Category Archives: Legislation

Pending Legislation in Connecticut.

Attorney Leo Diana Nominated To The Bench

Governor Malloy is nominating 16 attorneys to the Superior Court Bench.

One of those Attorneys is Leo Diana of Manchester.

I’ve known Leo for nearly 9 years. We have been on the opposite sides of several cases during that time. I’ve had a few highly contested hearings opposite Attorney Diana. And I can’t recall the last time I’ve appeared in family court and not run into Leo.

In early January of 2014, Leo was defending a post judgment motion that I had filed. The case was complicated to say the least with very significant problems and very limited resources.

That cold early January morning, Leo showed up in Hartford Family Court on my motion. He was volunteering his time. He had no obligation to be there, whatsoever. Serving as mayor of Manchester and running a busy law practice – Leo has lots of places to be. Yet on that morning, with no other case on the docket, he was in Hartford. He was there as best I can tell – to help someone who needed help.

I talked the case over with Leo. I educated him about my client’s position. He listened. He spoke with his client. Then he used his many years of experience to propose a solution. It was a solution that was radically different than anything the parties had considered before. After thinking it over – Leo had proposed probably the only workable solution to a complex problem. To use a painfully over used term, it was “outside the box”.

For reasons beyond Leo’s control, his solution did not resolve the case. However, both me and my client appreciated his involvement and thoughtfulness. Leo managed this result while at the same time advancing his client’s interest and protecting her legal rights.

At a time when family law attorneys, and GALs are under attack, it’s important to for the General Assembly to be reminded of the outstanding and unsung work that attorneys like Leo Diana did on that January morning.

Leo Diana is fantastic attorney who is going to make a fantastic judge. He will listen. He will help solve problems for those who appear before him. 

Leo’s nomination reflects well upon Governor Malloy and his commitment to strengthening Connecticut’s courts.

 

Thoughts on Divorce Reforms In Connecticut

Connecticut’s divorce laws, courts, and judges have come under significant scrutiny in recent weeks. The system is in need of reform.

I’ve practiced in the area of family law for the past 8 and a half years. Right now, my family practice consists of helping parties in a divorce solve problems. I cannot deal with the anger and frustration that comes with some cases. Life is too short.

In no particular order here are my thoughts:

1. There should be a mediation center – not in court. Family relations is overwhelmed. Parties often sit around for hours waiting to speak to a mediator for 15 minutes. Mediations should be scheduled at set times and less rushed. Early intervention works. Combine housing, foreclosure, and family mediators into a building suitable for mediation.

2. If mediation is not successful, then promptly assign hearing dates. Family courts can use more judges but that’s likely not in the cards. Judges resolve problems. They don’t solve them. In the event the parties are unable to take control of their own affairs – prompt resolution is the best course.

3. Create a Guardian Ad Litem office. Pay Guardian Ad Litems through the State. In the event parties need a GAL, they should contribute to the cost on a sliding scale.

4. Eliminate the 90 day waiting period. For some parties, the 90 days is purgatory. They have their affairs in order. They reached a fair and equitable resolution of their affairs. Let them get divorced.

5. Set alimony by guidelines. This works so well for child support. Parties should have certainty in this respect. Alimony disputes often spill into custody disputes. Take away the alimony fight.

Connecticut family courts have great people serving in capacities on the bench, at the bar, in family relations, and as guardian ad litems. They do lots of good within the existing framework. But that framework needs to be fixed.

Maligning Judges, attorneys, and guardian ad litems with vicious attacks is poor advocacy. They aren’t the problem. Structural changes are needed.

Malloy Should Expand Storm Probe To Include Cox Communications

Restoring phone, internet, and television services are a lower priority than restoring power.  No one died because they couldn’t watch this year’s college football game of the century.

This post isn’t about that. 

It is about the response of a utility to a significant storm.

Where I live, we have been without phone, television or internet since 5:00 on Saturday, October 30th. Today is November 8th.

Yesterday, I contacted Cox, they acknowledged the outage and had no estimate of when it will be restored. Ten days after a storm and you have no idea when service will be restored? A communications company? Not my friend in the digital age.

I know the storm was bad but people less than a mile away have service and to my untrained eye there does not appear to be any downed wires in between.

Cox’s  failure to communicate with its customers and to restore service will have me looking elsewhere when my contract is up. No outage map on its website. No messages about the outage. Nothing. Just ads to “Build Your Bundle”.

CL&P is getting most of the well deserved heat for their handling of this storm but Governor Malloy should expand his inquiry to Cox. This outage has hurt home businesses in my neighborhood and is bad for business in Connecticut.

Insult to Injury: Connecticut’s Rape Kit Backlog

OLR (my favorite office in State Government aside from LCO) just completed a shocking report on Connecticut’s shameful rape kit backlog.

One of the great difficulties in representing someone who is the victim of a crime is explaining the length of time it takes to get reports back from the State. Despite all of the bluster one reads about State Government being too large, from my experience in dealing with all sorts of State agencies – staffing levels are bare bones which makes quick turnarounds of almost anything impossible.

With that in mind OLR’s Rape Kit Backlog report perhaps isn’t that shocking:

-Two hundred five kits are waiting to be processed; the lab estimates that it will take more than six months to finish testing them. Another 40 have been processed through the first two steps and are awaiting DNA analysis. Given existing staffing levels, it will take the lab about five months to complete those analyses, reports Major Podgorski.

-Based on our comparison with a geographically diverse group of other crime labs, we concluded that the length of time it took Connecticut’s crime lab to complete sexual assault evidence testing, particularly in cases where the rape kit was submitted with other evidence, was significantly longer than that of other labs, except Rhode Island, whose turnaround time for testing rape kits without other evidence was six months, the same as Connecticut’s.

The report does say that “forensic lab staff triages cases daily, giving priority to aggravated sexual assaults and those with elderly or young victims”.

The report also details what legislative efforts other states have taken to reduce backlog. Hopefully the General Assembly takes steps to reduce the rape kit backlog during the 2012 legislative session because our current situation is shameful.

Why CT State Employees Will Be Laid Off

I’ve seen a number of posts on Facebook suggesting that State employees will not face layoffs. The posts invariably predict some last second miracle. I’m decidedly less optimistic. Here’s why:

1. The 2012 budget deficit just got larger. The union concession agreement would have realized savings starting July 1, 2011.  Layoffs won’t happen until September 1st.  No cost saving changes to health care plans will take place.  This makes some kind of “August miracle” less likely because after July 1st the State will need more and not less from the unions. If an agreement is reached prior to workers being laid off it may save some jobs but some will likely be lost as a result of our new and larger deficit hole.

Each day that passes without concessions or layoffs adds to the State deficit.

2.  Layoff notices are sure to spook some union members. It’s one thing to vote against a concession package when you think you’re safe and it’s your co-worker who is going to lose his job. Concessions look awfully attractive when you get a pink slip. Pink slips may change some minds but they won’t change enough to spare layoffs.  The package needs 14 of 15 unions and 80% of all votes to carry. The package that was rejected got 11 of 15 unions and a total of 57% of all members. The gap is too large to yield the necessary concessions; and

3.  With a larger deficit caused by the unions rejecting the initial concession package – it is impossible for Malloy to go back to the unions with a more generous package and the unions are not going to accept a less generous package.

The only option is layoffs.

I hope I’m wrong but I think I’m right. What do you think?

Amazon To A CT Law Blog: You’re Fired Because of New Tax

If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you’ll see a little amazon widget.  I participate in the Amazon Associates Program.  I get paid when people click on the link and buy products from Amazon. The only people who buy things using this link are either me or my family. Every quarter I get an Amazon gift card in some amount based on a formula.

Since I began as an associate in September 2010, this has resulted in $34.87 in income from this site. This morning, Amazon fired me.

May be I should relocate to another state? Why can’t I be, aconnecticutlawblog.com with headquarters in Idaho?

Here’s their letter to me:

Hello,

For well over a decade, the Amazon Associates Program has worked with thousands of Connecticut residents. Unfortunately, the budget signed by Governor Malloy contains a sales tax provision that compels us to terminate this program for Connecticut-based participants effective immediately. It specifically imposes the collection of taxes from consumers on sales by online retailers – including but not limited to those referred by Connecticut-based affiliates like you – even if those retailers have no physical presence in the state.

We opposed this new tax law because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It was supported by big-box retailers, most of which are based outside Connecticut, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors. Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue. We deeply regret that we must take this action.

As a result of the new law, contracts with all Connecticut residents participating in the Amazon Associates Program will be terminated today, June 10, 2011. Those Connecticut residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to Amazon.com,Endless.comMYHABIT.COM or SmallParts.com. Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned on or before today, June 10, 2011, will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule.

You are receiving this email because our records indicate that you are a resident of Connecticut. If you are not currently a resident of Connecticut, or if you are relocating to another state in the near future, you can manage the details of your Associates account here. And if you relocate to another state after June 10, 2011, please contact us for reinstatement into the Amazon Associates Program.

To avoid confusion, we would like to clarify that this development will only impact our ability to offer the Associates Program to Connecticut residents and will not affect their ability to purchase from www.amazon.com.

We have enjoyed working with you and other Connecticut-based participants in the Amazon Associates Program and, if this situation is rectified, would very much welcome the opportunity to re-open our Associates Program to Connecticut residents.

Regards,

The Amazon Associates Team

Update: CT Passes Public Cord Blood Banking Bill

Update: I’ve written twice before about Public Cord Blood Banking in Connecticut.  My interview with sponsor Senator Len Fasano is here and my original post is here.

This afternoon, I received an email from Representative David Kiner informing me that SB 152 had passed the House and Senate unanimously.  Click here to read the bill.

Great job by all who worked to make sure this important legislation was passed.

The Best Amendment of the 2011 Legislative Session

“AN ACT CONCERNING OWNERS OF DOGS THAT HAVE VICIOUS DISPOSITIONS OR THAT BARK EXCESSIVELY. “

(b) The provisions of subsection (a) of this section shall not be deemed to apply to any dog engaged in any of the following activities: (1) Romping on the beach, (2) frolicking in a dog park, (3) participating in doggie day care, (4) dog sledding, (5) tracking a person, (6) treeing a raccoon, (7) chasing rabbits or butterflies, (8) riding on fire-fighting vehicles, or (9) herding livestock.” Linky goodness.

CT Media Please Read Before Reporting On Damages In CT Court Cases

This morning while making breakfast, I had a local news station on.

Somewhere between making the coffee and my english muffin, I heard a newscaster say that “so and so is suing so and so for fifteen thousand dollars.”

I thought to myself “probably not.”

I hear this several times a year on the news, so I figure I’ll use this space to clear things up.

In some states, I’ve seen pleadings that read and the Plaintiff demands $1,456,103.27 or some other crazy number.

In Connecticut state court’s that’s not the case. The plaintiff is required to attach a jurisdictional pleading that reads something like this:

The Plaintiff seeks money damages which are within the jurisdiction of the court and the amount of which exclusive of interest and costs is in excess of Fifteen Thousand ($15,000.00) Dollars.

This language has nothing to do with what the Plaintiff is actually seeking in the case. Such language is applicable to cases where the plaintiff is seeking hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

This post was originally written in June of 2008.