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Showing posts with label PROPOSED LEGISLATION. Show all posts
Showing posts with label PROPOSED LEGISLATION. Show all posts

Thursday, January 30, 2020

SUPPORT THE CHILD SAFETY FIRST ACT!

TODAY

EMAIL AND CALL THE CONNECTICUT JUDICIARY COMMITTEE MEMBERS 

TO SUPPORT 
THE CHILD SAFETY FIRST BILL


58,000 Children a Year are Awarded Into Custody with An Abusive Parent

Are you a mom or know a mom with children in the middle of a divorce or separation in family court who is fighting for custody of their children to keep them safe and protect them from abuse?

Let our Connecticut Judiciary Committee members know (EMAILS AND PHONE NUMBERS below) you want them to support the introduction of Senator Alex Bergstein’s (Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan) Child Safety First bill this legislative session. Please use "Support the Child Safety First Bill" in your Subject Line.


Dear Representative …………….,

Why Do We Need the Child Safety First Bill in Connecticut?
DV and abuse exists across our state; DV and abuse pose an unacceptable and disproportionate threat to the health, safety and wellbeing of women and children; DV and abuse has been under-reported and under-recognized in our family court system; “high conflict” divorce cases often involve DV or abuse; the State of Connecticut has a duty to ensure the safety of all its citizens, especially children; House Congressional Resolution 72  encourages states to prioritize DV and abuse as the first factor considered in determining the “best interests of the child” in custody cases.
  • It is often legitimate for the partner of an abusive parent to try to protect the children from exposure to abuse, or to try to secure his or her own safety from the abusive partner by limiting that partner's contact with the children. Court appointed lawyers and psychologists do not have adequate DV training and are not able to distinguish appropriately protective behavior.  
  • The abuser blames the victim and claims parental alienation, that she was turning the children against him by alienating the children with false claims he was abusing them.  The court does not understand and/or acknowledge that the children are resisting being with their emotionally abusive parent who scares them. 
  • According to the American Psychological Association, abusive fathers file for sole custody more often than fathers who have no history of DV. Since 99 percent of DV victims also face some form of financial abuse, abusers tend to have more money and thus more access to legal resources than the women fleeing their abuse. That gives them an advantage in the courts that makes them just as likely, or even more likely, to gain custody.
Call Senate Dems: (860) 240-8600, Senate Republicans (860) 240-8800, House Democrats (860) 240-8500, and House Republicans (860) 240-8700.  OR EMAIL:

Please use "Support the Child Safety First Bill" in your Subject Line.

THE  CHILD SAFETY FIRST BILL
AUTHORED BY SENATOR ALEX BERGSTEIN

  1. The statutory definition of “domestic violence and abuse” is revised to include a history or pattern of coercive, controlling behavior including, but not limited to, physical violence, sexual assault, financial abuse, litigation abuse and psychological abuse including, but not limited to, isolation, stalking, harassment, intimidation and threats regarding the safety of a person or the safety of or access to that person’s 
    children. “Domestic violence and abuse” does not include the justified use of force or flight to protect oneself or others in response to abuse or violence. 
  2. In legal proceedings regarding child custody, domestic violence and abuse will be the first factor assessed by the court, before all other factors, in determining the “best interests of the child.” 
  3. In hearings regarding domestic violence or abuse, a court may only consider valid scientific evidence or testimony from qualified professionals with experience working with victims of domestic violence and abuse that meet admissibility standards. 
  4. A presumption against custody will be made for any parent with a history or demonstrated pattern of domestic violence or abuse or any parent who has sexually abused a child. 
  5. If a parent is found to have committed domestic violence or child abuse, that parent shall pay the attorney’s fees and all other court-related expenses of the other parent. 
  6. The legal standard for protective orders shall recognize forms of domestic violence and abuse that endanger the safety or restrict the agency of a person or children. (Refer to the new statutory definition in #1.) 
  7. The State shall provide legal assistance for all victims of domestic violence and abuse to help them complete protective order affidavits and other legal forms. (Legal assistance increased the likelihood of obtaining a protective order by more than 50%.) 
  8. Courts shall restrict frivolous or excessive motions in family court. When divorce cases approach 100 motions, additional motions shall be subject to review and approval before submission. “High conflict” cases should be diverted to a specialized court that recognizes litigation abuse and obstruction and holds parties in contempt for not disclosing financial or other critical information or following court orders. (A small number of “high conflict” cases consume a disproportionate amount of judicial resources. This specialized court would prevent litigation abuse and resolve cases faster.) 
  9. Reopen the Office of Victim Advocate and fund it adequately to support all victims across the state through the legal process. 
  10. Review and approve all judicial education programs to ensure that abuse is recognized and not rewarded. Allow only experts with a demonstrated history of working with Domestic violence and abuse victims to be the educators on this subject. 

