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Showing posts with label AUDIORECORDINGS OF HEARINGS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label AUDIORECORDINGS OF HEARINGS. Show all posts

Monday, January 5, 2015


A few years ago, I was involved in an extended bit of litigation before Judge Herbert Barall, and he made the comment in open court stating, "I am God."  Being a fairly scrupulous litigant, I then purchased the transcript of that hearing in the hope that I could get that interesting remark memorialized on paper.  However, when I received a copy of the transcript it had been excised from the record of the hearing. 
A similar situation occurred when I was in a hearing with Judge Constance Epstein who very memorably presided over my divorce and denied me some of my most basic constitutional rights. 
One of my attorneys lied in order to wiggle his way out of representing me because I had run out of the money necessary to pay his fee and Judge Epstein gave him free rein to do so.  Of course, as we all know, without any money you are highly unlikely to be able to hire another attorney, so I asked her, "How am I going to hire another attorney.  I don't have any more money."  Judge Epstein responded, "Go get it where you got it before." 
Again, I purchased the transcript in order to capture that lovely piece of advice, but again, it has been excised from the record of the hearing.  This is why litigants such as myself are beginning to put considerable pressure on the CT Judicial Branch to provide us, upon request, with copies of the audiorecordings of the legal proceedings in which we take part. 
If Judges are going to make outrageous remarks, if they are going to berate us, harass and threaten us, or otherwise humiliate or demean us, we want that on the record so these judges can be held to account, and we would like access to that record. 
Naturally, we are facing considerable opposition in this regard.  Recently, the "Connecticut Law Tribune" reported, or rather publically mocked (which makes sense since it is the tool of the CT Bar Association) Connecticut citizen, Adam McNiece, who is suing the Connecticut Judicial Branch for refusing to provide him with audiorecordings which he needs in order to obtain equal access to legal proceedings based upon his disability of migraine headaches. 
At this point, I am not sure if this litigation is justified on either side, and I will tell you why. There are three ways in which audiorecordings become important.  They are important as the official record of what took place in court.  The parties in the case, as well as judges when they make their decisions, can cite this official record, the audiorecordings, in making an argument in support of their positions. 
Then there are non-official audiorecordings of legal proceedings which do not make up the official record.  These can be produced by members of the media in support of their note taking, and they can also be produced, based upon 1-10b of the CT Practice Book 2015, with advanced permission by a judge, by members of the public, also for note taking purposes. 
I am assuming that this section of the Practice Book allows any of the parties to ask permission also to make his or her own audiorecordings, but again those would be for note taking purposes only and could not be quoted as part of the official record. 
My question is, when Mr. McNiece submitted his request for the audiorecordings of the legal proceedings in his case, was he asking for the official record or was he asking for the opportunity to make his own audiorecordings?  My best guess is that like many Judicial Branch litigants, Mr. McNiece was not informed of the fact that he could ask the judge for the opportunity to make his own unofficial audiorecordings of the proceedings according to the Practice Book rules. 
Plus, because the court officials who handle the requests for ADA modifications are so hostile to the implementation of the ADA and won't provide any more information than they have to, in violation of the obligation to provide an interactive process, it is highly unlikely that they informed Mr. McNiece that this was an option. 
You would think they would want to be as cooperative as possible, simply to avoid the kind of litigation that Mr. Adam McNiece has now engaged the CT Judicial Branch in, but this is not the case.  The CT Judicial Branch is so adamantly opposed to the implementation of the ADA, that it will literally invite litigation and obstruct the ADA whenever possible, even when there are very simple solutions to the issues that litigants with disabilities approach them with.  
