July 19, 2007
COURT OPENNESS, RULES, AND OPERATIONS
By: Sandra Norman-Eady, Chief Attorney
You asked for a summary of LCO 9081, an uncalled amendment filed on SB 1479, An Act Concerning Rules of Court.
This bill requires judges to adopt and promulgate rules of evidence and permits them to modify or repeal the rules for the same purposes and with the same provisos as they currently do rules regulating pleadings, practice, and procedure. It establishes a new procedure for them to follow when adopting rules regulating pleadings, practice, and procedure, including referring the proposed rules to the Judiciary Committee for review. It eliminates an existing law that makes statutes court rules if they (1) relate to pleadings, practice, and procedures, (2) were in existence on July 1, 1957, and (3) have not been modified, superseded, or suspended by any court rules adopted by judges.
The bill requires the Judicial Selection Commission to (1) evaluate incumbent state referees seeking reappointment in the same general way as they evaluate judges seeking reappointment, (2) establish an Internet website, and (3) comply with the Freedom of Information Act's (FOIA) provisions on meeting notices and agenda availability.
The bill makes a number of changes to the procedures of the Judicial Review Council (JRC). These include (1) making most of the JRC's investigatory records open to the public, (2) requiring all JRC proceedings to be open, and (3) eliminating the requirement that the JRC submit recommendations about judges who are reappointed or nominated to a different court and compensation commissioners and family support magistrates who are reappointed.
The bill requires the General Assembly, rather than the chief justice, to appoint the probate court administrator. It specifies that service as a chief court administrator or probate court administrator does not affect a judge's term as a judge.
It defines “administrative functions” as that phrase is used in FOIA to identify Judicial Branch records and meetings subject to the act. It makes a number of changes to court practices, primarily opening court records and proceedings to the public.
The bill (1) requires the Commission on Official Legal Publications to make state agency regulations available to the public through the Internet, (2) increases the fine for a first offense of underage drinking, (3) exempts state employees in other states from a duty to pay for certified family relations records, (4) requires crime victims to provide their telephone numbers to agencies responsible for notifying them of an inmate's request for release, (5) permits judicial marshals to serve capiases in child support cases, (6) amends the tender age exception to the hearsay rule in PA 07-143, (7) extends the prohibitions against nonattorneys practicing law, and (8) requires the chief medical examiner to release a deceased person's biological materials under specified circumstances.
Lastly, the bill makes technical and conforming changes.
§ 1 — COURT RULES
The bill requires judges to follow the same procedures when proposing new or changes to rules of evidence as they currently do when adopting or changing rules regulating pleadings, practice, and procedure. This means, they must hold public hearings after providing reasonable notice in the Connecticut Law Journal.
The bill requires the rules committee or the appellate rules committee to submit to the Judiciary Committee for review and comment any proposed new rules or changes to existing rules. The Judiciary Committee has 30 days from receipt to submit comments to the chairperson of the rules committee. The chairperson must distribute any comments to the judges at the meeting held to adopt the proposed rules, which must take place after the 30-day period. The chairperson must promptly forward to the Judiciary Committee any proposed new rule or change in an existing rule the judges adopt. The rule or change is not effective until at least 90 days after the date it was forwarded to the committee.
Within the 90 days, the Judiciary Committee may meet to review the new or changed rule and vote to communicate in writing any concerns it has regarding the new or changed rule. The judges may meet to reconsider their adoption of the new or changed rule within 90 days after receipt of the Judiciary Committee's concerns. If the judges do not address the concerns or make no revisions after reconsideration, the new or changed rule cannot become effective until the end of the next regular legislative session. If they make revisions, they must promptly forward the revised rules to the Judiciary Committee. The committee has 30 days from the date of receipt to meet to review the revised rules. If the committee meets and makes no recommendations or opts not to meet, the revised rules may be effective any time after the expiration of the 30-days. If the committee meets and expresses concerns regarding the revisions, they cannot become effective until the end of the next regular legislative session.
