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Testimony of Judge Barbara M. Quinn Chief Court Administrator
Judiciary Committee Public Hearing - March 26, 2009

Senate Bill 535, An Act Requiring Training for State Judges regarding the Criminal Use of Computers

The Judicial Branch opposes Senate Bill 535, An Act Requiring Training for State Judges Regarding the Criminal Use of Computers, which would require all Connecticut judges to attend a course on computer crimes each and every year.

The Judicial Branch provides a comprehensive education program for superior court judges. Each year, the Branch presents a full education program in June at the Connecticut Judges' Institute. An Education Committee, consisting of judges, reviews proposed topics and recommends courses to the Chief Court Administrator for presentation to the trial bench. Additional educational opportunities are offered throughout the year. The Judicial Branch does not support legislatively mandated courses because they use resources that are needed to address other critical issues. What is a hot topic one year may not be in the future. A legislative mandate that a certain topic be addressed each and every year forevermore does not take into account the need for flexibility to address other topics that may become particularly relevant.

The intersection of science and technology and the law is a theme that has been addressed in a number of course, as judges are often called upon to determine the admissibility of expert testimony regarding scientific issues such as the technological capacities of computers or to determine when the court should obtain its own expert in a matter. This April judges will have the opportunity to attend a course regarding search and seizure of digital information. The course approaches the science of digital information from the perspective of Fourth Amendment protections regarding search and seizure. Another scientific topic will be addressed in Junes at the annual Connecticut Judges Institute, where a course will be offered on child development. The course will focus on the development of the brain following trauma and the legal issues impacted by these factors, especially in the Juvenile Division.

The Judicial Branch is committed to providing educational and training opportunities to the trial bench regarding relevant topics each year, even during times of financial crisis. However, we do not believe that the Legislature is in the best position to determine which topics should be addressed. For this reason, we respectfully request that the Committee not act favorably on this proposal.

Thank you for your consideration.


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