Of course, I see that the CT Judicial Branch has this negative attitude towards the ADA, and in the minds of court officials this might justify inviting litigation against the Judicial Branch.  On the other hand, what this means in real terms is that we, the Connecticut taxpayers, are forced to pay for their intransigence by financially supporting all of the litigation! 
Now, the reason, ostensibly, that court officials are saying litigants shouldn't have access to the audiorecordings of legal proceedings is because we might cut and paste them or in some way alter them to bring embarrassment down upon the Connecticut Judicial Branch and its employees.  But the reality is that the only folks that have done this so far are the Connecticut Judicial Branch's employees themselves.  So what this pretty much adds up to is the kettle calling the shiny pot black contrary to the evidence. 
The Connecticut Judicial Branch wants to reserve the right to alter the record as it pleases, but it will be darned if litigants or members of the public do the same thing. 
Of course, I am not clear that the public has ever done such a thing, whereas there is clear evidence that employees of the Connecticut Judicial Branch have indeed altered the official record somewhere along the way as the contents of the audiorecordings have been translated into transcripts. 
The bottom line is that this website exists, as does many others, because people such as me have been denied our constitutional rights in court. We have seen court procedures subverted, witnesses improperly barred from coming to court to provide their testimony and seen evidence used against us that was created by fraud.  We have seen GALs, attorneys, and judges conspire against us, and as a consequence we believe the system to be completely corrupt. 
The only way to combat that corruption is to make sure that the courts throughout the State of Connecticut are open and transparent.  The only way you can do that is to make audiorecordings fully available to citizens of the State of Connecticut who request them.  In fact, most of us are convinced that it will not just require open access to audiorecordings--the time is going to come when videocameras must become omnipresent in all courtrooms. 
Members of the audiorecording subcommittee expressed concern about such access exposing vulnerable populations to scrutiny, for example, juveniles and victims of sexual crimes.  In those cases, I can see that the Court might wish to reserve the option to restrict audiorecordings of such proceedings to the parties in the case, or to individual members of the media who agree to restrict their use of such recordings to making sure their notes are accurate.  Nonetheless, we all know anyway that in the majority of cases most of the people requesting audiorecordings are going to be the parties in the action.  Most court actions just aren't that interesting except to the people involved in them. 
Other than that, the only people who have objected to providing those audiorecordings are court reporters who have ulterior motives since they currently charge litigants thousands and thousands of dollars for transcripts of those recordings.  So what matters more?  The greed of court reporters or the citizens of the State of Connecticut who pay their salaries and still have to pay extra for court transcripts. 
In contrast, audiorecordings shouldn't cost more than the cost of the disk which is what--five dollars or so? 
The reason we have such corruption in the courts throughout the State of Connecticut is because there is so little accountability.  Audiorecordings provide a considerable amount of that accountability.  For anyone in the State of Connecticut who is concerned about justice, who might conceivably one day end up being the focus of a legal proceeding, your access to these audiorecordings is essential to preserving your legal and constitutional rights.  Media members of the subcommittee on audiorecordings expressed their view that these audiorecordings are inherently the property of the general public.  I absolutely agree to that sentiment and so should anyone who is concerned about fairness and justice in courts throughout the State of Connecticut. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015