If judges find extraordinary circumstances warranting the immediate adoption and promulgation of a new rule or revision, they may adopt it without first submitting it to the Judiciary Committee for review. The “emergency” rule is effective on the dates the judges specify and remain effective as so specified, but no later than one year after adoption unless the regular procure is complied with (i.e., the rule is forwarded to the Judiciary Committee for review and any concerns are addressed).
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2007
§§ 2-4 — JUDICIAL SELECTION COMMISSION
Evaluation of State Referees
The bill requires the Judicial Selection Commission to evaluate incumbent state referees seeking reappointment and forward the names of those it recommends to the governor. The commission must establish its evaluation criteria in regulations.
The procedure the bill requires for evaluating state referees is very similar to the one the commission follows to evaluate judges seeking reappointment to the same court. This means the commission must:
1. consider each referee's legal ability, competence, integrity, character, temperament, and any other relevant information;
2. investigate and interview each referee;
3. hold a hearing if a preliminary examination indicates further inquiry is necessary;
4. subpoena witnesses if relevant to the inquiry;
5. notify the referee of the date, time, and place of any commission hearing to consider his or her reappointment and of any claims against him or her;
6. presume that each referee is qualified;
7. vote, by a super majority, whether to recommend the referee for appointment or reappointment; and
8. submit any recommendation to the governor.
The governor may not nominate an incumbent state referee denied a recommendation by the commission.
Reports to the Judiciary Committee
By law, the commission submits an annual report to the Judiciary Committee on the number of judicial candidates interviewed and recommended for nomination, broken down by race, gender, national origin, religion, and years of experience. The bill requires the commission to include in the report the same information on incumbent state referees.
List of Judicial Candidates
By law, the commission must compile a list of qualified attorneys seeking judicial appointments and judges seeking appointments to different courts. The bill requires the commission to keep the list confidential, except that the names of qualified candidates for associate judge and chief justice of the state Supreme Court must be publicly available.
The bill requires the commission to establish and maintain an Internet website. The commission must post on the site its office address, telephone number, e-mail address, duties, and procedures, including the procedure for filing an application to become a judge, and a copy of the application form.
Records and Meetings
Under the bill, the commission must file notice of its regular meetings and make agendas available in compliance with FOIA. Additionally, the commission must post meeting notices and agendas on its website and provide them to the Judiciary Committee chairpersons. The commission may redact from its public agendas any information that might personally identify candidates, incumbent judges seeking appointment to the same or a different court, or incumbent state referees seeking reappointment.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007
§ 5-10 — JUDICIAL REVIEW COUNCIL
By law, the JRC investigates complaints against judges, compensation commissioners, and family support magistrates. If it finds probable cause that such an official violated certain standards of conduct, it holds a hearing. If the JRC finds the official guilty of the conduct, it can discipline him or her.
The bill requires the JRC to create and maintain a website. The site must include:
1. its address, phone number, and e-mail address;
2. information on the JRC's purpose, authority, jurisdiction, and procedures;
3. procedures for filing complaints against judges, compensation commissioners, and family support magistrates;
4. a copy of a complaint form;
5. statutory grounds for censure, suspension, or removal of judges, compensation commissioner, and family support magistrates;
6. the code of judicial conduct (or a link to it);
7. relevant statutory and regulatory provisions (or a link to them); and
8. procedures for investigating and disposing of complaints and the dispositions available to the JRC.
The bill prohibits filing complaints electronically.
The bill requires the Judicial Branch's website to link to the JRC website under the heading “Complaints against Judges.”
Notice of Meetings
The bill requires the JRC to provide notice of its meetings and make agendas available to the public as required by FOIA. It provides that a public agenda cannot contain personally identifiable information that might identify the subject of a complaint unless the JRC has already found probable cause that the person engaged in conduct that could be grounds for removal, suspension, or censure. (By law, investigations by the JRC are confidential until it finds probable cause.)