Monday, April 1, 2019

HOW FATHER'S RIGHTS PEOPLE HAVE IT ALL WRONG WHEN IT COMES TO FAMILY COURT REFORM!

In a recent hearing at the CT State Legislature, father's rights activists demanded that legislators and citizens define the problem with family court as one of parental alienation.  They are wrong, and I will tell you why. 

My introduction to the CT family court reform movement was around 2011 when Keith Harmon Snow, author of "The Worst Interests of the Child", contacted me to discuss the ways in which victims of domestic violence were losing custody to their abusers. Next, on or around 2013, father's rights advocates seized control of the family court reform movement and reframed its agenda.  

Instead of demonstrating concern regarding protective mothers, they insisted that the problem of family court could only be traced back to the celebrated [or debunked, depending upon your perspective,] theory of parental alienation (PA), or parental alienation syndrome (PAS).  This recently culminated in the raised House Bill 7393 [now withdrawn] which proposed either jail or fines for those whom the Court determines have committed it. 

The Bill also included two separate "friendly parent" provisions which would have guaranteed that anyone who reported domestic violence or child sexual abuse would promptly lose custody.  After all, it is most unfriendly to assert that you or your child are the victims of abuse.  [Ok, I know, not funny.  I'm just joking.]

To begin, for those who do not know, what is parental alienation, or parental alienation syndrome?  

For a definition, I'm taking the easy route, and I will simply quote wikipedia. Parental alienation syndrome is, "a term introduced by child psychiatrist Richard Gardner in 1985 to describe a distinctive suite of behaviors in children that includes showing extreme but unwarranted fear, disrespect or hostility towards a parent. Observed repeatedly in families involved in child custody litigation, these behaviors result from manipulation or undue influence, typically by the other parent who may be attempting to prevent an ongoing relationship between a child and other family members after family separation or divorce." 

The clincher in this discussion is the statement that comes next, "The syndrome has not been accepted by either the medical or legal communities and Gardner's theory has been criticized by legal and mental health scholars for lacking scientific validity and reliability."  

Yet despite the fact that this syndrome has no scientific validity, father's rights people insist upon embedding it in our laws here in CT and making it a central factor in all custody determinations.  

Again, in doing this, I believe that fathers' rights people have it all wrong.  

Why?  

If you have a problem, then you need to look for solutions.  However, these solutions will not work as long as the problems haven't been defined properly.  When it comes to the broken family court system here in CT, I have been increasingly disgusted with the incapacity of many advocates -- father's rights advocates in particular, the Task Force to Study Legal Disputes Involving the Care and Custody of Minor Children (2013 - 2014), members of the legislature and the CT Judicial Branch -- to define the problem in an intelligent manner.  

How can you begin to think of developing policies or crafting bills when you have no idea what is going on?  For me personally, as an advocate, I don't get that approach. 

For instance, blaming the victims. For too long now, starting with the "Report of the Governor's Commission on Divorce, Custody and Children" of December 2002, experts on family court, i.e. attorneys, judges, mental health professionals -- have placed the blame for the problems of family court on the litigants themselves. In the words of the Governor's report, which were again quoted in the report of the Task Force on the Care and Custody of Minor Children (2014), the problem arises from "a small minority of parents [which] engages in persistent conflict because of anger, characterological or mental health problems, or the force of personality."  

The theory that character flaw or mental illness repeats itself in fathers' rights advocates insistence that the problem can be understood almost solely within the context of parental alienation syndrome.  Also, that the solution should be strict punishments for PAS, i.e. jail and hefty financial fines, as well as forced shared parenting.  But is this true?