For those of you interested in the question of the access to audiorecordings of legal proceedings at the CT Judicial Branch, the following is a group of interesting articles on the subject:

Commentary on Audiorecordings by "Anonymous"!
Editorial Supporting the Public's Access to Audiorecordings

Part II of a Research Report on the Issue of Audiorecordings

Part I of a Research Report on the Issue of Audiorecordings

Review of the CT Judicial Branch Audiorecording Subcommittee Report


By Elizabeth A. Richter


As I previously mentioned, I had been speaking by email to Attorney Maureen Finn, the spokesperson for the CT Judicial Branch in regard to the ADA, attempting to find out how a person with a disability could obtain the reasonable modification of audiorecordings for his or her disability.  I had asked, "Would there ever be a reasonable basis for turning down such a request?"  On September 9, 2014, her response had been, "I prefer not to speculate about possibilities."

Of course, this is not so much about "possibilities" so much as it is a question of what I can say as an ADA advocate to a person with a disability who is trying to establish what reasonable modifications he or she is entitled to.  Simply put, I would like to be able to say with some measure of clarity that "yes" audiorecordings are available or "no" they are not!

Naturally, this was all very discouraging to me and so I shut down for a few days and spent some time on researching the subject of audiorecordings on the internet.  I am the kind of person who has been trained to advocate and to ask questions, so no matter what barriers I face, I am likely to return with further questions as needed.  However, what about some of the others who are members of this vulnerable population of individuals with disabilities.  Many of these folks do not have the ability to deal with the kind of obstruction that the Judicial Branch gets up to, particularly the use of bureaucratic double talk which prevents people from figuring out what their rights are.

After gathering together my emotional resources, on September 15, 2014, I sent out another email to Attorney Maureen Finn where I stated, "I think it is reasonable to request information from the Judicial Branch regarding what criteria an individual would have to meet in regard to a disability in order to qualify for the reasonable modification of the use of audiorecordings."

I further stated, "Without specific standards from the CT Judicial Branch regarding what would be a legitimate basis for a request for audiorecordings and what would not be a legitimate basis...,a litigant with a disability is really placed in a the very difficult position of guessing or being forced him or herself to speculate regarding the possibilities since you refuse to provide specific guidelines."

I then ended with the request, "Could you please provide me with a clear and understandable response to my question."

In response, one week later on September 22, 2014, Attorney Maureen Finn got back to me with the statement, "As I said before, I do not want to speculate as to possible outcomes because each person and situation is different.  As you know, there is a specific process in place for ADA requests."

Just to catch you up on where we are time wise, it is now one month since my original inquiry!

The very next day, on September 23, 2014, I again sent an email to Attorney Finn asking the following question, "Let me put this another way, why aren't audio recordings included on the list of auxiliary aids and services provided by the CT Judicial Branch listed on the website.  See link."

On September 26, 2014, Attorney Finn responded by saying,  "The list of auxiliary aids and services is not a comprehensive one...As Technologies change and advance, new options may become possible."  And it is true, above the list of auxiliary aids and services provided there is the statement, "These are some of the services/aids the Judicial Branch offers."  The word "some" appears to indicate that there are more.

On October 1, 2014, I then sent an email to Attorney Maureen Finn asking the following question, "So if the list of auxiliary aids and services were comprehensive it would include audiorecordings on it.  Is that what you are stating?"

I never received a response to that question, with either a yes or no, or any of Attorney Finn's favorite type answers such as, "I don't care to speculate."

I also asked Attorney Finn another vital question.  Given that there are Connecticut Practice Book policies in place under Chapter 1-10a and 1-10b for the public to request the right to make audiorecordings from the judge, would it then be correct for a litigant with a disability to go through a judge to obtain his or her reasonable modification, since the administration, as represented by Attorney Finn, was refusing to answer my questions.  However, I noted for Attorney Finn, there could be a problem in this situation because were a judge to rule improperly in response to such a request for reasonable modification, under the ADA that judge would be liable for damages and would lose his or her judicial immunity.  "What would she suggest?", I asked. 

In response, Attorney Finn stated, "As to your new question, I cannot advise you as to the best course of action."

So in total, it took a little over five weeks to go absolutely nowhere.  If I had been having this correspondence with a serious need to obtain audiorecording as a reasonable modification for an upcoming hearing, this back and forth conversation full of obstruction and obscure responses would have been incredibly stressful.  In my own case, I had conversations like this for three years and still didn't get anywhere while parallel legal proceedings were continuing on in my case.  This was incredibly difficult for me as it would be for any individual with a disability.


The bottom line of this study is it showed quite clearly that the Connecticut Judicial Branch has no idea how to answer a straightforward question with a straightforward answer.

