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.

Election Law Supreme Court Opinions

by Roy, Christopher


SC20165 - Independent Party of CT—State Central v. Merrill ("This appeal is the latest battle in the war for control over the state's Independent Party between its Danbury faction, which is led by the plaintiffs, the Independent Party of CT—State Central and its officers, Michael Duff, Donna L. LaFrance, and Roger Palanzo, and its Waterbury faction, which is led by two of the defendants, Michael Telesca and Rocco Frank, Jr. The plaintiffs appeal from the judgment of the trial court, rendered after a bench trial, for Telesca and Frank on the complaint and the counterclaim in the present action, which both sought declaratory and injunctive relief. Specifically, the trial court ordered the named defendant, Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill, to accept candidate endorsements made pursuant to the Independent Party's 2010 bylaws (2010 bylaws), which, in effect, gave the Waterbury faction control over the Independent Party's statewide nominations. There are two principal issues among the plaintiffs' plethora of claims in the present appeal. First, we consider whether the trial court's order of supplemental briefing and oral argument concerning its subject matter jurisdiction, issued just prior to the 120 day decision deadline pursuant to General Statutes § 51-183b, and after the plaintiffs' objection to the trial court's request for an extension, preserved its personal jurisdiction over the parties by stopping and later restarting the decision period. The second principal issue is whether the trial court properly determined that General Statutes § 9-374, which requires the filing of party rules before the name of a candidate endorsed by a minor political party may be printed on an election ballot, rendered the 2010 bylaws controlling, as opposed to bylaws that the Danbury faction had filed with the Secretary in 2006 (2006 bylaws) prior to the Independent Party's receiving the 1 percent of statewide votes necessary to confer minor party status. Because we conclude that the order of supplemental briefing and argument opened the 120 day decision period and later restarted it, thus rendering the trial court's decision timely under § 51-183b, and also conclude that the trial court properly construed § 9-374, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.")

SC20160 - Independent Party of CT—State Central v. Merrill ("This writ of error is the companion case to Independent Party of CT—State Central v. Merrill, 330 Conn. ___, ___ A.3d ___ (2019), in which this court affirmed the judgment of the trial court resolving a long running dispute between the Danbury and Waterbury factions of the state's Independent Party by, inter alia, granting declaratory and injunctive relief directing the named defendant in the underlying action, Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill (Secretary), to accept only those endorsements made pursuant to the party's 2010 bylaws. The plaintiffs in error, thirteen candidates for the state House of Representatives endorsed by the Danbury faction prior to the issuance of the trial court's decision in the underlying action, brought this writ of error to protect their rights with respect to the judgment of the trial court. The endorsed candidates now argue that their writ of error is moot given the unchallenged decision of the Secretary to accept the Danbury faction's endorsements with respect to twelve of them, thus allowing them to be on the Independent Party's ballot line for the 2018 election. Rebekah Harriman-Stites, a candidate endorsed by the Waterbury faction for the 106th assembly district, however, has appeared in the present proceeding as a defendant in error and contends that the writ of error is not moot in light of her request that we order the Secretary to print her name on the ballot in accordance with the trial court's decision. Because the writ of error is moot, and Harriman-Stites' separate request for relief is not properly before us, we dismiss this writ of error.")