For a closer look at this phenomenon, take a look at the hearing which took place earlier this month on February 5, 2019. I spent a considerable amount of time yesterday reviewing the entire video which is a little over 9 hours long.  For at least the first three hours of this testimony, viewers were subjected to lengthy lectures on parental alienation theory.  First came Dr. William Bernat, a parental alienation expert, who broke down the theory to its 17 recognized behaviors and 8 symptoms.  After he had completed his testimony, we were forced to listen to Dr. Steve Miller, a frequent flyer at the CT Legislature, who talked about parental alienation syndrome as an epidemic plaguing our nation.  Once he was done, then we were bombarded with more lectures on parental alienation from Linda Gottlieb, who I've been informed is not a psychologist. She talked more about planting false memories and false allegations in the light of parental alienation. 

Then after that, we were required to hear the testimony of Ms. Joan Kloth-Zenard who runs the organization "PAS Intervention"--she apparently is qualified by an MFT, whatever that is, as opposed to an LMFT which is what we would ordinarily be looking for.  What is interesting about Joan's testimony is that, for an example, she described a case where the mother was stabbed in the abdomen and labia by the father, and yet the father still got custody.  To me, this looked to be a case of domestic violence.  However, this is the very interesting twist on the parental alienation movement in that father's rights people have couched this theory in the language of the domestic violence movement and so many people, including women, have come to believe that parental alienation theory is just another word for domestic violence.  That, in itself, is an entirely, different, but interesting story that I will hopefully touch upon in another blog.  

Let me get back to my point. This is the dilemma that arises when folks define the problem of family court as a mental health problem among litigants, whether you want to define it as parental alienation or some other ailment.  It simply isn't true.  

If you look at the Governor's Report of December 2002, there is one paragraph in that report on that nasty, chronic, minority of litigators who they said cause all the trouble.  After that, you get the 65 page detailed report regarding all the systems malfunctions within the family court system itself which actually cause the problems in family court.  

Likewise, once you plow through the insistent litany in regard to PA or PAS in the first 3 hours of the video of the February 5, 2019 day of testimony, which father's rights people provided as the ideological context for the later citizen testimony, you will find 6 additional hours of testimony from at least 30 victims of family court detailing the many systems breakdowns within the CT Family Court system itself.  In other words, the problem is not PA or PAS.  The problem is a broken family court system.  

One person spoke about the fact that there are no consequences for disobeying orders, a failure to obey the ADA, and judges would not listen to her testimony or look at her evidence. She lost everything, her job, her home, her income.  Here is another person who spoke of the collusion between court actors, the failure to obey the constitution, in chambers hearings where parents are not included, impacts including alcohol and drug addiction, homelessness, bankruptcy, trauma, and PTSD.  Another person spoke of the denial of due process, attorneys hiding exculpatory evidence, having to be in court so often it was like a full time job, his case discussed behind closed doors without the parties present, financial costs of up to $300,000 - $500,000 and even more.  

Again, corruption, collusion, racketeering, slander, perjury, lack of ethics, no checks and balances, absolute immunity for negligent and incompetent GALs and other vendors, failure to adhere to the rules of court or case law, financial and emotional blackmail, hired guns, perverted custody evaluations and psychological evaluations, no oversight, no accountability, false allegations, inexperienced and unqualified court personnel, unnecessary continuances, documents that disappear from the court files, transcripts that are tampered with, and on and on.  This is exactly the same testimony we heard during the daylong testimony on February 9, 2014 and the breakdown of family court here in CT.

Forced shared parenting, punishments for so-called alienation, and for not being "friendly", will not correct engrained and deliberately engineered systems failures which are kept in place for profit.  In fact, given the introduction of harsh punishments, settling disputes over whether one parent did or did not alienate the other, will invite additional corrupt vendors into the courtroom, and exacerbate already existing problems within the system.

These systems problems were originally detailed in the Governor's Commission report of 2002 and, for the better part, they have gotten worse, and not better.  

