Connecticut Supreme Court, under the leadership of then-Chief Justice
Ellen A. Peters, decided in 1986 that it wanted to provide the public,
especially students, with a better understanding of the appellate process.
Key to this goal was the recognition that, although the Court’s “home”
courtroom in Hartford was always open, visitors rarely had a full
understanding of what transpired there.
Thus began the Supreme Court On Circuit program, where justices hear cases at other locations, including Judicial District courthouses, colleges and law schools. Over the years, hundreds of students have watched these arguments and participated in a question-and-answer period with the arguing attorneys and moderators following the arguments.
The first Supreme Court On Circuit program occurred on Nov. 5, 1986, in Norwich. Since then, the Supreme Court has traveled to schools and universities throughout the state.
The Supreme Court On Circuit program provides students and members of the
public with the opportunity to observe oral arguments in appellate cases.
Each year, the court selects a location where arguments will be heard.
The program’s goal is simple: To educate students and residents of the state about the role and responsibilities of the appellate system.
Volunteer attorneys often prepare synopses of the assigned appeals and meet with students before the day’s oral arguments to discuss the issues to be argued before the Court. Local bar associations and teaching staff are invaluable during this process, and provide the students with the background they need both to understand the process and the cases that will be argued.
Typically, two cases are argued on the day of the event. After each argument, the attorneys who argued the case usually participate in a question-and-answer session with the students. Volunteer attorneys often work with professors and teachers to facilitate the sessions.
Publishing the opinion takes time because it requires careful analysis of the law. When released, the decision may be accessed through the Advance Release Opinions page on the Judicial Branch website.
These links connect to selected cases that the justices have heard and decided as part of the program.
Once preliminary arrangements have been made, the Court works with the school and the local bar association to arrange for volunteer attorneys to visit the school. The attorneys typically discuss the cases with the students, and provide an overview of the Connecticut court system. The court staff also works with the facilities department at the school to transform the location, for example, the school auditorium, into a courtroom for the day.