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Supreme Court hears 2 cases at Eastern

Published on October 26, 2022

Supreme Court hears 2 cases at Eastern

‘On Circuit’ gives students up-close look at judicial process

Connecticut Supreme Court Justices begin hearing cases at Eastern Connecticut State University..
Connecticut Supreme Court Justices from left to right: Justice Steven D. Ecker, Justice Gregory T. D’Auria, Chief Justice Richard A. Robinson, Justice Raheem L. Mullins and Appellate Court Judge Nina F. Elgo. 

Eastern Connecticut State University hosted the Connecticut Supreme Court on Oct. 19 as it heard two cases in the Concert Hall of the Fine Arts Instructional Center. The event marked the return of the Court’s “On Circuit” program, which had been suspended since 2020 due to the pandemic. The program aims to provide students, educators and the public an up-close look at the appellate process.

This was the Supreme Court’s first visit to Eastern since 2003 and second “On Circuit” visit overall. “Our students and community gained powerful knowledge of the inner workings of our justice system by watching the justices deliberate the two cases on the docket that day,” said Eastern President Elsa Núñez. “Having our students watch the justices engaged in debate may persuade these young people to one day pursue a law career.”

The first case was State of Connecticut v. Shaila M. Curet, from the Waterbury Judicial District. This case sought to decide whether the appellate court was correct in concluding that warrantless police entry into the defendant's apartment was not justified under the Exigent Circumstances Doctrine.

The second case was John Drumm, Chief of Police, et al. v. Freedom of Information Commission et al., from the New Britain Judicial District. This case sought to determine whether the trial court made error in concluding that requested police records were not exempt from disclosure under state law and whether the trial court was incorrect in deciding that substantial evidence in the record supported the Freedom of Information Commission's (FOIC) findings.

Judges presiding over two cases during the “On Circuit” program.
A lawyer argues his case during the "On Circuit" program at Eastern.  

Political Science Professor Courtney Broscious attended the hearings with several of her students. “Students were able to talk with justices about how they approached cases and what skills are necessary to succeed in the field of law,” she said. “It is not often that students get to enjoy informal conversation with the some of the sharpest legal minds in our state and the leaders of our state judicial branch.”

Political science major Will Engle attended the hearings. “The most interesting part of the proceedings was getting to watch the pressure that the justices put on the attorneys,” he said. An aspiring defense attorney, Engle was inspired by seeing attorneys perform in the highest state-level court, an experience that defied his expectations.

“When talking about the appellate level, I am used to thinking mostly about judges and the different ways they decide cases,” he said, “but in watching the proceedings I saw how important it was for the attorneys to put together a clear and concise argument to convince the justices to see something their way.”

Junior political science major Nicole Gaston was also in attendance. “At some points, it was clear that an attorney was asked a question that maybe they weren’t expecting but they were still able to circle back to their argument.”

“This truly shows how much attorneys prepare for their case and how quickly they need to think when they are unsure of how to answer a justice’s question.” Gaston, who aspires to go to law school, walked away with an important takeaway: “Prepare for anything.”

Written by Noel Teter