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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Sullivan Doesn't Have to Testify

Decision May Lead to Impeachment

From the formation of our earliest constitution, the Fundamental Orders, until the very end of the 19th Century, the legislature had supreme power in Connecticut. Both the executive and the judicial were de facto subordinates to the General Assembly, although the flawed 1818 constitution technically had separated and equalized them. Only an 1897 court case finally banished that notion for good.

I couldn't blame Sens. Andrew McDonald and Michael Lawlor if they were a little nostalgic, right about now.
Former Chief Justice William J. Sullivan does not have to honor a subpoena to appear before a legislative hearing to answer questions about his decision to withhold release of a controversial ruling to benefit a colleague.

Such an appearance would have violated the constitutional separation of powers doctrine, a Superior Court judge ruled Monday. (Tuohy)

Yes, John Rowland was compelled by the Supreme Court to obey a legislative subpoena in 2004 (his resignation short-circuited that), but that was related to an impeachment investigation. This is not. Yet.
After the hearing, Rep. Michael Lawlor, co-chairman of the judiciary committee, was asked about the prospects of an impeachment inquiry. "It didn't seem like something we were considering yesterday," Lawlor said. "We have to talk to our colleagues about what is the right approach."

Sen. Andrew McDonald, Lawlor's co-chairman, added: "This decision seems to push the legislature toward something we wouldn't do otherwise. ... The whole investigation centers around Justice Sullivan's conduct and state of mind." (Tuohy)

It isn't a constitutional crisis yet, I don't think. But this would have been much better had Sullivan simply agreed to testify voluntarily, like other members of the judiciary had.

Source

Tuohy, Lynne. "Jurist Need Not Testify." Hartford Courant 27 June, 2006.

35 Comments:

Blogger KerryGuy said...

It has the potential to become a Constitutional crisis, and quickly. It all depends on Lawlor and McDonald's next move. If they push this, it escalates quickly and may have far reaching ramifications into the legislature's ability to issue subpoenas absent impeachment. Lisa Moody and Garfield could now refuse to appear and dare the GAE committee to subpoena them, then move to quash it. If it's a matter of separation of powers, then the Executive branch can fight this as well.
If the Judiciary committee backs off, then nothing happens and the crisis is averted. I personally think the legislature is going a bit overboard on these hearings. If this is the line in the sand that says they are going too far afield, then it will be a good thing.

6/27/2006 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

Amazing!

I agree with kerryguy!

6/27/2006 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger bluecoat said...

Many judges are saying 'not Stamford' and is the policy of always moving judges around necessary; isn't there something to be said for these guys and girls being part of the community instead of nomads...

and on the issue a t hand from Borden:Justice: Courts must regain public trust

6/27/2006 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger disgruntled_republican said...

kerryguy-

Well said!

6/27/2006 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Patricia Rice said...

Let's get to the bottom of this issue. What are Republican's afraid of? Chris Caruso will do the right thing.

6/27/2006 11:03:00 AM  
Blogger BRubenstein said...

the judiciary committee is a seperate and equal branch of government and should appeal the ruling otherwise no one will be forced to adhere to any subpoena from the legislative branch of government ..thus our 3 seperate but equal branches of government will not be equal anymore once the right of the Legislature to investigate has been done awy with.

6/27/2006 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

Well said, BRubenstein.

This whole matter stems from the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court trying to hide relevant information from the Judiciary Committee during the nomination for a new Chief Justice.

A Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was playing politics! That is insane!

They absolutely should investigate this matter. Obviously, Sullivan knows what he did was unethical, otherwise he wouldn't be hiding out.

6/27/2006 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger CTObserver said...

With three co-equal branches of government, how did Dicky Blumenthal pick which branch (legislative) he decided to represent?

6/27/2006 11:45:00 AM  
Blogger BRubenstein said...

Observer..he had a choice of representation..that choice was mitigated by the Judicial Council's investigation of Sullivan..since Blummie will represent the Council in the investigation against Sullivan he cannot represent Sullivan in an appeal, but must represent the Legislature.

6/27/2006 12:29:00 PM  
Blogger Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

Patricia Rice said... "
Chris Caruso will do the right thing.
"

Really?

He's turning over a new leaf you say?

6/27/2006 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger KerryGuy said...