Throughout this communication with the CT Judicial Branch in regard to audiorecordings, Attorney Maureen Finn in her own person, and on behalf of all the others who were listed as receiving copies of our correspondence, was deliberately obstructive and obscure when I tried to get answers to questions in regard to the reasonable modification of audiorecordings, which it is my understanding the Branch is obligated to provide.

The Connecticut Judicial Branch is simply not in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 or the Amendments Act to the ADA of 2008. Specifically, it is not in compliance with providing equally effective communication with people who have disabilities or those advocating for those who have disabilities.

Under Title II of the ADA, the Connecticut Judicial Branch is required to take steps to ensure that their communications with people with disabilities are as effective as communications with others. Title II of the ADA requires government entities, such as the Connecticut Judicial Branch, to make appropriate auxiliary aids and services available to ensure effective communication.  In other words, the Connecticut Judicial Branch, should, upon request, provide appropriate aids and services leading to effective communication for qualified individuals with disabilities and their advocates so they can participate equally in The Connecticut Judicial Branch's programs, services, and activities.

In their report on audiorecordings dated 2009, the Subcommittee on Audio Recording of Court Proceedings acknowledged that audiorecordings are the property of the citizens of Connecticut, and I would further note the important role audiorecordings could play in assisting persons with disabilities when it comes to obtaining access to legal proceedings.  Under those circumstances, the Connecticut Judicial Branch has no business denying people with disabilities access to these audiorecordings or obscuring information on whether such audiorecordings are available.

Saturday, January 3, 2015


By Elizabeth A. Richter


As a citizen, I was interested in seeing whether there had been any improvements in the CT Judicial Branch response to inquiries in regard to the ADA since I first began to approach the Branch about the ADA in 2006.  After all, in January 2014, I received a letter from Attorney John Hughes stating he intended to conduct an investigation into CT Judicial Branch compliance with the ADA.  Since several news outlets reported on this investigation, you might imagine this would make the Branch more eager to demonstrate their compliance.

With this in mind, on August 21, 2014 I approached the CT Judicial Branch with a request  for information about the option of obtaining audiorecordings as a reasonable accommodation for a person with a disability.  This request showed a certain amount of prescience, because on October 14, 2014,  a Connecticut citizen, Adam McNiece,  filed a lawsuit complaining that the CT Judicial Branch denied him audiorecordings which he required as a reasonable accommodation for his disability. See link:

I was making the inquiry as an advocate, not as a person with a disability.  However, had I been a person with a disability such as Adam McNiece, the process of requesting reasonable accommodation would have been incredibly frustrating.  First, I couldn't obtain a timely response to my inquiry, so if I'd been asking according to the standard timeframe, i.e. two weeks prior to the hearing, I would not have been able to obtain the accommodation on time.  Second, for the life of me, I couldn't get a clear information from the CT Judicial Branch spokespeople with whom I came into contact in response to my questions.  This latter is a complete violation of the federal ADA mandate to provide effective communication with people who have disabilities, and also the mandate to provide full and relevant responses to inquiries. 


On August 21, 2014, I wrote to Sandra Lugo-Gines, the staff member at the CT Judicial Branch generally considered in charge of all ADA inquiries.  My question:  "Will the Connecticut Judicial Branch provide audiorecordings of Legal Proceedings for litigants who have disabilities"

After sending that email, I waited for a full ten days and did not receive a single response from Ms. Sandra Lugo-Gines.  This is an unacceptably long time to wait for a response and shows how rude the CT Judicial Branch is in response to inquiries about the ADA.

On August 31, 2014, I then sent an email to other CT Judicial Branch employees, attorneys who have previously responded to my ADA questions and addressed the same inquiry to them.  The employees I sent the email to were as follows:  Heather Collins, Maureen Finn, Martin Libbin, and Viviana Livesay.  In my email, I provided a copy of the earlier August 21, 2014 email I'd sent  to Sandra Lugo-Gines and asked them to answer the question:  "What is the Connecticut Judicial Branch policy in regard to audiorecordings as a modification for a person with a disability under the ADA?"

