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Showing posts with label MEMORANDUM OF DECISION. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MEMORANDUM OF DECISION. Show all posts

Thursday, April 2, 2015


During this past year, several family court litigants have talked during public hearings about the tragedy visited upon their families when the CT Judicial Branch published the memoranda of decision of their cases online.  The authority for publishing these memoranda of decision arises from Conn. Gen. Statute Section 51-215a - (Formerly Sec. 51-21): Publication of decisions of the Superior Court and the Appellate Court.  This statute states as follows:

"(a) The clerks of the Superior Court shall file with the Reporter of Judicial Decisions copies of memoranda of decisions in Superior Court cases. The reporter shall select therefrom for publication such decisions as he deems will be useful as precedents or will serve the public interest and shall prepare them for publication and index them in substantial conformity with the manner in which decisions of the Supreme Court are prepared and indexed. The decisions selected shall be published by the Commission on Official Legal Publications in the Connecticut Law Journal and in such bound volumes as the Reporter of Judicial Decisions deems necessary."

In other words, the Reporter of Judicial Decisions has been statutorily required to do the job of selecting memoranda of decision that he thinks will be "useful as precedents or will serve the public interest" and put them out there for publication.  In real terms, this means that private information regarding litigants' divorces has ended up out there on the internet available for all of the world to see and has resulted in considerable harm and damage to the families involved.  

Several family court litigants have talked about the damaging impact that the publication online of their court  decisions had on them.  For instance, in one situation, the memoranda of decision included the psychiatric diagnoses of the litigants' children, where they lived and what school they went to.  Any pedophile could have used that information to stalk the children, kidnap them, or cause some other kind of devastating harm to them.

It was not unusual for litigants to find private medical information such as psychiatric diagnoses, substance abuse problems, or chronic physical conditions ending up online in these memoranda of decision.  False accusations of domestic violence or sexual impropriety as well as financial wrongdoing also made there way into these memoranda of decision and ended up online.  Others talked about how they found themselves unable to obtain employment or were fired from a job because of the contents of the memoranda of decision.  

The worst of it is knowing that your friends and neighbors can simply go online and look up the decision in your case online and thus find out about the most intimate and private details of your life, or what is reported as having occurred in your life, when you know very well that nothing of the kind happened.  They could do it at any time and you would never know.  So the next time you go to a school event you might spend your time wondering -- do these people know about what has been said about me in my case?  

In my situation, knowing that the memorandum of decision was online was particularly difficult for me because the entire memoranda was fabricated out of false, misleading, and out of context information.  Most particularly, I objected to the fact that information that was purely hearsay ended up in the decision and included statements the judge made deliberately in order to smear my reputation permanently.  Why did the Reporter of Judicial Decisions choose my case?  There was nothing significant or precedential about it.

It wasn't long before many of us who were victims of this situation began to ask ourselves if there was some pattern to the publication of these decisions.  If you consider that at least 15,000 - 17,000 cases go to trial each year, how is it that our cases were particularly selected for publication?  Was there an intention to silence us?  It did not escape notice that many of the memoranda of decision chosen for publication were ones where the attorneys in the cases or the judges had a particular interest in silencing us.  

It is not beyond the realm of possibility that a judge or an attorney would drop by the office of the Reporter of Judicial Decisions and say informally, don't forget to publish that case!  Why not!  A lot worse has happened in our corrupt family courts!

Thus, it is interesting to see in the 2015 legislative session that the Judiciary Committee is considering Section 11 of proposed S.B. Bill 1033 An Act Concerning Court Operations which would eliminate this section (a) from the CT General Statutes and would prevent the CT Judicial Branch from publishing these memoranda of decision in the future.  

I would strongly recommend that everyone call their representatives and also encourage members of the Judiciary Committee to pass this bill.  We need to protect the privacy of CT Family Court victims and stop individual judges and attorneys from using these memoranda of decision to get back at people and take revenge and permanently ruin their lives.