(Photo: Andrew Linnett via Wikimedia Commons)
Connecticut Bar Association members have until midnight on Tuesday, Aug. 19, to vote on whether the organization should join in a legal defense of Connecticut gun control legislation passed in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.
The question before all 9,000 members is: Should the CBA sign the amicus brief being prepared by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence to defend the state’s gun control laws?
CBA President Mark Dubois said the logistics for the referendum were hashed out at an Aug. 13 meeting of the House of Delegates. The result is that nearly all members were sent an e-mail announcing the referendum and offering instructions on how to case a vote on the CBA website at www.ctbar.org. The emails include a direct link to the proper website page.
“We have a new website, and membership management program,” Dubois said, explaining that the new website includes a “voting function.”
CBA leaders didn’t know how often they would use the voting function when they learned of its existence, he said. But the debate over joining the Brady Center amicus, which is due on Aug. 21, gave them a chance to use the new technology.
Last year, several Second Amendment groups filed suit last year against the Connecticut legislation that expanded the number of banned assault-type weapons and restricted ownerhsip of large ammunition magazines. When a judge dismissed the suit, the advocacy groups appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
In late July, the CBA House of Delegates voted 35-14 in favor of joining the Brady Campaign’s amicus in the case called Shew v. Malloy. In response, opponents of CBA involvement in the gun control issue gathered far more than the 50 signatures necessary to put the matter to a vote of the entire membership.
While most CBA members have email addresses, some don’t. Most of the rest will receive a ballot by fax, Dubois said. There are also a handful of members who don’t have a fax number or email; they were sent letters by regular mail on Thursday, Aug. 14. The voting will end at midnight on Aug. 19. If members vote in favor of joining the amicus, that will give the CBA Executive Committee just one day to review the “quality of the brief” to determine if the association should, in fact, sign onto the docusment, which must be filed by Aug. 21.
While the names of the individuals who vote, and how they vote, will be kept confidential, the results will be certified by the CBA’s secretary and communicated to the Board of Governors, said Dubois. “The results will then be shared with the membership at large,” he said.
Tony Miodonka, who practices at Finn Dixon & Herling in Stamford, organized the petition to get the referendum. He could not be reached for comment on the just-passed referendum rules. Miodonka said earlier that he was opposed, like many others, to the organization getting involved in a “hot-button” political topic.
Dubois said about 10 people had quit the organization after the House of Delegates voted to join the amicus. “Some of them have requested to come back so they can vote,” he said. Those members, as long as they are in good standing and have paid their dues for the current bar year, will be permitted to vote.