Parental Alienation theories are about the gender wars taking place in America.  Forced shared parenting is about the Men's Rights movement and the backlash against the Women's Rights movement of the 1970s. It is about ideology, and it is about indoctrination. If you talk to the people who promote PAS theory, you quickly get the idea that these are people who act as though they are in a cult reciting their treasured mantras.  

Ideology is like religion.  If you try to enshrine it in your statutes and laws, it will lead to endless confusion. Thinking we can solve the problem of family court by sprinkling holy water on it in the form of the ideology of parental alienation, I think is a recipe for disaster.  

Instead, if we are serious about resolving the problems of family court, we have to do the hard work of looking again at the system itself.  In other words, we have to investigate the machinery of the CT Family Court system which is operating on a daily basis. We have to examine what works, and what does not. It is a difficult and painstaking job, one which often does not have any easy answers, but it is at least a fairly concrete task from which we can garner measurable results. 

Every member of the former Governor's Commission of 2002 is currently notable for being at the center of the corruption and malfeasance in family court which we are looking at today.  The membership list is literally a who's who of legal and mental health professionals who later became famous for exploiting and taking advantage of family court victims.  It is paramount that we make sure nothing like that happens again.  When these kinds of criminal court actors take advantage of Moms and Dads, those parents are not mentally ill, they are victims of corrupt family court practices. 

This doesn't mean that the Commission didn't do a good job of laying the groundwork for future reform in its examination of the family court system. It's just that they immediately ignored the outcome of the report and used the network they estalished doing the work to exploit and harm family court victims.  I  simply believe we need to retrieve that work and use it to continue to make progress here and now.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

DAN LYNCH TO JUDICIARY COMMITTEE "COURT REPORTERS DOUBLE DIPPING!"

Dan Lynch's Testimony in Opposition to Raised S.B. No. 844
AN ACT CONCERNING LEGAL TRANSCRIPT REQUIREMENTS AND THE FEES CHARGED BY COURT REPORTERS.

This proposed Bill, as currently drafted, purports to amend Chapter 874 of the General Statutes, the Chapter titled “Court Reporters,” and which also by reference is impacted by C.G.S. § 51-12 (Chapter 870, Judicial Department).
  • This proposed Bill conflicts with numerous statutes which prevent state employees from conducting private business while on state paid time, using state owned equipment and supplies and from within state facilities

  • For more than a decade, Connecticut taxpayers have been defrauded by the illegal practices being condoned by and within the Connecticut Judicial Branch whereby certain of its employees are being allowed to “double dip,” collecting hourly pay (including benefits and pension) while simultaneously charging additional fees for transcription services rendered for private and public parties during that same time

  • Comprehensive review of the entire Chapter 874 is needed to ensure it comports with legal and ethical requirements, as well as current capabilities of technology

  • For more than a decade, some have sought to profit from loopholes in existing statutes which have not kept pace with the significant advancements in technology, as well as the changes regarding hiring of court personnel vs. per diem contractors

The Judicial Branch has known, but remained largely silent as to the highly questionable ethical and legal practices concerning state employees:

o conducting private enterprise while on state paid time
conducting private enterprise from within state facilities (courthouses) 
o conducting private enterprise using state owned equipment and office supplies
page1image15088 page1image15248

QUESTIONS REGARDING THIS PROPOSED LEGISLATION:
  1. Which members of the Judiciary Committee have raised S.B. No.844?
  2. What is the specific rationale being used to allow and codify into our statutes an abusive and illegal practice which should be terminated?
  3. What is the justification for allowing state employees to profit incrementally from the very work product that is already created and owned by the public?
Committee on Court Recording Monitors and Court Reporters (November 4, 2010)
https://www.jud.ct.gov/Committees/pst/court_rep/Final_Report.pdf

Whistleblower Complaint (May 21, 2015)
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8b75uSVYHH-OGdyd05Dc2ExWWs

Yankee Institute for Public Policy (Marc E. Fitch, March 7, 2018)
https://www.yankeeinstitute.org/2018/03/audit-finds-court-reporters-make-extra-1-million-in-side-work-boosting-salaries-and-pensions/

CT-N Coverage of Joint Legislative Committee (State Auditor’s Reports, July 9, 2018)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

PROPOSED BILL S.B. 313 COULD POTENTIALLY ALLOW DCF TO INTRUDE UPON THE RIGHTS OF PARENTS!


