Mark Dubois Mark Dubois

I was reading a decision by Judge Thomas Moukawsher dealing with a contract claim against the city of Hartford, where he noted that a summary judgment motion turned “on the pinch of Fennell,” referring to a 1996 case that went by that name. I thought the cooking reference was clever. I started reading the judge’s other decisions and discovered a wonderful trove of language. They bring to mind “Novels in Three Lines,” a collection of faits divers—literally “diverse things”— authored by Felix Feneon in the French newspaper Le Matin in 1906.

Feneon has been described as a “dandy, anarchist, a critic of genius, the discoverer of Georges Seurat and the first French publisher of James Joyce.” Feneon’s—and Moukawsher’s—genius was and is an ability to summarize the facts of a legal matter quickly, accurately and in an entertaining manner. For instance, Fenenon’s report of a love triangle:

“Eugene Perichot, of Pailles, near Saint-Maixent, entertained at his home Mme. Lemartrier. Eugene Dupuis came to fetch her. They killed him. Love.”

Intentionally or accidentally, Moukawsher has adopted a writing style much the same as Feneon. I could read his decisions forever, but there are only 138 right now. Rather than explaining further, read the following and decide for yourself:

  • Magistrate Gilman ruled orally. This appeal seems only to claim he erred on whether he could deviate. Because he was right, he is upheld.
  • Hyppolite does not contest the motion to strike his claim for punitive damages. If he repleads his trade practices claims, he would have a statutory basis for a fee claim, but not without those claims or another sufficient basis at law, and he does not claim to have one. The punitive damages claim is struck.
  • There is no question the law lets the board do what it did. The board was rational in the sense that it gave its reasons and listened to what Dempsey had to say. And that is enough, given the law requires the courts to let the referee and the board decide. So Dempsey’s appeal must fail.
  • With knowledge of its coming and the agonies that accompanied it, death itself for Pamela Johns must have been both a horror and a mercy. We cannot know what followed, but we can know that Pamela Johns wanted to live and that her death must be valued as it was—the product of the most grievous act of man—the taking of an innocent life.
  • There is case law—none of it binding—on both sides. But it is the statute and the rule that matter. They unequivocally say that I may not compel an examination by a physician objected to in writing. That is enough for me. … I do not find the statute works absurd or unworkable results, so I will not wander through the mouse-strewn maze of legislative history or wring my hands over prior iterations of the law. The statute and the rule permit courts to order medical exams. I am happy to order one here. … Aurand Construction has articulated a good reason to do one and to do it in a hurry. Hayn has a fast approaching date with the commissioner of corrections. But the statute and rule give Hayn the right to reject Barnett. So Aurand should pick someone else right away. But, Aurand will ask, what do we do when Hayn rejects the next person too? That is a different kettle of fish.
  • First, the court already determined that Autorino’s defenses were weak and that one was interposed solely for delay. The property at issue is so far submerged in debt that there was no way to avoid needing Autorino’s guarantee money, and this takes care of Autorino’s biggest claim. But he made others with even less merit. Autorino even tried a groundless collateral attack on the long-established judgment that entered against him. His hedgehog defense against this foreclosure may have been successful, but it wasn’t legally strong. The court doesn’t rate high his chances of winning on appeal.
  • But Twombly doesn’t require this and—in any case—Connecticut has its own pleading standards. Yes, as the briefs in this case point out Connecticut does use federal class action case law as a guide. But it’s only a guide. And this isn’t a class action question. It’s a pleading question and our Supreme Court hasn’t even adopted Twombly not to mention its more punishing penumbra.
  • The Supreme Court held in 1958 in Dumond v. Denehy, that “[s]imply using the word ‘reckless’ or ‘recklessness’ is not enough. A specific allegation setting out the conduct that is claimed to be reckless or wanton must be made.” This is still good law too. The Appellate Court relied on it verbatim last year.…
  • This is merely a case where a party knew what it wanted to appeal but simply missed the deadline to appeal it. This appeal was filed late. This court is without jurisdiction to hear it. The appeal is dismissed.

Moukawsher, J., wastes no time with fools or foolishness. Upon retiring from the bench, he might try faits divers. Genius.

Former Connecticut Chief Disciplinary Counsel Mark Dubois is with Geraghty & Bonnano in New London.