Connecticut Supreme Court in Hartford. Connecticut Supreme Court in Hartford. Courtesy photo

From legal questions regarding zoning issues to attorney fees and whether a black defendant received a fair trial from a jury that was underrepresented by minority jurors, the Connecticut Supreme Court will wrestle with 32 cases during its fourth term beginning Dec. 10.

The court’s fourth of eight terms is the last one of the calendar year and runs from Dec. 10 through Dec. 21. The court will hear oral arguments in the 32 cases during that time frame.

The Connecticut Law Tribune broke down the more notable cases.

State v. Darnell Moore

The state’s high court, led by recently installed Chief Justice Richard Robinson, will hear arguments from Darnell Moore, a black male who claims the trial court which found him guilty of murder violated his Sixth Amendment and equal protection rights regarding a lack of black male jurors on his case.

It’s not clear how many black jurors, if any, served on the jury, but Moore claimed in his appeal to the Connecticut Appellate Court that the way jurors were selected in New London County was unfair.

The Appellate Court ruled that Moore’s rights were not violated. It reasoned that Moore failed to present evidence that the representation of black males in voir dire panels was not reasonable in relation to the number eligible to serve as jurors.

The Appellate Court also found that Moore’s equal protection claim failed because he did not present evidence of discriminatory intent and didn’t demonstrate that substantial underrepresentation of black males had occurred over a significant period of time.

The state Supreme Court will decide whether the Appellate Court properly found that census data were not probative of the claim that black males were underrepresented in the jury pool in his case.

State v. Tony Moreno

The state’s high court will hear from attorneys representing a man who was convicted of murder and risk of injury to a child after he threw his 7-month-old son from a bridge before jumping from the bridge himself. The father survived, but the baby died.

At issue are the Miranda rights and whether Tony Moreno was adequately provided his rights.

Moreno was read his rights and submitted to a videotaped interrogation by the police while in his hospital bed. Because Moreno had a breathing tube in place that required the hospital to bind his hands with medical restraints, he did not execute a written waiver of his Miranda rights.

To complicate matters, due to an officer’s inability to operate the video recorder, certain portions of the interrogation were not recorded, including the portion where Moreno was read and orally waived his rights.

The trial court denied Moreno’s motion to suppress, stating that he was in custody, had been provided with Miranda warnings and had knowingly and voluntarily waived his rights despite being on certain medications due to his suicide attempt.

The state’s high court will decide whether the trial court incorrectly denied Moreno’s motion to suppress and whether his waiver of his Miranda rights were involuntary, which would have then made them invalid.

Sylvester Traylor v. State

The state’s high court will hear from attorneys representing Sylvester Traylor in a medical malpractice action.

At issue are Connecticut General Statutes requiring that a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case obtain and attach to the complaint a written and signed opinion of a similar health care provider that there appears to be evidence of medical negligence.

In 2006, Traylor brought a medical malpractice suit against his wife’s psychiatrist following her suicide, but the complaint didn’t include the opinion letter as required by the general statutes. While Traylor subsequently obtained an opinion letter, the trial court dismissed the action on the grounds that no opinion letter was attached to the original complaint. Traylor brought several lawsuits challenging the dismissal of his medical malpractice action.

Traylor is asking the state’s high court to declare the statute in question unconstitutional.

Netscout Systems v. Gartner

Netscout Systems brought an action alleging defamation, asserting that statements about its business in a research report by Gartner, an information technology firm, were false. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court granted.

As to the defamation claim, the trial court found that the statements, including comparing and ranking competing vendors, were entitled to heightened First Amendment protection and required proof of actual malice because, among other things, Netscout, the court said, is a “limited purpose public figure.”

The trial court concluded the statements were not made with actual malice. The state’s high court agreed to take on the case and give its opinion.