Two days later, on September 2, 2014, I received a response from Attorney Maureen Finn stating as follows:

"There is no specific policy in regard to audio recordings.  As with any other aid or service, each request for accommodation is reviewed individually."

So, is that a "yes" or a "no"?  I wasn't sure.  In fact, Unbeknownst to me, right at that very time that I proposed that question, Mr. Adam McNiece, who had his doctor confirm the fact that he had a disability, had asked for just that accommodation of audiorecordings and had been turned down. 

To get an additional confirmation what Attorney Finn had said, I sent out the following question in response:
"I am assuming that anything listed on the CT Judicial Branch [website] as an aid or auxillary [service] would be automatically granted upon request [to a person with a disability].  Is that a correct?"
I also asked, "When you say, each case is reviewed individually, do you have a protocol for such a review?

And I asked, "What safeguards do you have in place to ensure that reasonable modifications are provided in a consistent manner?"

In response, the next day, on September 3, 2014, Attorney Finn sent me the following statement, "The items you request in the below email are not covered by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  The FOIA does not require public officials to answer questions regarding the specific laws that are relied upon when evaluating ADA requests.  The FOIA only provides a right to attend public meetings within the meaning of the FOIA."

I didn't ask for specific laws, I asked for "a protocol" and for "safeguards".  So what Attorney Finn did was simply reinterpret my request so that she could then deny it.  Also, when she states that the FOIA only "provides a right to attend public meetings" she forgets all the CT Judicial Branch internal reports and training materials that she has previously handed over to me personally in response to my FOIA requests.  That goes well beyond the opportunity to attend public meetings!  So, essentially, in her response, Attorney Finn is playing around with words, redefining my questions in a way I did not intend, if not outright lying.

Then Attorney Finn continues on to say, "I can advise you that we do not review requests for accommodation in an automated fashion.  All are reviewed on an individual basis."

In other words, no person with a disability can be guaranteed that he or she will have access to the aids and auxillary services that the CT Judicial Branch has available even if they are listed as available on its website.  And while it sounds nice that each person with a disability will be considered on an individual basis, the fact that such individuals cannot be guaranteed even a minimal level of  reasonable modifications has to be terribly anxiety provoking.  It places people with disabilities in a permanent posture of supplication, which is actually rather humiliating and degrading.

Later that afternoon, on September 3, 2014, I responded to Attorney Finn by saying, I don't get the FOIA reference, but  would the following statement reflect the CT Judicial Branch's position on audiorecordings.  See the following which I wrote:

"The CT Judicial Branch reviews request for reasonable modifications on an individual basis.  Audiorecordings are one of the reasonable modifications which are an option for litigants and jurors with disabilities and the Branch will consider whether the accommodation of audiorecordings makes sense for a litigant with a disability on a case by case basis."

In response, on September 4, 2014 Attorney Finn stated, "Again, there is no separate policy in regard to audiorecordings.  If someone requests audiorecordings as an accommodation, that request will be reviewed in the same manner as any other ADA request."

Of course, this is not a "yes" or "no"!  Also, we are well aware, that even as Attorney Finn was stating that the CT Judicial Branch would review a request for audiorecordings as an accommodation "in the same manner as any other ADA request" the Judicial Branch was turning down Adam McNiece's fully documented request for that very same accommodation!"
Given what McNiece was going through, my next question sent an hour later has particular relevance.  I asked Attorney Finn the following, "Would there ever be a reasonable basis for turning down such a request to a qualified individual with a disability?  If so what would that be?"
So there was a pause in the conversation.

September 5, 2014 goes by.

September 6, 2014 goes by.

September 7, 2014 goes by.

September 8, 2014 goes by.

Then on September 9, 2014, at 4:44p.m., I received the following answer from Attorney Finn:

"I prefer not to speculate about possibilities.  I don't think it is productive and it can create confusion."

