed by PA 03-176. Thus the court's Practice Book rules control these writs.
The Supreme Court might also have authority to hear an appeal under its general constitutional and statutory authority. PA 03-176 specifies that the Supreme Court can issue “all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of its jurisdiction and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.” The statute describing the court's jurisdiction states that cases must be taken directly to the Supreme Court in “any other matters as provided by law” (CGS § 51-199(11) as amended by PA 03-176).
TRANSFER FROM THE APPELLATE COURT
If a case is appealed to the Appellate Court, it could still be transferred to the Supreme Court before the Appellate Court rules on the case under the following provisions.
1. The Supreme Court can order a case transferred from the Appellate Court to the Supreme Court (CGS § 51-199(c)).
2. A party can make a motion to transfer a case from the Appellate Court to the Supreme Court. The motion must be made after the appeal is filed in the Appellate Court but before the case is assigned a hearing. The motion must state the reasons why the Supreme Court should hear the appeal directly (Practice Book § 65-2).
3. The Appellate Court, any time before making its final determination, can file a brief statement with the Supreme Court if it feels the case is appropriate for Supreme Court review. The Supreme Court must promptly decide whether to transfer the case (Practice Book § 65-2).