The bill requires the JRC to post notices and agendas on its website and give copies to the Judiciary Committee chairmen.
The bill authorizes the JRC to issue advisory opinions about whether contemplated conduct would subject a judge, compensation commissioner, or family support magistrate to discipline. To issue an advisory opinion, (1) a judge, compensation commissioner, or family support magistrate must request it and (2) a majority of the JRC members present must vote for it.
The bill requires the council to publish advisory opinions in the Connecticut Law Journal. The bill makes the opinions binding on the JRC unless amended or revoked. They are considered final decisions and appealable to the Supreme Court. In reviewing an opinion, the bill requires the Supreme Court to uphold it unless the decision was arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or a clearly unwarranted exercise of discretion.
Under the bill, an advisory opinion is binding on the JRC regarding the person who requests it and relies on it in good faith. It also makes it an absolute defense in JRC proceedings that the person who requested it relied on it.
Disclosure of Complaint
Under current law, an investigation to determine whether there is probable cause for a violation is confidential and any individual who provides information to the JRC cannot disclose knowledge of the investigation to others until the JRC decides on probable cause. But under the law, (1) an open investigation may be conducted if the subject requests it and (2) information known independently is not confidential. The bill provides that the council may disclose that a complaint was filed if asked and the (1) subject of the complaint is provided an opportunity to be heard and (2) council determines that the essential facts underlying the complaint have been widely made public and the public interest requires disclosure.
The law allows the JRC to admonish a judge, compensation commissioner, or family support magistrate if the conduct at issue was not a violation of the standards of conduct that subjects the person to removal, suspension, or censure, but gives the appearance of impropriety or is an unfavorable judicial practice. Current law prohibits disclosing the admonishment except that the JRC must notify (1) the person who filed a complaint, if the admonishment is based on one, and (2) the Judiciary Committee. The bill makes the admonishment a public record and retains the notice requirements.
Probable Cause Hearings
If the preliminary investigation indicates probable cause to believe the judge, compensation commissioner, or family support magistrate committed a violation that may subject the individual to censure, suspension, or removal, the law requires the JRC to hold a hearing on the conduct or complaint.
The bill specifies that the council must determine whether the individual is guilty of violating the standards of conduct after all evidence and arguments are presented at the hearing. It also makes the record of the proceedings, including any complaint, transcripts, statements, and other documents introduced into evidence are open for public inspection. But information exempt from disclosure under FOIA must be removed or redacted. Under current law, all hearings are open.
Whenever a complaint against a judge, compensation commissioner, or family support magistrate is pending before the JRC in the final year of his or her term, current law requires the JRC to treat the complaint as privileged and conduct an expedited investigation in time to make a recommendation to the Judicial Selection Commission and the governor. The bill also requires the JRC to complete the investigation in time to submit its reports concerning the complaint to the governor, Judicial Selection Commission, and Judiciary Committee.
The bill gives the JRC the option of imposing a civil penalty of up to $10,000 per violation, in addition to censure or suspending a judge, compensation commissioner, or family support magistrate for up to one year.
The law also allows the JRC to refer a judge or magistrate to the Supreme Court recommending a suspension of more than one year or removal, and refer a compensation commissioner to the governor recommending removal. A vote to impose a civil penalty, just as a vote to censure, suspend, or refer for removal, must be approved by a majority of JRC members.
The bill eliminates requirements that the JRC submit recommendations about judges who are reappointed or nominated to a different court and compensation commissioners and family support magistrates who are reappointed.
Regarding judges, the bill eliminates the required recommendations to the governor, Judicial Selection Commission, and Judiciary Committee, and provisions on when the JRC may and must refuse to recommend a judge. Just as it can under current law, the JRC must report on any complaint filed about the judge, dispositions of complaints, and any investigations.