As if I wasn't already totally confused already!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


On November 19, 2014, "The CT Law Tribune" reported that Adam McNiece of East Lyme, CT was suing the CT Judicial Branch because it denied him the Audiorecordings he requested under the ADA to accommodate his disability of migraine headaches. 

What is interesting about this article is the way it makes fun of Adam McNiece, and mocks and ridicules him for making such a request, as if the fact that he has a disability indicates that he is some kind of wacko who is not worthy of being treated with decency. 

More than anything else, the tone of the Tribune's article says so much about the disrespect that the legal profession has for citizens as a whole, and for those who have disabilities in particular.  Since when is it such a joke that a person has a disability and needs to request a reasonable modification in order to accommodate that disability? 

I also found the general characterization of a Connecticut citizen, Adam McNiece, pretty offensive.  Tell me, is it fair for the Tribune to present a self represented person as a clown simply by virtue of the fact that he or she is self represented.  Really, what is so funny about that? 

The "CT Law Tribune" describes Adam McNiece as being a person with "a reputation for being litigious".  Based on that description, I thought I would find tons and tons of cases listed under Adam McNiece's name.  In fact, this is not the true.  There is one case in 2013 against the Town of Waterford, another lawsuit against the Attorney Firm representing the Town of Waterford, and also this last lawsuit in regard to the CT Judicial Branch and the ADA, the latter two from 2014.  What this essentially adds up to is a single lawsuit with a lot of branches, all starting with an incident where a citizen's civil rights were violated.

I know many people in family court who have just the same amount of lawsuits--one the initial divorce complaint, perhaps an appeal or two on that divorce action, then foreclosures that came upon them as the result of their divorce, plus collection actions against them from former attorneys who represented them.  Does that make them "litigious" as well? 

If you have lived say 40 or 50 years, and you only have a few lawsuits pending from one or two of those years, that can hardly be called litigious!  Except, of course, if you are the "CT Law Tribune" and you like to trash citizens who are clearly defending their civil rights, but have little money to do so and have to represent themselves. 

Mr. McNiece's lawsuit appears legitimate to me.  I would also be pretty upset if the Town of Waterford conducted an illegal search of my home, and I wouldn't be surprised if that is exactly what happened in this case.  I would agree that Adam McNiece has listed on his lawsuits an inordinate number of defendants, but that is what many newcomers to the legal field tend to do.  It is not an indication of eccentricity or wacko-ness, but simply an example of the kind of behavior that is standard among many self represented parties who are new to the court system.  I'm not sure if that is worth ridiculing a man for.  If you did, you'd have to pretty much ridicule the vast majority of self represented parties, which I suppose most attorneys actually do. 

Interesting, isn't it, how the legal field fosters an attitude of contempt and condescension towards average people. 

In regard to Adam McNiece's request for reasonable modifications, that request should have received an immediate response, and one that is in the affirmative.  Instead, what happened is that Mr. McNiece's request was passed on from one court official to another until eventually a court planner, Ms. Heather Collins, sent him a list of six questions for his doctor to respond to before the court would consider his request.  Mr. McNiece then provided that information from his doctor, and still they turned down him down!

This kind of extensive inquiry into the nature of Adam McNiece's disability is a direct violation of the ADAAA of 2008,  a federal law which was specifically designed to prevent mini-trials into the nature of an individual's disability.  According to the ADAAA the appropriate focus of the public entity under Title II should be on meeting the needs of the person requesting the accommodation, not on demanding that such an individual prove that he has a disability. 

In fact, recent court decisions indicate that it is sufficient for the individual to state that he has a disability.  And even further, recent ADA law indicates that he should not even be required to provide a diagnosis. 

The Connecticut Judicial Branch regularly demands that litigants such as Adam McNiece provide extensive documentation regarding their disabilities, but such demands are blatantly illegal and intrusive.  Thus, the focus of the "CT Law Tribune" article should have been not how funny and laughable it is that a person with a disability requests an accommodation, the focus should have been on why the CT Judicial Branch chose to flout Federal ADAAA law. 

