Here’s a look at the second week of the Connecticut Supreme Court’s First Term:
Monday, September 23, 2019
The first case of the week is State v. Blaine, S.C. 20087, in which the Court will decide whether reversal under the plain error rule is warranted where the trial court failed to instruct the jury in accordance with an Appellate Court decision that was on appeal by way of certification to the Supreme Court at the time of the instruction in question. The defendant claims that the trial court failed to instruct the jury in accordance with State v. Pond, 138 Conn. App. 228 (2012), aff’d, 315 Conn. 451 (2015), which held that a conspiracy conviction requires proof that the defendant had the specific intent to commit every element of the planned offense, including those elements of the underlying crime that do not require specific intent. The state claims that, because Pond was pending before the Supreme Court at the time of the instruction, the law was unsettled and reversal under the plain error rule is not available.
The second case, Rutter v. Janis, et al., S.C. 20122, involves General Statutes § 14-60, which allows an automobile dealer to loan a dealer license plate to a customer for “not more than thirty days in any year,” and protects dealers that comply with the statute from liability for damages caused by the operator of a motor vehicle that is displaying dealer plates. At issue is whether the thirty day time period includes the day on which the dealer plates are loaned to the customer, or whether the thirty days starts to run on the following day.
Tuesday, September 24, 2019
The related appeals in Jenzack Partners, LLC v. Stoneridge Associates, LLC, S.C. 20188 & 20189 arise from an action by the plaintiff, an assignee of a mortgage, seeking to foreclose on the mortgage. The defendant originally executed a guarantee in favor of the assignor, and also gave the assignor a mortgage on her property. The Court will address whether the plaintiff had standing to foreclose on the mortgage where the assignor never assigned the guarantee to the plaintiff. The Court will also decide whether the trial court properly admitted the plaintiff’s records concerning the amount due on the note under the business records exception to the hearsay rule, where the records incorporated information received from the assignor about the starting balance of the note about which the witness who authenticated the records did not have firsthand knowledge.
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
The Court will hear argument in two criminal cases that involve the ability of a party to raise unpreserved evidentiary claims on appeal when those claims are based on a precedential opinion released after final judgment. Both cases involve the Court’s recent decision in State v. Edwards, 325 Conn. 97 (2017), holding that a trial court must hold a hearing pursuant to State v. Porter, 241 Conn. 57 (1997), before admitting expert testimony regarding cell phone location data. In the first case, State v. Jackson, S.C. 20193, the Court will decide whether the Appellate Court properly declined to review the defendant’s unpreserved claim that the trial court abused its discretion by not holding a Porter hearing to assess the reliability of expert testimony concerning cell phone location data. In the second case, State v. Turner, S.C. 20186, the Court will decide whether the Appellate Court properly held that the defendant was not entitled to review of his unpreserved Edwards claim under either the plain error rule, or under the doctrine of State v. Golding, 213 Conn. 233 (1989), which allows review of unpreserved constitutional claims. Both defendants claim that they were entitled to review of their claims because the Supreme Court’s decision in Edwards was not released until after final judgment.
Thursday, September 26, 2019
The first term of the year concludes with Lafferty v. Jones, S.C. 20327, an interlocutory public interest appeal in the case against radio host Alex Jones and his companies, brought by surviving family members of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. The case involves Connecticut’s “anti-SLAPP” statute, General Statutes § 52-196a, which provides defendants the right to seek an expedited “special motion to dismiss” in a lawsuit that is based on the exercise of the right to free speech. At issue is whether the trial court abused its discretion by precluding the defendants from pursuing their special motion to dismiss as a sanction for various discovery abuses and statements by Jones on his radio show allegedly threatening the plaintiffs’ attorney. The defendants claim that the sanction was improper because they were not afforded adequate notice and an opportunity to be heard, and because Jones’s statements on his radio show constituted constitutionally protected speech.