Regarding family support magistrates, the bill still requires the JRC to report on any investigation of the magistrate and adds that it must report on any complaint filed against the magistrate and their dispositions.
Regarding compensation commissioners, the bill eliminates the required recommendation to the governor and Judiciary Committee. But it still requires the JRC to report on any investigations and also requires a report of any complaints filed and their dispositions.
By law, a judge or family support magistrate aggrieved by a decision of the JRC can appeal it to the Supreme Court. The bill requires the court to conduct a new review of the JRC's legal conclusions and, when reviewing its factual findings, to determine whether there was substantial evidence to support those findings.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007
§§ 11-12 — APPOINTING THE CHIEF COURT ADMINISTRATOR AND PROBATE COURT ADMINISTRATOR
Chief Court Administrator
By law, the Supreme Court chief justice must appoint a chief court administrator who serves at the chief justice's pleasure. The bill makes the administrator's term coterminous with that of the chief justice. It also specifies that if the administrator is a Superior, Appellate, or Supreme Court judge, the end of his or her term as administrator does not affect his or her term as a judge.
Probate Court Administrator
Starting July 1, 2007, the bill requires the Supreme Court chief justice to nominate a probate court administrator for appointment by the General Assembly. Under current law, the chief justice appoints this administrator without legislative approval.
The bill sets the administrator's term as coterminous with the chief justice's. As under current law, the administrators serve at the pleasure of the chief justice.
The bill requires that the probate court administrator be a probate judge, a former probate judge, or an attorney with at least eight years of experience in probate law. If he or she is a probate judge, the bill specifies that when the term as administrator ends it does not affect his or her term as a judge or probate judge.
The chief justice must refer his nomination to the Judiciary Committee, which must report on it within 30 legislative days, but not later than seven legislative days before the General Assembly adjourns.
When the General Assembly is not in session, the chief justice submits the appointment to the Judiciary Committee which can, within 45 days on the call of either chairperson, hold a special meeting to approve or disapprove the appointee by majority vote. If the committee cannot complete its investigation and act within 45 days, it can extend the period by 15 days on written notice to the chief justice. An appointee cannot serve as administrator until the committee approves the appointment. If the committee does not act during the required period, the appointment is considered approved.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2007
§ 13 — CIVIL ACTIONS AGAINST STATE MARSHALS
The bill requires a civil action against a state marshal based on neglect or default of office or duties to be brought within two years after it occurs. It deletes this provision for the offices of sheriff and deputy sheriff, which no longer exist.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage
§§ 14-20 — JUDICIAL OPENNESS
§ 14 — Administrative Function
By law, FOIA applies to the judicial branch, but only with respect to its administrative functions. However, “administrative function” is not currently defined in statute.
The bill defines “administrative functions” as (1) all matters not directly related to judicial decision-making in court cases and (2) those matters relating to the management of the internal institutional machinery of the judicial branch, including budgeting, accounting, rulemaking, personnel, facilities, physical operations, docketing, and scheduling.
§ 15 — Complaints Regarding Judicial Conduct
The bill requires the chief court administrator to review any complaint of judicial misconduct that he receives to determine if it warrants a referral to JRC for further investigation. If so, the administrator must refer the complaint. By law, council investigations are confidential; however, if it finds probable cause that a judge's behavior subjects him or her to removal, suspension, or censure, any further hearings are open to the public. A finding that a judge acted in a manner that gives the appearance of impropriety may result in an admonishment of which the council notifies the Judiciary Committee but does not otherwise disclose.
If the chief court administrator, in consultation with the chief justice, determines that the complaint is (1) without merit, (2) properly the subject of review through an existing adjudicatory procedure, or (3) otherwise not within the purview of the Office of the Chief Court Administrator, the complaint cannot be publicly disclosed. If, however, they determine that the complaint warrants administrative action, but not a referral to the JRC, the chief court administrator may admonish the judge by recommending a change in conduct or practice, as appropriate. The admonishment must be a part of the judge's performance evaluation, which is not publicly disclosed. However, the bill makes admonishments public records.
