Much has been written lately about the failure of a certain trial judge to act in accordance with Connecticut General Statutes Section 53-183 by failing to issue her decisions within the time allotted in four termination of parental rights actions filed by the Department of Children and Families. We all understand that judges are required by law to render their decisions within 120 days of the conclusion of trial unless the parties waive that requirement. What we should not lose sight of, however, is that lawyers must not acquiesce as a matter of course when trial judges seek extensions of the deadline for decision, and certainly must not tolerate extension on extension on extension thwarting the purposes for which such deadlines have been set.
Lawyers too often avoid confrontation with trial judges out of fear that the judges will punish the client for such behavior. This is an excuse, not a defensible reason, and one that impugns the integrity of the judge. That is not to say that we should expect every judge to be gracious about being reminded of his or her statutory obligation, but it is simply wrong to assume that judges retaliate.
Moreover, clients have a right to a timely resolution of their cases, whether it is a determination as to where a child will be enrolled in school based on a custody determination or whether some new construction violates local zoning. Judges are human too, and that means they too can seek to avoid the struggles of putting pen to paper, wrestling with the law, crafting the facts so as not to offend and worrying that an appellate court will make them look foolish.
When lawyers allow their cases to drag on, they may do their clients a disservice, but they also become complicit and in effect aiders and abettors in the judges’ conduct, leaving themselves open to the ridicule of those very same appellate courts, and all of us as members of the bench and bar to the public’s rightful criticism. See DiGiovanna v. George, 300 Conn. 59, 79, N.10 (2011)•