If this gets pushed, the courts may decide to limit the ability of the legislature to investigate anything. The Constitution only grants them legislative and impeachment powers. Statutes provide a blanket ability to issue subpoenas in investigations. They don't go to the scope of such investigations, or to the subject matter permitted.
Specific statutes address judicial nominations, which could lead to the courts ruling that is the ONLY time the legislature can hold hearings invovling the judicial branch, absent impeachment proceedings. To infringe on the operations or decisions of another governmental branch is a serious Constitutional breach that must be viewed with strict scrutiny. Since the legislature obviously knows how to make specific laws permitting hearings into the courts, the failure to do so means the legislature never intended to convene such hearings. Therefore, they are not to be allowed. Such a decision and the implications that would flow from it would be huge.
The only chance for the Committee to successfully act would be to impeach Sullivan. The Constitution gives them sole jurisdiction over such a proceeding. But the grounds for the impeachment would have to be his delay on the decision (an accepted judicial practice), not his refusal to obey the subpoena. McDonald and Lawlor have to give this great thought, because the ramifications could be devastating to the activist legislature. It will be a fun summer.

6/27/2006 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger bluecoat said...

and let this be a lesson the the state legislature: stop confirming Yahoos and Taccos to the bench!!!

6/27/2006 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger bluecoat said...

and in the more thanks to Johnny Republicans and the ever vigilant state legislature there is:Girlfriend of man involved with Rowland scandal accused of trying to bribe witness
By:Ethan Fry, Journal Inquirer
06/23/2006
but now When Gov. M. Jodi Rell wants a Florida vacation, she doesn't have to mooch off wealthy friends in the Sunshine State the way her corrupt predecessor did, because as it says here:Rell lists Florida property on ethics disclosure form By:Don Michak, Journal Inquirer 06/26/2006

6/27/2006 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger Gio said...

This is all great....but what about Ned Lamont???

6/27/2006 01:12:00 PM  
Blogger bluecoat said...

this is about the state not the fedEraL stuuf at least for me so, that said Malloy also declined to specify how the plan would be funded but Malloy Plan Calls For 1,000 More Officers
June 27, 2006 By CHRISTOPHER KEATING, Capitol Bureau Chief
when he could just get the Troopers who were sitting at the rest stops on I-95 all day yesterday because there is a little construction going on and their contract demands it to do actual police work instead of featherbedding all day but just to make you happy Gio here's: Rivals Work To Win Over Unions Lieberman, Lamont Accuse Each Other Of GOP Leanings, While Wooing Labor June 27, 2006 By MARK PAZNIOKAS, Courant Staff Writer since it is about state labor..

6/27/2006 01:22:00 PM  
Blogger bluecoat said...

is another way to handle this to ask these questions during the confirmation of whoever Rell puts up???...the investigative committee is actually giving her great cover on this problem she once had in motion by going with Sullivan's guy - and charade - in the first place while starting to take the heat from Republicans...don't you think???

6/27/2006 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger KerryGuy said...

BC - Rell, who is always afraid of controversy, is never going to renominate Zarella. So the next nominee can be asked about it, but will most likely have no knowledge of it (unless it's Palmer, who looks more and more likely as time passes). And it was Palmer who originally confronted Sullivan wanting to know where the decision was. The most that will come out of the confirmation hearings will be a promise to never do it again.

Sullivan is the one they want. But for what purpose? Zarella's shot at the Chief position is gone. Taco can always step aside rather than be confirmed as a Senior Judge, so he can avoid the issue ad infinitum.

Lawlor, and to a lesser degree, McDonald, are two of the fairer committee chairs out there. This isn't a Caruso-style joust with windmills. I believe they will be very cautious in their approach here, and will think through the far reaching implications before they push this too far.

6/27/2006 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger AnonAndOnAndOn said...

bluecoat: You're right: A state focus IS refreshing...

Judiciary oughtta run their inquiry and mine those who agreed to show. I'm sure they've all got something to say. Tocco may skate on this one, unless the Judicial Review Council can chase him off the "retired active reserve" list. I wonder if anyone's filed a complaint???

MJR's next move here will be telling. She will be under lots of pressure on her appointment, and it will be interesting if she goes with Borden just 'cause the light is shining. Methinks Zarella's going to have to return the Rehnquist stripes he was sewing on his sleeves.

And don't you just LOVE Michak's story on Rell's cottage?? Granted, he's covered some dirty real-life corruption, but only the JI could make owning a vacation home sound bad by saying it was "listed on ethics disclosure." And without Donnie, Connecticut voters wouldn't know that "the the single-family house is equipped with air conditioning, a fireplace, and a screen-enclosed porch."