§ 16-17 — Criminal information Available on the Internet
The bill requires the Judicial Branch to make conviction information and the Superior Court's criminal docket available to the public on its Internet website. This information is currently available to the public.
“Conviction information” means court records and other criminal history information used to identify criminal offenders that has not been erased. The branch must include on its website case docket numbers and each defendant's name, arrest date, charges, and disposition, including any fine and term in prison and on probation. The website cannot include the defendant's address or driver's license number. The information must be searchable by the defendant's name, date of birth, and docket number. Conviction information relating to misdemeanors must be removed from Judicial's and all public agencies' websites five years after the conviction date.
The posted docket information must include the docket number and charge and the defendant's name and birth date.
§ 18 — Police Reports
The bill requires that a police report become part of the court file and open to the public if it is used during a court hearing to determine probable cause unless the court, in response to a motion, finds good cause to order all or a portion of it sealed for seven days. The requirement applies regardless of whether probable cause is found.
If the court seals the report, the moving party may make a recommendation, within seven days, about the details of the sealing order, including its duration. If no recommendation is made, the report is public after the seven days.
§ 19 — Nuisance Abatement
By law, the state can commence an action to abate a public nuisance. The court may grant a temporary ex parte order to abate the nuisance if the state asks for it. The court must direct the state to notify the defendant and provide him with a copy of the order. At a court hearing, a defendant may show why the abatement order should be modified or vacated. An ex parte order may be only granted if it appears from the specific facts shown by affidavit and complaint that there is probable cause to believe that a public nuisance exists and the temporary relief requested is necessary to protect public health, welfare, or safety. The show cause hearing must be scheduled within five business days after service of the order.
The bill eliminates the court's discretion to seal the affidavit upon a finding that the state's interest in non-disclosure substantially outweighs the defendant's right to disclosure.
§ 20 — Access to Court Proceedings and Records
The bill extends, from 72 hours to three business days, the deadline for anyone to appeal a court order (1) banning them from a court session or (2) sealing or limiting the disclosure of any files, affidavits, documents, or other material on file with the court or filed in connection with a court proceeding. The extension, like the underlying law, does not apply to juvenile delinquency or youthful offender proceedings or records.
The bill extends the right to appeal to people banned from any other session or prohibited from accessing any other records that the court may lawfully prohibit people from attending or accessing, respectively.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2007, except the provisions requiring conviction information on the internet is effective on February 1, 2008.
§ 21 — AVAILABILITY OF STATE AGENCY REGULATIONS
The bill requires the Commission on Official Legal Publications to make all state agency regulations available to the public through the Internet. By law, the commission publishes and distributes state agency regulations. It publishes (1) in the Connecticut Law Journal at least each month the text of regulations adopted in the preceding month and (2) a compilation of state agency regulations adopted since October 27, 1970 at least semiannually.
The bill also requires the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial branches to include on their websites links to compilations of effective regulations and text of recently filed regulations.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2007
§§ 22-31 — COURT OPERATIONS
The bill authorizes the retention of Judicial Branch records, papers, and documents using a computer-based imaging system or process and authorizes the retention by computer-based imaging or microfilming of any records, papers, or documents instead of just court records, papers, and documents the Judicial Branch must retain (§22). The bill specifies that computer-based images that are accurate reproductions of business records are admissible as evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding, whether or not the original is in existence (§ 24).
The bill requires the waiver of any copying fee payable to the court clerk by law for a person who is indigent and unable to pay such fee, in accordance with criteria the Judicial Branch establishes (§ 25).
The bill makes the alternate incarceration plan public for any criminal defendant the court orders to participate in an alternate incarceration program (§ 26).
