Saturday, December 09, 2006

If there were not Judicial Activists, would this now be in the news?:

There are so many reasons to abolish Judicial Immunity. Click Here for my videos and beef with the Connecticut Judiciary.

CONNECTICUT NEWS

Judge Plans Double Appeal

Ex-Chief Justice Not Going Quietly
December 9, 2006
By LYNNE TUOHY, Hartford Courant Staff Writer
Former Chief Justice William J. Sullivan will appeal both his 15-day suspension and the findings last month by the Judicial Review Council that he violated the code of ethics in secretly withholding release of a controversial ruling.

The appeal will prolong an episode that prompted an unprecedented crisis of confidence in the judiciary and created yet another uncomfortable chapter for Sullivan's colleagues on the high court.

The Judicial Review Council on Nov. 17 found Sullivan had compromised the integrity and independence of the judiciary when he blocked release of the decision on court access and the Freedom of Information Act to enhance Justice Peter T. Zarella's prospects of succeeding him as chief justice. The council suspended Sullivan, now a senior justice, for 15 days. Sullivan's appeal will automatically postpone that suspension until a ruling is issued.

Because the other justices of the court were embroiled in the Sullivan fiasco in one way or another, they presumably will disqualify themselves from considering his appeal.

Acting Chief Justice David M. Borden would then refer the matter to the Appellate Court, in a scenario that likely would mirror circumstances surrounding the appeal involving a subpoena served on Sullivan by the co-chairmen of the legislature's judiciary committee - Sen. Andrew McDonald and Rep. Michael Lawlor.

The justices disqualified themselves from that case as well, because it is rooted in the same conduct and controversy that led to Sullivan's sanctions. In addition, Appellate Court Chief Judge Joseph Flynn and Appellate Judge Barry Schaller disqualified themselves from hearing the subpoena case, and likely will do the same in the Sullivan appeal.

Judges do not have to state why they are disqualifying themselves from cases. However, Flynn is very close to Sullivan, who appointed him chief judge. Schaller, sources have said, has cleared background checks to be Rell's nominee to fill the next vacancy on the high court, and may have removed himself to avoid complications.

Sullivan's lawyers, in preliminary documents received by the Judicial Review Council Friday, claim the council had no jurisdiction to prosecute Sullivan in the first place. They argue, as they did during the disciplinary hearings, that holding up release of the ruling barring wholesale access to certain court dockets was an act of judicial discretion over which the council has no purview.

Sullivan resigned as chief justice April 15 and assumed senior justice status. The council determined that Sullivan blocked release of the ruling so it would not create problems for Zarella, his protégé, while Zarella's nomination to succeed him was pending.

Zarella had joined Sullivan in the 4-3 majority ruling that the Freedom of Information Act does not permit public access to criminal and motor vehicle dockets.

In the appeal, Sullivan's attorneys Edward Maum Sheehy and Robert J. Cooney also argue:

  • There was no clear and convincing evidence that Sullivan's conduct impugned the integrity and independence of the judiciary;

  • Ethics expert Geoffrey Hazard should not have been allowed to testify as a rebuttal witness against Sullivan;

  • The council violated Sullivan's due process rights by issuing the final judgment on Sullivan's ethics violations, after first finding sufficient evidence to warrant public hearings.

    Sheehy and Cooney made these same arguments during the various hearings on Sullivan's conduct, to no avail. The council voted in November that Sullivan violated two of the five ethics charges brought against him, and handed down thesuspension after brief public debate on the appropriate punishment.

    By the close of court Friday, there was no official statement from the state Supreme Court on how it would handle Sullivan's appeal.





    Contact Lynne Tuohy at ltuohy@courant.com.
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