Another interesting point the Tribune article makes is that the Attorney General is defending the CT Judicial Branch in this case.  Why is the Attorney General who is supposed to be representing the best interests of the citizens of the State of Connecticut, particularly its vulnerable citizens such as the disabled, defending the illegal actions of the CT Judicial Branch in violating Federal ADA law? 

Altogether, what we have are a series of examples of disgraceful behavior within the legal profession.  1)  the CT Judicial Branch violating federal ADA law; 2) the Attorney General attacking disabled  citizens it should be protecting; and 3) the "CT Law Tribune", the mouthpiece of the Connecticut Bar Association ridiculing and making fun of an individual with a disability.  Under these circumstances, it is no wonder that the legal profession generates such a widespread lack of respect.

In 2009 , the CT Judicial Branch established a subcommittee which conducted an extensive examination of the role of audiorecordings during judicial proceedings.  In the report of this subcommittee two reporters who were members of the subcommittee--Mr. Thomas B. Scheffey of the "CT Law Tribune" (ironically) and also Mr. Patrick Sanders of the Associated Press--expressed their view that "what occurs in Connecticut's courtrooms belongs to the people of Connecticut, and therefore recordings made of those proceedings, should be available to the public in the [same] way that official paper transcripts are available."

In regard to personal recordings, Mr. Patrick Sanders further argues that there should be a "presumption of openness".  He continues on to state that an open judiciary is of overriding importance in the courts in the State of Connecticut, and he argues, "I disagree with the court reporters' opinion that their members should have exclusive rights to record court proceedings for sale and distribution for their personal gain.  Courts are a public domain and not a monopoly."  His associate Mr. Thomas B. Scheffey pointed out that tellingly, the U.S. Supreme court has made audiotapes of oral arguments available going back to the 1950s, and that there is even a CD of its "Greatest Hits" available on

As the Judicial - Media Committee determined (of which the above mentioned subcommittee was a part), not only is the concept that what takes place in courtrooms throughout Connecticut the property of the public a wonderful aspirational statement, legally, the CT Judicial Branch's audio recordings of legal proceedings are, in fact, the property of the citizens of the State of Connecticut.  The Connecticut Judicial Branch is merely the caretaker of these audiorecordings on behalf of those citizens.  Therefore, Adam McNiece's request for access to those audiorecordings is essentially a request for property that is his by right, and the Connecticut Judicial Branch's refusal to hand over those audiorecordings is a violation of that right.

What is interesting is that, when both sides talk about limitations to accessing these audiorecordings, both accuse each other of potential wrongdoing in similar ways.  It is a standard for self represented parties to accuse the Connecticut Judicial Branch of tampering with audiorecordings so as to eliminate any record of sections of the legal proceedings that Judges and their cohorts think might interfere with their rigged verdicts.  Likewise, Judges and attorneys in their statements for the subcommittee expressed concern that members of the public would make bootleg audiorecordings and alter them in order to challenge the official record of the legal proceedings.

Clearly, there is a great deal of tension and distrust between these two groups.  In particular, the "Connecticut Law Tribune's" recent hostile targeting of Adam McNiece provides a very clear example of this disgruntlement from the side of the legal profession.  The bottom line, however, is that the Connecticut Judiciary, Judges, and attorneys who practice the law are supposed to be there to serve the public, and the only way to do this is through openness and transparency. 

As long as the Connecticut Judicial Branch continues to collude in obstructing this openness and transparency, people will proceed on an ongoing basis to engage in lawsuits such as the one that Adam McNiece filed.  The "Connecticut Law Tribune" can go ahead and mock all it wants, but that's not going to stop them.


*As a final note, the "CT Law Tribune" journalist, 


Saturday, May 18, 2013


The next one is Molly Doe No. 1.

