The Connecticut Appellate Court will travel to
Litchfield High School on Friday, April 30,
2004, to hear oral arguments in two cases Ė one criminal and
one civil. The exact location of the session will be in the
Litchfield Intermediate School auditorium,
located on the high school campus.
Attending the oral arguments will be students from
Litchfield High School. The Honorable Anne C. Dranginis, the Honorable
Thomas G. West and the Honorable Alexandra D. DiPentima will sit on the
The Courtís appearance at Litchfield High School
is part of an ongoing educational initiative of the Connecticut Judicial
Branch to acquaint students, educators, and the general public with the
role and responsibilities of the court system. Prior to the Courtís
visit, members of the Litchfield County Bar Association will visit
Litchfield High School to educate the students about the role of the
Appellate Court and to introduce them to the cases that will be argued.
"We believe that having the students attend
Appellate Court oral arguments assists them in understanding the
appellate process in Connecticut," Chief Judge of the Appellate Court
William J. Lavery said.
Oral arguments in the first case,
Malloy v. Town of Colchester, will
commence at 9:30 a.m. This is a civil matter. On October 23, 1998, the
plaintiff, James Malloy, hit a horse with his motor vehicle and suffered
serious injuries. As a result, Malloy sued the town of Colchester and
various town officials for negligently failing to prevent the horse from
roaming onto the street, despite years of complaints from various
residents about roaming animals, including dogs, pigs, sheep and horses.
The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff and
apportioned liability among the various defendants. The trial judge set
aside the juryís verdict and concluded that the defendants were not
responsible to the plaintiff to prevent roaming horses. Furthermore,
even if the town was responsible, the doctrine of governmental immunity
protected the town and officials from the lawsuit. The plaintiff filed
an appeal to the Appellate Court, arguing primarily that the trial judge
improperly set aside the jury's verdict.
The second case, to be heard at 10:30 a.m., is
State v. Abraham. This case involves
the right to be tried before an impartial jury. The defendant, Matthew
Abraham, was charged with murder and criminal possession of a pistol. On
the fourth day of the trial, one of the jurors was approached by an
individual who had been sitting behind the defendant. This conversation
made the juror feel nervous, and he informed the court that he could no
longer be fair and impartial. He also admitted that he discussed the
incident with the other members of the jury, including the alternates.
This juror was excused from the case.
The defendant moved for a mistrial, claiming that
the remaining jurors could not be fair and impartial after learning
about this incident. After the court and counsel questioned the
remaining jurors and the alternates about their continuing ability to be
fair and impartial, the court denied the defendantís request for a
mistrial. One of the alternates was selected to replace the departed
juror. The defendant now argues the court improperly denied his motion
for a mistrial.
At the conclusion of oral arguments in each case,
attorney Judith Dixon, president of the Litchfield County Bar
Association, will moderate a question and answer session during which
the students will be permitted to ask the lawyers involved in the cases
about their objectives and strategies.
Cameras are permitted during the question and
answer sessions, but not during oral arguments or while the Court is in
To help the screening process and movement of
traffic in and out of the school auditorium, it is recommended that
guests not bring laptops, briefcases, pocketbooks or bags.