The mission of the Connecticut Judicial Branch is to serve the interests of justice and the public by resolving matters brought before it in a fair, timely, efficient and open manner.

Administrative Appeal Appellate Court Opinion

by Booth, George


AC37527 - Miller v. Dept. of Agriculture (Appeal of animal disposal orders pursuant to statute (§ 22-358); "The plaintiff, Kim Miller, appeals from the judgment of the Superior Court dismissing her appeal from the final decision of the defendant Department of Agriculture (department), to uphold, pursuant to General Statutes § 22-358, two disposal orders of an animal control officer of the town of Hamden to euthanize the plaintiff's two rottweiler dogs after they attacked the victim, Cynthia Reed. The plaintiff argues that the court erred in dismissing her appeal because the Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture (commissioner), prior to adopting the recommendation of the department hearing officer, Bruce Sherman, to affirm the disposal orders, overlooked "a severe deprivation" of her rights by the hearing officer. The plaintiff claims that the hearing officer violated her constitutional rights to due process and to confront the witnesses against her, acted arbitrarily and capriciously in rendering his proposed final decision, and made his decision upon unlawful procedure. See General Statutes § 4-183 (j) (3) (Superior Court may overturn administrative decision "made upon unlawful procedure"). More specifically, the plaintiff claims that the hearing officer: (1) violated her right under the sixth amendment to the United States constitution to confront the witnesses against her when he allowed the statements of Reed and another witness to the attack, Monique Jones, to be admitted as evidence despite the fact that they did not testify and were not available for cross-examination; (2) improperly forced one of the plaintiff's witnesses to leave the hearing before testifying, thereby depriving the plaintiff of due process; (3) issued a proposed final decision that was made upon unlawful procedure because the department lacked written rules of procedure that applied specifically to hearings on dog disposal orders; and (4) acted arbitrarily and capriciously when he "interjected his opinion" about a substantive matter while questioning a witness for the plaintiff. We affirm the judgment of the trial court dismissing the plaintiff's appeal.")