Judicial District of New Britain


     Subject Matter Jurisdiction; Whether the Declaratory Ruling by the Psychiatric Security Review Board was an Appealable Order Pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-597 (a).  The plaintiffs, Roy Sastrom and Guy Levine, were acquitted of criminal charges by reason of mental disease or defect and were ordered confined to a maximum security mental health facility.  They separately petitioned the psychiatric security review board (PSRB) for a declaratory ruling pursuant to General Statutes § 4-176 and § 17a-581-58 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies (regulations) as to whether they met the standard for confinement in a maximum security facility provided for in General Statutes § 17a-599, namely, "whether the acquittee is so violent as to require confinement under conditions of maximum security."  In addition, they sought a determination as to whether § 17a-581-44 of the regulations, which provides in part that "[t]he Board may order a person confined in a maximum security setting if the Board finds that the acquittee poses a danger to self or others," was invalid because it conflicted with the specific violence requirement of § 17a-599.  Following hearings, the PSRB determined that Sastrom could be treated in a less restrictive setting and that Levine required confinement within a maximum security facility.  The PSRB also declared, with respect to each petition, that the section of the regulations at issue did not conflict with § 17a-599.  Thereafter, the plaintiffs appealed.  The trial court dismissed both appeals for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, concluding that, pursuant to Dyous v. Psychiatric Security Review Board, 264 Conn. 766 (2003), the decisions being appealed were not within the exclusive list of appealable orders set forth in the relevant statute, General Statutes § 17a-597.  In other words, they were neither orders of the board concerning conditional release and confinement orders pursuant to subdivision (2) or (3) of General Statutes § 17a-584 nor temporary leave orders pursuant to General Statutes § 17a-587.  In so deciding, the court rejected their claims that their cases were distinguishable from Dyous, wherein the plaintiff had challenged a decision of the board, made pursuant to § 17a-599, transferring him back to a maximum security facility.  The plaintiffs then appealed to the Appellate Court (100 Conn. App. 212 and 100 Conn. App. 224), which affirmed the judgments of dismissal.  In concluding that the declaratory rulings could not be appealed, the court rejected the plaintiffs' argument that their cases were not controlled by Dyous because they involved the pure question of law of whether § 17a-581-44 of the regulations  conflicts with § 17a-599.  The court also determined that General Statutes §§ 4-176 and 4-183 and § 17a-581-58 of the regulations, taken together, do not permit an appeal from every declaratory ruling, but only from those rulings that meet the conditions of § 17a-597.  This court will now consider whether the Appellate Court properly affirmed the judgments of the trial court.