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A Celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Supreme Court
and State Library Building
(Part 2 - Old Judiciary Room in State Capitol)
By Judge Henry S. Cohn

Supreme Court Justices walk to State CapitolThe next oral argument was held at the Old Judiciary Room of the State Capitol, 210 Capitol Avenue, third floor. At 11:45 a.m., Central Connecticut State University, Professor of History, Matthew Warshauer addressed the significant cases decided by the Supreme Court while sitting there from 1878 to 1911. Professor Warshauer spoke specifically about two cases–In re Mary Hall, 50 Conn. 131 (1882), the first case in the United States decided by an appellate court where a woman won the right to practice law, and State ex rel. Morris v. Bulkeley, 61 Conn. 287 (1891), refusing to decide who won the 1890 election for governor. Another significant case argued here was Norwalk Street Ry. Co.’s Appeal, 69 Conn. 576 (1897) holding that each branch of government has only those powers granted by the state constitution. This holding was one of the reasons that the Supreme Court decided to move to its own building, and separate itself physically from the General Assembly, the Legislative Branch. View display posterOld Judiciary Room in the State Capitol

The Court commenced its oral argument at noon, hearing the case of State v. Campbell, SC 18453, on certification from 116 Conn. App. 440, affirming a Fairfield Superior Court criminal proceeding, Docket No. FBT-CR06-0213890, a conviction after a jury trial. The appellant, Andre Campbell, was represented by Lisa J. Steele, a Special Public Defender and the State was represented by Adam E. Mattei, a Special Deputy Assistant State’s Attorney. The Chief Justice thanked the Legislative leaders for their assistance in making arrangements. View CT-N Video

The issue raised in the Campbell appeal arose after a fight where Campbell was charged with carrying a dangerous weapon, a switch blade knife. The fight took place in the hallway of a college dormitory. The parties agreed that the charge of carrying a dangerous weapon does not apply to weapons in one’s own residence. Campbell was convicted, but appealed arguing that the Trial Judge merely told the jury to Photos from Old Judiciary Room - click to see largerdecide whether Campbell had the weapon in the hallway or in his room. See State v. Sealy, 208 Conn. 689 (1988). Campbell argued that the Trial Judge’s charge should have had raised more factual nuances to the jury–such as whether the common hallway was open to the general public and whether the hallway provided access to a bathroom, kitchen or other area necessary to life.

The attorneys remained to talk to the audience, mostly consisting of students from Hartford’s Classical Magnet School, with teacher Attorney Jeffrey Hoberman. Before the attorneys answered questions, they were addressed by the President of the Connecticut Supreme Court Historical Society, Attorney Wesley Horton. He explained that the Classical Magnet School had come into existence because of the litigation in Sheff v. O’Neill, 238 Conn. 1 (1996) holding that de facto racial segregation in the Hartford metropolitan area public schools violated the rights of children in such towns to an equal educational opportunity.

The attorney for Campbell gave some information about her client and where he stands in his college career. She also discussed various types of weapons that might be considered dangerous and the rules, drawn from privacy concerns, about the legality of having such weapons in one’s home. As with the prior argument, the students were interested in how the attorneys in an oral argument handle questions posed by the court.


Supreme Court Courtroom (Part 3) >>


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