               (Pause in the proceedings.)

               CHIEF JUSTICE ROGERS:  Good morning.

               MS. MOLLY DOE NO. 1:  Good morning, Justices.  Thank you for allowing all of us to have this opportunity to address particular issues that we feel are most pressing.  This morning I’d like to discuss a review of the automatic appellate stay that is addressed in the Connecticut Practice Book.

               Connecticut Practice Book Rule 61-11 states that:  Except where otherwise provided by statute or other law, proceedings to enforce or carry out the judgment or order shall be automatically stayed until the time to take an appeal has expired.  If an appeal is filed, such proceedings shall be stayed until the final determination of the cause.

               And the Practice Book Rule 61-14 states:  The sole remedy of any party desiring the Court to review an order concerning a stay of execution shall be a motion for review under Section 66-6.  Execution of an order of the Court terminating a stay of execution shall be stayed for 10 days from the issuance of notice of the order and if a motion for review is filed within that period, the order shall be stayed pending decision of the motion, unless the Court having appellate jurisdiction rules otherwise.

               In practice, one family law judge in Stamford, Connecticut, is routinely ordering that if a party files an appeal of any issue, the 61-11 stay is hereby lifted prospectively.  That same family judge and at least one family -- another judge in Middletown is also continuing with proceedings where the stay had been lifted, but a motion for review is pending under 61-14.

               These judges do not believe that 61-14 applies in divorce proceedings which -- and in the Connecticut Practice Book still maintains that divorce proceedings are civil proceedings.  For an example, in a recent Stamford divorce case, a family law judge awarded an AMC a large sum of money without hearing evidence as to the financial circumstances of the parties.  The order was followed by the statement that should that party appeal, the automatic stay is hereby lifted.

               In another case, that same judge continued with proceedings where one party appealed her finding that the spouse was not in contempt for failing to produce a single, signed tax return for himself or for any of the multiple trusts of which he is a beneficiary -- of which he was an admitted beneficiary.

               The aggrieved party filed a motion for an appeal.  The judge lifted the stay.  The aggrieved party then filed a motion for review in following the Connecticut Practice Book rules.  The judge ignored the fact that the motion for review was filed and sent the case to trial. 

               Requested suggestions that -- the Practice Book Rule 61-11 should be amended to state that no judge may prospectively lift the automatic stay and Practice Book Rule 61-14 should be amended to clearly state that a motion for review suspends the lifting of a stay under 61-11 in all proceedings, including those involving divorce.  If this is already obvious, then family law judges should be trained in these Practice Book rules.

               Another issue I’d like to discuss is a litigant’s ability to listen to his or her audio tapes of her -- of proceedings.  The current procedure states that if any party or other individual challenges the accuracy of a transcript produced from an audio recording, arrangements may be made with the official court reporter for that person to listen to the audio recording and compare its contents with the transcript. 

               The official court reporter or a designee shall be present at all times that the audio recording is being played to the requesting person and such playing shall be at a time of mutual convenience to the person in the court reporter’s office.  The source of that document is the judicial branch audio access policy memo dated January 8, 2009.

               In practice, in --

               CHIEF JUSTICE ROGERS:  You can finish your sentence.

               MS. MOLLY DOE NO. 1:  Okay.  In all but one judicial district, litigants are permitted to listen to audio tapes of their proceedings.  Inexplicably, a different rule is followed in the Stamford family court.  The court reporter’s office refuses all requests to listen to audio tapes.  In order to hear the tape, the litigant must file a motion with the family law judge and hope for a favorable ruling.

               CHIEF JUSTICE ROGERS:  All right, Ms. Doe,

let’s --

               MS. MOLLY DOE NO. 1:  Okay.

               CHIEF JUSTICE ROGERS:  All right.  Thank you very much.   We’re going to take a very brief recess.

               MS. MOLLY DOE NO. 1:  Thank you. 

               (The Court stands in recess.)