Remarks of Senior Associate Justice David
September 28, 2006
you all for coming today. I recognize that matters of openness
and accessibility of the courts are of great importance to
members of the public. It is my hope that, upon reading the
Judicial Branch Public Access Task Force report, the public will
see that the Judicial Branch is committed to a court system that
is open, transparent and accountable.
to begin my remarks by saying how proud I am of the task force
members and the staff who helped them in producing the report.
It is obvious that it is the product of immense hard work and
incisive thought. I cannot think of another instance in which
any governmental body in this state has produced such an
impressive document, on matters of such importance, and under
such severe time constraints.
mind that the first meeting of the task force was on May 25th of
this year, and the final report was submitted to me on time, on
September 15th. This would not have been possible
without the dedicated commitment of both the task force members
and the staff, who worked throughout the summer, including
nights and weekends. I am extremely grateful to all of the
individuals involved for their selfless effort on behalf of the
people of the state of Connecticut.
also like to thank the members of the judiciary, who perform
with distinction and honor. Each day, our state judges are
called upon to deal with serious problems affecting people’s
lives, and do so, in the main, in an open and transparent
fashion. I am proud to have these men and women as my
colleagues. The task force recommendations will give them an
even greater opportunity to demonstrate how well they do their
Now I would like to turn to my decisions on the 38 recommendations of
the task force. I endorse 35 of the 38 recommendations. One
recommendation, the definition of "meeting" for purposes of
determining openness of judicial committees, will require
further study. I do not endorse two recommendations that, in my
view, involve fundamental legislative policy, which should be
left to the general assembly—those are numbers 18 and 19, which
address various legislatively created pretrial diversion
produced a document that lists all of the recommendations, my
decision on each, and how each will be implemented. As you can
see from that document, some of the recommendations can and will
be implemented administratively, without further delay. Some
will require votes of the judges of the Superior Court. Some
will require action by the rules committee of the Superior Court
and then a vote by the judges. Some will require action by the
appellate rules committee and then votes by the judges of the
Supreme and Appellate courts. And some will require legislative
action by the General Assembly in connection with rule changes
by the judges.
first like to highlight some of the recommendations that we will
implement administratively without delay.
- There will be online access to the daily criminal
- The branch will adopt comprehensive written policies
making clear that court records are presumed to be open and
accessible, and that members of the public may use hand-held
scanners to reproduce those records, eliminating copying fees.
All committees that were administratively created within
the Judicial Branch will be open, and we will post on the branch
website the times, places and agendas of their meetings.
Examples of these are the Civil Commission and the Criminal
Division Task Force.
We will establish a
Judicial-Media Committee, consisting
of Judicial officials and media representatives, along with a
“fire brigade” that will be able to answer questions and aid in
the resolution of disputes over access to Judicial proceedings
on the day those questions or disputes arise.
Attendance records of the judges are open and accessible.
We will add the word “open” to the mission statement of
the branch so that it will now read, “to resolve disputes
brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner.”
We will make clear that note taking in courtrooms is
permitted as a matter of Judicial policy—although the court will
retain its traditional authority to prevent disruptive behavior
in the courtroom.
- We will post criminal conviction information online,
taking care, however, to post the information in a form that
will reduce the risk of identity theft.
- We will review all Judicial Branch forms to
ensure that they do not request information,
such as social security numbers and the like,
that would make identity theft easier, unless
the information is necessary for the
are just some of the recommendations that we can and will
implement administratively. I’d now like to turn to some of the
recommendations that will require the approval of the judges of
the Superior Court or the two Appellate level-courts, either by
direct vote or by a vote following a recommendation of the Rules
Committee of the Superior Court or the Appellate Rules
Committee. In this connection, I want to make it clear that I support these recommendations and will work with the judges to
make them a reality. These recommendations are as follows:
to emphasize, however, that all of these recommendations for
increased electronic coverage of both trial and appellate
proceedings have built into them protections for jurors, and for
sensitive cases such as those involving child witnesses and
victims of sexual assault.
- Open the Rules Committee of the Superior Court, the
Appellate Rules Committee and the executive committee of the
Superior Court. In this connection, Justice Peter T. Zarella,
who is the chair of the Rules Committee of the Superior Court
and Justice Flemming L. Norcott, Jr., who is the chair of the
Appellate Rules Committee, both support the opening of their
- Permit public access to police reports used to determine
probable cause in criminal matters.
- Rescind the present rule that seals financial affidavits
in uncontested marital dissolution cases, leaving such sealing
decisions to the same criteria that apply to all other civil
Expand electronic access—television and still photo
coverage—to the Supreme and Appellate Courts’ oral arguments.
The proceedings will be presumed to be open to such coverage,
and more flexibility will be permitted in the placement, use and
number of the cameras.
In the trial courts, institute a two–year pilot program
of expanded electronic coverage of criminal proceedings, and
also expand the electronic media coverage of civil proceedings,
except for family and juvenile division proceedings. In both the
criminal pilot program and the expanded civil coverage, the
coverage will be presumed to be permitted and will be excluded
only for good reasons stated on the record.
are just some of the highlights of the recommendations. I will
be glad to take any questions that you might have.
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