OLR Bill Analysis
sSB 313 

AN ACT CONCERNING MEDICAL CARE FOR CHILDREN IN THE CUSTODY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES. 
SUMMARY

By law, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) commissioner and any agent she appoints must exercise careful supervision of each child under her guardianship or care. This bill permits the DCF commissioner, on the advice of a physician, to authorize non-emergency medical, psychological, psychiatric, or surgical treatment, or a medical multidisciplinary evaluation, to ensure the health of a child in the department's guardianship or care. But if the child's permanency plan involves reunification with the child's parent or parents, the commissioner must provide written notice to the parent or parents at least five days before the treatment or evaluation. 

If the child or the parent or parents object, they may file a motion for emergency relief within five days after the notice is given. (It is unclear if this means within five days after the commissioner sends the notice or five days after the parents receive it.) The child generally may not have the treatment or evaluation within that five day period or while the motion is pending, unless there is an emergency necessitating it. 

Additionally, the bill permits individuals and agencies to whom DCF has granted care and custody of a child under a temporary custody order to authorize medical multidisciplinary evaluations for children in their care. The law already permits DCF and these individuals and agencies in such circumstances to make decisions regarding emergency medical, psychological, psychiatric, or surgical treatment. 

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2018
COMMITTEE ACTION
Committee on Children
Joint Favorable Substitute

*THIS BILL HAS NOT YET BEEN PASSED BY THE STATE LEGISLATURE, BUT IS WELL ON ITS WAY IN THAT DIRECTION.  

Thursday, April 5, 2018

CT JUDICIARY COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY PASSES S.B. NO. 466 TO REDUCE DUAL ARRESTS IN CASES OF DV!

Raised S.B. No. 466 
Session Year 2018


AN ACT CONCERNING DUAL ARRESTS AND THE TRAINING REQUIRED OF LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL WITH RESPECT TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

"To reduce the number of dual arrests that occur in domestic violence cases and enhance domestic violence training offered to state and local law enforcement agencies."
For more information on this bill which was passed successfully by the Judiciary Committee, please see the link below:
RELATED ARTICLES:
Copy of the proposed bill, see below:
Karen Jarmoc's (CCADV) remarks on the problem of dual arrests in CT, see below:
Testimony from Sanna Dilawar about her horrible experience of dual arrest, see below:

S.B. NO. 479 PROTECTING MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS IN A DCF CASE APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN PASSED UNANIMOUSLY BY THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE!

Raised S.B. No. 479 
Session Year 2018

AN ACT CONCERNING IMMUNITY FROM CIVIL OR CRIMINAL LIABILITY FOR PERSONS PROVIDING MEDICAL ASSISTANCE OR INTERVENTION IN A CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT CASE.

"To extend the immunity provided to those who in good faith report suspected child abuse or neglect to medical professionals involved in the evaluation of the suspected abuse or neglect."
For more information on this bill, which recently passed through the judiciary committee successfully, please click on the link below:
Comment:  From my perspective this might be helpful because pedophiles are often encouraged to sue the heck out of the medical professionals who report them and this acts as a deterrant when doctors are confronted with cases of abuse and are considering whether to report.

H.B. No. 5575 APPEARS TO HAVE PASSED THROUGH THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY!


Raised H.B. No. 5575 
Session Year 2018


AN ACT CONCERNING THE APPOINTMENT OF A LICENSED HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL TO PROVIDE TREATMENT OR AN EVALUATION IN CONNECTION WITH A FAMILY RELATIONS MATTER.

"To allow a party to a family relations matter to have greater input on the selection of a licensed health care professional who is to provide treatment or an evaluation in connection with such matter."
For more information on this bill which recently passed successfully through the judiciary committee, see the link below:

https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/cgabillstatus/cgabillstatus.asp?selBillType=Bill&bill_num=HB05575&which_year=2018

Friday, March 30, 2018

PROPOSED BILL BEFORE THE CT JUDICIARY COMMITTEE ON DUAL ARRESTS - HEARING ON APRIL 2, 2018 AT 10:00AM IN ROOM 2C OF THE LOB!


