We are into the second week of the Connecticut Supreme Court’s 2017-2018 year. Here’s a look at this week’s cases:
Monday, September 18th
The first case is Francini v. Goodspeed Airport, LLC, SC 19705, where the Supreme Court will consider whether the Appellate Court properly held that an easement by necessity for a landlocked parcel is not limited only to ingress and egress. The trial court had rejected the plaintiff’s claim that his property’s easement by necessity to access a public highway also included a right of way to access commercial utilities and the Appellate Court reversed.
The second case is State v. Urbanowki, SC 19678, where the Court will consider whether evidence that the defendant in a strangulation prosecution had previously attempted to choke another woman was harmless error.
Tuesday, September 19th
As part of its public education goals, each year the Connecticut Supreme Court holds an “On Circuit” program where it hears oral arguments at an area law school, college, or high school. This year, the venue for the “On Circuit” program will be the University of New Haven and two cases will be argued.
The first case is Brooks v. Powers, SC 19727, which addresses governmental immunity. The plaintiff is the estate of a woman whose body washed up on the shore. A report had been made to the local police department that she was near the ocean during a severe storm and in need of medical attention, but no one responded. The issue is whether the imminent harm, identifiable victim exception to discretionary act immunity applies. The trial court had concluded that it does, granting summary judgment. A divided panel of the Appellate Court reversed.
The second case, State v. Panek, 19772, is about the meaning of the “not in plain view” element of the video voyeurism statute and, specifically, whether it must be evaluated from the perspective of the defendant or the public at-large. The trial court concluded that the former was the correct test, and granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss because the alleged victims were in his immediate physical presence. The State appealed and the Appellate Court affirmed, agreeing with the trial court.
Wednesday, September 20th
The Court will hear three child protection cases. In In re Mariam E., SC 19913 and In re: Egypt E., SC 19914 and the Court will decide whether parental rights were properly terminated after the daughter, Mariam, was brought to the hospital by her parents who were unable to explain the cause of six recent fractures. A parental termination petition was also granted with respect to a second minor child, Egypt, based on the child being “similarly situated” to Mariam and based on the father’s refusal to admit that he caused the injuries to Mariam.
The third child protection case is In re: Henrry P. B.P., SC 19907, where the appellant is a young man who fled Honduras at the age of seventeen. The Probate Court denied a petition for special immigrant juvenile status. While the appeal was pending, Henrry turned eighteen rendering the appeal moot because he had attained the age of majority. Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), an organization founded by actress Angelina Jolie which provides representation to unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in their deportation proceedings, has filed an amicus brief in this case.
Thursday, September 21st
In Martinez v. City of New Haven, SC 19850, the Court will consider the imminent harm, identifiable victim exception to discretionary act immunity for the second time this term. The question here is whether the municipality should be liable where a teacher failed to prevent a public school student from being cut by scissors while attempting to pick them up off the ground.
In State v. Guerrera, SC 19785, the Court will consider whether prosecutors are presumed to have constructive knowledge of the contents of the State’s investigatory file and are required to disclose any exculpatory evidence under Brady v. Maryland, even if the file has not been reviewed. In this case, the Department of Correction, at the request of the Division of Criminal Justice, had recorded several conversations between inmates and visitors related to this case. However, those conversations were not transcribed or reviewed.
The week concludes with State v. James A. E., SC 19711, where the UConn Law School Criminal Clinic argues that the evidence was insufficient to convict the defendant of risk of injury to a minor where the defendant had an altercation, in front of his daughter, that involved him pointing a gun at a third party and threatening to kill him.