Has Mark Davis been dispatched for file footage yet?? Maybe he can find out if they have low-flow toilets. Inquiring minds have to know!!!

6/27/2006 02:00:00 PM  
Blogger KerryGuy said...

Anon - I think Tocco needs legislative confirmation on the change to senior judge status. So even if Judicial Review fails to take action (and when do they ever) he will end up getting off the bench rather than face the embarrassment of a Judiciary Committee appearance. And I don't think Rell chooses Borden. I think it's Palmer if it's any of the sitting justices. I fnot, it's a stretch to the lower courts. I'm not sure if he's been through judicial selection or not, but Bob Ward would be a pretty good conciliator on the bench.

6/27/2006 02:48:00 PM  
Blogger BRubenstein said...

Dear Anon...what color liquid does REll use in her Florida home for the toilets....if its red then we need to know if she is or isnt in fact a secret Socialist.If its Blue..she may be a secret Blue State person...

6/27/2006 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger BRubenstein said...

Kerryguy...Sullivan doesnt need legislative affirmative to change to senior status..he himself can elect it.

I dont think Rell would choose any one the sitting judges...she could go outside to Acedamia and get an outstanding law professor.

6/27/2006 03:07:00 PM  
Blogger A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

BR:

Or maybe someone from the criminal defense bar? ... ;-)

6/27/2006 03:09:00 PM  
Blogger AnonAndOnAndOn said...

BR: You're RIGHT! Just the job for Mark Davis, then!

KerryGuy: Good info. It's all starting to make sense... Especially Dick Palmer.

6/27/2006 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger Derby Conservative said...

I also found it facinating that Jodi and Lisa both also own Home Depot stock worth about $5k. What a piece of trash the JI is! Next thing you know, they'll have Michelle Jacklin on the op-ed staff.

6/27/2006 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Derby Conservative said...

B. Rube, I'm sure that Jodi's toilet water is crystal clear...just like these ethics filings.

6/27/2006 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger AnonAndOnAndOn said...

Jacklin at the JI: Idaknow... They actually WORK hard. All she did was walk through the LOB and have coffee with one or two usual suspects.

Phaneuf always outhustled and wrote circles around her, anyway.

6/27/2006 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger BRubenstein said...

Jacklin is way to conservative for me and she doesnt wear the red armband...or use the secret handshake that all of us secret leftist's use when we want to introduce ourselves.

6/27/2006 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger AnonAndOnAndOn said...

BR: I'd never peg her as conservative ideologically, but would certain call her timid.

Think about it... in other capital city newspapers, the political columnists have huge sway. Pols cringe, readers can't wait to read who's on the spit...

We really don't have any first-team political columnists in Conn... probably haven't since Charlie Morse put down his pen. I guess Chris Powell comes as close as any. Ken Dixon shows flashes now and then. I know he's a reporter, but he can give good column, too. Hladky is ossified. Laurence Cohen is too glib or offensive. Rennie's column has essentially been The Grudge Report since day one...

Where have you gone, Don Noel??

6/27/2006 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger BRubenstein said...

DON NOEL? lmao...we havent had a real good reporter..free of favor and ideology in along time

6/27/2006 04:57:00 PM  
Blogger Authentic Connecticut Republican said...

BRubenstein said... "or use the secret handshake "

I would be very surprised to learn you were a member of the craft.

6/27/2006 05:53:00 PM  
Blogger A Different Anonymous (No! Really!) said...

BR:

I'm gonna quibble: If you mean we haven't had a good columnist in a while, apart from those AnonAndOn mentioned, I'd agree.

Reporter, though, is different: Phaneuf of the JI and Haigh of the AP are very good indeed, especially if you mean "free of favor and ideology."

6/27/2006 05:57:00 PM  
Blogger AnonAndOnAndOn said...

ada(nr): I agree. Reporter-wise, those two are tops. Again, Dixon is good. So is Paul Hughes from Wtby paper.

I was lamenting lack of columnist "punch."

6/27/2006 06:03:00 PM  
Blogger BRubenstein said...

a diff anon..as you would expect..i personally like Don Michak..Phaneuf..and High as fine reporters..

6/27/2006 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger BRubenstein said...

ACR...i wish i was a member of " the craft"..alas..im a lawyer...and what do we know...

6/27/2006 06:05:00 PM  
Blogger Brassett said...

The next Chief Justice will be Barry Schaller, currently an Appellate Court Judge.

6/27/2006 07:11:00 PM  

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