General Assembly
Raised Bill No. 466 
February Session, 2018
LCO No. 2265
*02265_______JUD*
Referred to Committee on JUDICIARY 
Introduced by:
(JUD)
AN ACT CONCERNING DUAL ARRESTS AND THE TRAINING REQUIRED OF LAW ENFORCEMENT PERSONNEL WITH RESPECT TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:
Section 1. Section 46b-38b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2018):

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

ELIZABETH A. RICHTER TESTIMONY TO THE CT JUDICIARY COMMITTEE ON BILL #505!

Dear Sir/Madame:

While I support the intent of Bill #505 in terms of cutting back on inappropriate judicial activism--i.e. taking on the role of the legislature in creating law--I have serious concerns about Section 3 (a) of the bill as follows:

(a) The Superior Court shall be the sole court of original jurisdiction for all causes of action, except such actions over which the courts of probate have original jurisdiction, as provided by statute. The Superior Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction in cases at law and equity and in all criminal matters originating before it to determine credibility and find facts based upon the evidence submitted.

Unfortunately, on the superior court level, because there is a widespread failure to obey the Rules of Evidence or The Practice Book, incorrect facts end up in the record all the time, particularly when it comes to litigants with disabilities or with self represented parties.  Unless protocols were put into place on the superior court level to safeguard litigants' right to correct any errors of fact that enter into the record, the inability to appeal decisions made based upon factual error would lead to injustice in a great many cases, particularly in regard to the most vulnerable. Therefore, I would either rewrite this section to address the concerns I've raised or simply vote down this bill.

Thank you very much for your time and attention to this matter and your careful consideration of the concerns that I've raised. 

Sincerely,

Elizabeth A. Richter

Sunday, March 5, 2017

CT FATHER'S POWER ADVOCATES SKETCH OUT A LEGISLATIVE INITIATIVE TO CRUSH MOTHERS IN CT FAMILY COURT!

The Commander, "The Handmaiden's Tale"
The way Fathers in CT want things to be!
In Margaret Atwood's dystopic novel "The Handmaiden's Tale", a series which airs soon on Hulu, women have been reduced to baby making machines in a society where men have seized full political control  of the entire United States.  Impossible?  Unlikely?  Don't be so sure.

"Handmaidens" whose sole purpose is to give birth
in Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaiden's Tale"
Recently, I was at the Legislative Office Building with some friends when a person showed me current 2017 legislative proposals, which, appallingly enough, sketch out a strategic plan that will essentially crush mothers in Family Court and lead to a situation where men seize control of family court processes and essentially remove mothers from the lives of their children in droves. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

CT LAW TRIBUNE REPORTS NEW BILL PROPOSED THAT CALLS FOR SERIOUS PENALTIES AGAINST ANYONE WHO THREATENS A JUDGE!

Michelle Tuccitto Sullo of the CT LAW TRIBUNE reports as follows:

Connecticut lawmakers are considering a bill that calls for more severe penalties for anyone convicted of threatening a judge. While the proposal follows a high-profile case in which a man described in an email the hypothetical trajectory of a bullet aimed at a judge's bedroom, officials say that about a dozen Connecticut judges receive threats each year. 

The bill, "An Act Concerning Enhanced Penalties for Threatening a Judge," is before the Judiciary Committee.

"In general, threats against anyone are unacceptable," said state Rep. William Tong, a Stamford attorney who is co-chair of the Judiciary Committee. "Judges serve the public in what are often contentious situations. We want to make sure they are protected from threats on their life. At times, the level of debate and commentary about judges can be heated, and it is not uncommon for people to cross the line."

Currently, first-degree threatening is a class D felony, which carries a maximum of five years imprisonment. Under the proposal, first-degree threatening, if the threat is aimed at a judge, would be considered a class C felony, which would mean up to 10 years in prison.

Under the current law, second-degree threatening is a class A misdemeanor, which has a maximum penalty of one year in prison. The proposal is to make it a class E felony if the threat is against a judge, increasing the maximum penalty to three years in prison.

