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Judicial Branch Announcements

Thursday, March 26, 2020   (0 Comments)
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GBBA Member,

Please see information below provided by the Judicial Branch.  It is important for all of us to pay attention to the daily changes in the practice and procedures.  Please pay attention to all announcements from Section Committee Chairs as well as announcements from the Judicial Branch and Governor’s office.

 

  1. Statement from Chief Court Administrator Patrick L. Carroll III

  Regarding the Danbury Courthouse located at 146 White Street

 The Judicial Branch learned today that an employee assigned to the Danbury courthouse clerk's office, located at 146 White Street, tested positive for COVID-19.  Upon learning of this test result, the courthouse was immediately closed for comprehensive cleaning and sanitization in accordance with CDC guidelines

 Thereafter, a review of the business flow into the Danbury court over the last three days was conducted.  In light of the very low flow of business into the Danbury courthouse during that time period, a decision to keep the courthouse closed until further notice.

 As such, I have transferred all cases that would otherwise be handled in the Danbury courthouse to the Waterbury GA Courthouse at 400 Grand Street, effective Thursday, March 26, 2020.  This transfer of business will be in effect until further notice.

 

  1. Q & A re: Practice Book Rule Changes

 Civil Litigation:  Please provide clarity on deadlines contained in scheduling orders and case management orders.  If they are suspended, for how long?  It would be helpful that a specific time be assigned (i.e., 60 days), which obviously could be extended. 

 Answer:  All deadlines contained in Scheduling Agreements and Case Management Orders are hereby suspended until such time as Judicial Branch operations are fully restored.

 Family:  

 1. The Family Law Section presumes that the statutory language set forth in Conn.

Gen. Stat. 46b-56f is the applicable standard for "emergency ex parte order of temporary custody," identified as a Priority 1 Business Function. The Section

presumes that any withholding of parental access which causes physical danger or

psychological harm to the minor child falls under the language of the statute.

        The purpose of this inquiry is to assure practitioners that true emergency   circumstances related to the withholding of parental access may be addressed through the current resources provided by the Judicial Branch. This is a rapidly rising concern for parents and practitioners.

 

Answer:  The courts have received and acted upon, and will continue to receive and act

upon, as Priority #1 matters all applications for emergency orders of custody pursuant

CGS 46b-56f, including the scheduling of hearings in cases where ex parte relief is

granted. 

 

That includes applications alleging such harm based on withholding of parental access. 

The determination of whether the withholding of access in a given case creates "an

immediate and present risk of physical danger or psychological harm to the child," and if

so what relief should be granted, rests within the sound discretion of the judge reviewing

each particular application.

  

  1. 2. Order to Show Cause papers must be addressed in one of three ways: a) Order

to Show Cause dates must be assigned and delivered back to practitioners so that

service can be effectuated; b) Order to Show Cause papers must be permitted to be

served without an assigned date; c) service requirements applicable to family law

practitioners pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-86 and 52-50 must be modified on an

emergency basis to permit retroactivity to the date of filing with the court, including filing

via fax or US Postal mail for non e-file cases, and not service.

                    

The purpose of this proposal is to address the critical time period between now and the future date when the court expands business to matters other than Priority 1 Business Functions. Retroactivity pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 46b-86 can only be granted to the date of service of the motion as prescribed by Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-50. As the length of this crisis is yet unknown, the inability to obtain retroactivity would otherwise place a literally immeasurable burden on litigants.

 

Answer:  The clerks of all courts have been instructed to proceed by the first method

above, i.e. to assign hearing dates and deliver the papers back to the initiating party for

service.  That instruction was given, in part, to afford  parties the opportunity to preserve

claims for retroactivity where applicable.

 

 3. As soon as administratively possible, agreements filed with a Request for

Approval of Agreement form will be approved and ordered on the papers.

                   

This will ensure the smooth administration of justice, grant litigants the ability to settle their own disputes in the absence of judicial resources, and prevent extreme backlog for the Judicial Branch.

 

Answer:  We are aware of this issue and exploring ways to do so as soon as that

becomes possible without adding to the workload of clerks on duty while they are

required to focus on Priority #1 functions.

   

  1. 4. Orders of non-compliance and establishment of alimony and child support orders

must take priority when the court expands business to matters other than Priority 1

Business Functions.

             

The express purpose of this proposal is to address the critical issues of support during an unprecedented health and financial crisis. Without recourse to the courts in family matters,  those with financial resources are placed in an extraordinary position of power and safety, while the most disadvantaged members of society will suffer.

 

Answer:  We are sensitive to, and will be mindful of, these concerns.  However, given

the uncertainty of the future course of this public health crisis and its impact on court

personnel and operations, it is not possible to make commitments now about the work

that the courts will be in a position to do in the future or the order in which they will be

able to do it.  

 

  1. 5. Uniformity across all judicial districts on family matters would avoid forum

shopping to the extent possible, and alleviate dissention and dysfunction.

 

Answer:  We agree with the need for uniformity across districts and have issued a series

of system-wide communications to that end.  We will continue to do as new issues arise.

 

 Criminal: Practice Book 37-12 mandates that a defendant, arrested without a warrant and not released from custody, must have a judge make a finding of probable cause within 48 hours following his/her arrest.  Failure to do so mandates that the court release the defendant from custody.   Suspension of this rule could cause defendants to be held far longer than necessary, which the criminal bar contends is a very real concern.

 Answer:  Sec. 37-12. Defendant in Custody; Determination of Probable Cause

 The courts are continuing to maintain probable cause findings including for weekend arrests.  All judges have been asked to make themselves available to assist in these probable cause findings regardless of the date and time.  In the event that it is not possible to have a probable cause finding within 48 hours, the suspension of the rule would still permit the court to make a probable cause determination.  This determination should occur at the earliest date and time available under the circumstances.

 

Finally, we would appreciate an update on whether technology issues are being resolved so that courts can issue rulings.  We learned that some JDs are now sending out notices, which leads us to believe that progress is being made, which is greatly appreciated.  

 

Answer:  There is still no statewide solution on this because the release of any such decisions is necessarily connected to the Clerk's office ability to process such matters. We are still working on this but remain preoccupied with health and safety issues of employees which are mounting by the minute