To The Editor:
Chief Justice William Sullivan’s accomplishments during his tenure far outweigh the error of holding up the publication of Clerk of the Superior Court v. Freedom of Information Commission. The decision to delay the ruling’s publication has been magnified out of proportion. Not one word of it was changed, and the media’s reporting of the event has overlooked one of the most extraordinary and successful tenures of any chief justice in recent memory.
Those accomplishments include improvements for pro se litigants, the institution of Supreme Court visitation programs for over 6,000 high school and elementary school students each year, the opening of the Supreme Court for high school mock trial competition finals, and the institution of a new bar swearing-in ceremony in the Supreme Court building.
Other accomplishments with respect to attorneys and judges are as follows:
• The chief justice saw to it that a Lawyer’s Assistance Program was put into operation. The program addresses the problems of lawyers who have alcohol, drug and mental health problems, and is widely viewed as a successful step in the effort to lower the number of defalcations and other lawyer misconduct.
• The recommendation and adoption of new rules concerning opening of court records. These rules were enacted to prohibit the past practice of sealing files, and to provide for sealing only under the criteria set forth in the new rules.
• The chief justice established a Committee on Attorney Advertising to review Connecticut’s rules on the issue. It recommended several new rules which are now before the Rules Committee of the Superior Court.
• The creation of a Criminal Commission comprised of attorneys, prosecutors and public defenders to improve the practice of criminal law in the Connecticut court system.
• The chief justice has strongly supported the Civil Commission, which during his tenure approved several proposed rules which have been forwarded on to the Rules Committee, all designed to improve and simplify the civil justice system.
• Chief Justice Sullivan actively served on the Task Force on Attorney Trust Accounts. The panel’s proposed rules, also pending before the Rules Committee, would make it much harder for attorneys convicted of stealing client’s funds to ever return to the practice of law. They also call for random auditing of attorney’s trust accounts. The chief justice pledged that the Judicial Branch would hire a forensic accountant and another attorney in the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel to help prosecute lawyers guilty of theft.
I also could list the chief justice’s many accomplishments with respect to the probate court, the juvenile justice system, judicial marshals, the increase in the number of probation officers, and the establishment of specialized units to more closely supervise sex offenders and technical violators. These are set out in detail in a letter submitted to members of the legislature.
That letter was subscribed to by prominent attorneys from across the state: Robert B. Adelman, of Adelman, Hirsch & Newman in Bridgeport; William R. Davis, of Riscassi and Davis in Hartford; Dale C. Faulkner, of Faulkner & Boyce in New London; Ira B. Grudberg, of Jacobs, Grudberg, Belt, Dow & Katz in New Haven; R. Bartley Halloran, of Hartford; Hugh F. Keefe, of Lynch, Traub, Keefe & Errante in New Haven; Tara L. Knight, of Knight, Conway & Cerritelli in New Haven; Hubert J. Santos and Hope C. Seeley, of Santos & Seeley in Hartford; and William J. Sweeney Jr., of Sweeney & Griffen in New Britain.
I believe, as do the lawyers mentioned above, that when viewed in perspective, the hold on the decision ought not to be magnified beyond its true significance. To exploit it for political purposes demeans not only Justice Sullivan, but the other members of the court and the court itself. I hope these considerations help avoid, or at least lessen, further controversy.
William F. Gallagher, Esq.