The bill makes public any request a prosecutor makes after an arrest, to extend an order sealing an affidavit in support of a search warrant. It requires the court to extend the order if it finds that the order is necessary to preserve an interest that is determined to override the public's interest in viewing the affidavit, or for good cause shown (§ 27).
The bill requires the sealing of the written report concerning a criminal defendant's competency to stand trial, but only as to the public, and prohibits disclosure of the report's contents, except during any evidentiary hearing about the defendant's competency at which the contents are relied upon by a participant as the basis for testimony, questioning of witnesses, arguments to the court, judicial findings, or as otherwise authorized (§28). It also requires that the court state on the record the reasons for its finding that the defendant is competent or not competent (§ 29).
The bill requires that records for participation in the pretrial alcohol education program be retained for 10 years instead of seven years (§ 30).
§ 22 — Computer-Based Imaging System or Process
The law authorizes the chief court administrator to microfilm all court records, papers, or documents that are required to be retained by court rule, statute, or administrative directive. The bill authorizes him to also reproduce them as computerized images and to retain by microfilm or computer imaging all other records, papers, or documents the Judicial Branch must maintain.
The device used to create computerized images must be one that accurately reproduces the original in detail. The bill requires that the computerized image be considered and treated the same as the original records, papers or documents, if a paper or electronic certificate of authenticity is associated with each computerized image in accordance with policies and procedures the Office of the Chief Court Administrator adopts.
The bill defines a “computerized image” as any electronic reproduction of the original by a computer-based imaging system or process.
§ 27 — Order Sealing an Affidavit In Support of a Search Warrant
The bill makes public any request a prosecutor makes after an arrest, to extend an order sealing an affidavit in support of a search warrant. It requires the court to extend the order if it finds that the order is necessary to preserve an interest that is determined to override the public's interest in viewing the affidavit, or for good cause shown.
The bill specifies that an oral representation by the prosecuting authority that (1) the personal safety of a confidential informant would be jeopardized, (2) the search is part of a continuing investigation that would be adversely affected, or (3) the unsealing of the affidavit would require disclosure of information or material prohibited from being disclosed by law, may be sufficient to establish good cause. Any such extension must be to a date certain, not to exceed 90 days from the date of the request. The bill authorizes a prosecutor to seek more than one such extension, but no single extension may exceed 90 days.
§ 30 — Record of Pretrial Alcohol Education Program
The bill requires the record of participation in the alcohol education program (AEP) be retained by the Court Support Services Division (CSSD) for 10 years instead of seven years. By law, CSSD must transmit to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) a record of the participation of each person who satisfactorily completes it. The bill requires DMV to maintain the record for 10 years instead of seven years as part of such person's driving record.
By law, CSSD must transmit to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) the record of participation of any person who satisfactorily completes the AEP program who has been charged with a violation of certain alcohol-related boating offenses (operating a vessel while under the influence of liquor or drugs; reckless operation of a vessel in the first degree while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, or reckless operation of a vessel in the second degree while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs).
The bill requires the DEP to maintain for 10 years instead of seven years the record of a person's participation in such program as a part of such person's boater certification record.
§ 31 — Forfeited Bonds
Under current law the Judicial Department must send the $10 additional fee it collects in connection with any forfeited bond for certain motor vehicle violations to the municipality in which the violation occurred. These violations include such offenses as speeding, reckless driving, traveling unreasonably fast, and driving in a right hand lane.
The bill eliminates the requirement and instead specifies that the total amount of any forfeited bond for certain motor vehicle violations, when the bond is composed in part of the $10 additional fee required by law for such violation be deposited in the General Fund as one undifferentiated lump sum amount or deposited in the Special Transportation Fund as one undifferentiated lump sum amount as may be required by statute. By law, unaffected by this bill, the Judicial Department must send the $10 fee it collects from fines (not forfeited bonds) paid for these violations to the municipalities in which the violations occurred.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007, except that the provisions on computer imaging are effective July 1, 2007.
§ 32 — PENALTY FOR UNDERAGE DRINKING
The bill increases the fine for a first offense of underage drinking. Any minor who possesses any alcoholic liquor on public or private property must be fined at least $200, but not more than $500, regardless of the number of convictions. By law, minors are not subject to the penalty if they (1) are over age 18 and legally possess the liquor in the course of employment, (2) possess the liquor on the order of a practicing physician, or (3) possess the liquor while accompanied by a parent, guardian, or spouse who is at least age 21.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007
§ 33 — COURT FEES
The bill exempts state employees from other states from the duty to pay a fee to receive certified copies of family relations records from Connecticut courts. The exemption applies only to state employees acting within the scope of their employment.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007
§ 34 — ALTERNATIVE INCARCERATION
By law, the chief court administrator may, as part of a publicly bid contract for an alternative incarceration program, include a requirement that the contractor provide space for division staff to meet with probationers and oversee and monitor the program. The bill specifies that this authority applies to contracts executed before, on, and after the bill's passage. It also makes it clear that the Court Support Services Division has authority to contract for and pay professional service fees that improve direct services for probation referrals.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage
§§ 35-36 — CRIME VICTIM NOTIFICATION
By law, crime victims who want notification of an inmate's request for release from custody must provide their addresses to the Department of Correction's Victim Services Unit and the Office of Victim Services. Although these addresses are confidential, the law allows the recipients to maintain current addresses by sharing information with each other.
The bill requires these crime victims to also provide their telephone numbers. In addition to each other, the bill allows recipients to share information with the Board of Pardons and Paroles.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007
§ 37 — CHILD SUPPORT
The bill permits judicial marshals to serve a capias issued in a child support matter by a court or family support magistrate on anyone in their custody or within a courthouse where they provide security.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2007
§ 38 — HEARSAY
PA 07-143 creates an exception to Connecticut's hearsay rule for statements of young children about their sexual or physical assault by someone with authority or apparent authority over them. It requires courts to accept these statements as evidence in criminal, juvenile, or civil proceedings under certain circumstances. The bill amends the act by changing the subject of the child's statement from someone with authority or apparent authority over the child to the child's parent or guardian or someone exercising comparable authority. It also eliminates the requirement for courts to accept the statements in civil proceedings.
EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2007
§§ 39-40 — PRACTICE OF LAW
The bill extends the prohibition against non-attorneys practicing law to anyone who is not authorized by statute or court rules to provide legal services. The person is barred from engaging in the same activities as people who are not admitted to the Connecticut Bar. Specifically, he or she cannot:
1. practice law or appear as an attorney for anyone else in any Connecticut court;
2. make it a business to practice law or appear as an attorney for anyone else in any such court;
3. make it a business to solicit employment as an attorney;
4. hold himself or herself out to the public as being entitled to practice law;
5. assume to be an attorney;
6. assume, use, or advertise the title of lawyer, attorney and counselor-at-law, attorney-at-law, counselor-at-law, attorney, counselor, attorney and counselor, or an equivalent term, in a manner that suggests that he or she is a legal practitioner of law; or
7. advertise that he or she, either alone or with others, owns, conducts, or maintains a place of business of any kind for the practice of law.
The bill broadens the list of people exempted from the ban to include anyone acting as an agent or representative for a party in arbitration. Under current law, the only arbitration representatives or agents exempted are those involved in international arbitrations.
With an exception for employees who provide legal services to their employers, the law subjects violators to imprisonment for up to two months, a fine of up to $250, or both. They are also deemed in contempt of court.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage
§ 41 — MEDICAL EXAMINERS
The bill requires the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to release a deceased person's biological material to determine paternity or diagnose a life-threatening illness in a living person upon the written consent of the deceased person's next of kin. If consent is not provided, an interested party may ask the Superior Court in the Judicial District where the death occurred to order the release. The court may issue the order if it finds that the applicant has a legitimate interest in the material.
EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2007