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Hartford, Conn.�Quasi-judicial immunity is warranted for lawyers for minor children because the threat of a suit may discourage them from taking positions on behalf of a child that is adverse to the interests of the child’s parents, the Connecticut Appellate Court has ruled. In a split decision, the intermediate-level court has ruled that an attorney for a minor is entitled to qualified immunity from malpractice and other tort actions, because the job has judgelike duties. The recently released majority opinion, written by Judge Barry R. Schaller and joined by Chief Judge William J. Lavery, concludes that Paul Carrubba cannot sue court-appointed lawyer Emily J. Moskowitz for his mental distress or her alleged failure to advocate the positions of his minor son, Matthew. Immunity is warranted Carrubba’s suit alleged that Moskowitz, who practices in West Hartford, Conn., abandoned Matthew as a client, acting as a guardian ad litem rather than as an advocate. The majority held, however, that quasi-judicial immunity is warranted for lawyers for a minor because “[t]he threat of a lawsuit by the parents may serve to intimidate and to discourage the attorney from taking appropriately forceful positions on behalf of the child, but adverse to the interests of either, or both, of the child’s parents.” A court-appointed lawyer for a minor is entitled to the same quasi-judicial immunity enjoyed by prosecutors, the majority held in Carrubba v. Moskowitz, 81 Conn. App. 382. In a dissent, Judge Trial Referee Francis X. Hennessy, sitting by designation, wrote, “I believe that the role of the attorney for the child, despite the fetters placed on her or him, is more consistent with that of the public defender than that of the prosecutor.” Public defenders, due to their advocacy role, do not enjoy the quasi-judicial immunity that prosecutors have.

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