The stiffer penalties would apply for a threat against any state Superior Court, Appellate Court or Supreme Court judge. It also would apply to federal judges, state referees and a judge of another state.

Tong noted the recent case involving Edward Taupier of Cromwell, who was convicted of first-degree threatening in connection with an alleged threat against Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Bozzuto. Taupier was sentenced in January to 18 months in prison.

Bozzuto was the judge handling Taupier's divorce case. The email in question was sent to individuals involved in family court reform efforts, and was not sent to Bozzuto, though she later learned about it. The email had information about how Bozzuto's bedroom is 245 yards away from a cemetery, which could provide concealment, and described in detail a bullet's trajectory from a shooting distance of 250 yards, court documents show.

At Taupier's sentencing, Bozzuto spoke about the fear she has experienced over the incident, and she said she still waits for the day when she is home and not worried about Taupier lying in wait.

Taupier maintains he was exercising his right to free speech, and he is appealing.

"The language in the Taupier case was scary," Tong said. "We want to make sure our judges are safe and protected."

Taupier's attorney, Rachel Baird of Torrington, has said her client was just venting his frustrations with Bozzuto, and he never intended to harm her.

In response to this legislative proposal to increase the penalty for threatening a judge in Connecticut, Baird said: "Given that Mr. Taupier has been under house arrest since September 2014 with no end in sight, and an 18-month jail sentence awaits for speech that was never conveyed to a judge, I would venture to say that we already have a far different standard for judges in Connecticut. Why bother passing a law?"

According to Baird, she believes this proposal is in response to the Taupier case, and a stiffer penalty could potentially stifle free speech. However, William Dunlap, professor of law at Quinnipiac University, said the legislation should be able to draw the line between free speech and unprotected threats. "Criticizing judges is one thing, threatening them is another," Dunlap said. "The bill is for punishing threatening, and that is not protected speech."

Dunlap noted there are other instances in which a victim's profession is considered an aggravating factor, such as if someone murders a police officer.

"In this bill, if a judge is the victim, it would be considered an aggravating circumstance and it raises the penalty, and that is not unusual," Dunlap said.

The state Judicial Branch didn't have exact statistics readily available on how often state judges have been the target of threats.

"Last year, there were about a dozen threats to judges that we are aware of," said court system spokeswoman Rhonda Stearley-Hebert. "The safety of our judges is of concern. "The Judicial Branch very much appreciates the co-chairs of the Judiciary Committee proposing this bill."

Judicial Branch officials plan to submit testimony when the bill is scheduled for a public hearing, according to Stearley-Hebert. No hearing date has been scheduled yet.

Robert L. Holzberg, a retired Superior Court judge who leads the alternative dispute resolution practice at Pullman & Comley in Hartford, said he never encountered any threats during his time as a judge, in which he handled a range of civil and criminal cases. Still, he said, "this proposal seems reasonable. If an individual feels they can achieve a better outcome by making threats, the very pillars of our justice system are undermined. Our justice system is founded on the proposition that judges will make decisions free of bias, threats or intimidation."

Another retired Connecticut state judge, who asked not to be identified, said family court cases can be particularly contentious. The judge reported that most family court judges have been the subject of threatening comments, to the point of it even having a chilling effect on their desire to continue the work.

There have been other high-profile cases involving threats against judges who work in Connecticut in recent years which resulted in arrests.

Garrett Santillo of Florida was charged in 2014 with mailing death threats to several individuals in Connecticut, including two federal judges. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Chatigny received a letter at his home address in July 2014, demanding he vindicate an individual in an unsolved New Haven homicide. The letter indicated, "We can still track you to wherever you go and will kill you if you don't follow what this letter instructs." Santillo also threatened to kill U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton, court documents show. Santillo pleaded guilty to one count of mailing a threatening communication, and he awaits sentencing in U.S. District Court.

Roland Prejean, a Thomaston resident when he was arrested, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in 2013 to five years and eight months in prison, for mailing numerous threatening letters in 2010. According to the U.S. Attorney's office, one of the letters was sent to a Superior Court judge in New London, and included a substance that was represented to be "Liquid Anthrax."

See more at: