Skip to main content

Zarella in the Dock

The nomination of Judge Peter Zarella as Chief Justice of Connecticut’s Supreme Court was seriously compromised when retiring Chief Justice William Sullivan held up the publication of a decision the release of which, Sullivan apparently thought, might harm Zarella’s prospects. The case itself meandered through the usual judicial maze before the Supreme Court rendered an en-banc decision that some case information should not be made available to the media through Freedom of Information petitions.

It should be noted that the media does have a dog in this fight. The champions of open government cannot be expected to approve final court decisions that authorize the withholding of information. In calling upon Governor Jodi Rell to nominate someone else – anyone else but Judge Zarella -- for the post of Chief Justice, a Hartford newspaper advised that the governor should promote someone who “has an unwavering commitment to open government.” This is an argument for degrading all the justices who supported the court’s majority decision – not just Zarella. And it is a somewhat contradictory position for an institution to take that would rather have its employees serve time in jail than surrender information concerning reporter’s sources and raw notes to courts that need the information to render just decisions during trials.

Big media recently lauded Senator Chris Dodd for writing a bill exempting reporters from the obligations of ordinary citizens to give relevant and necessary testimony at trial, an extraordinary privilege that should be opposed by the entire judiciary, even though their opposition would not be effective. Judges are not in the position of providing good press for senators, and professional politicians like Dodd certainly know what side their bread is buttered on. Having delivered such a boon to the media, how can anyone trust the grateful recipients of such a favor to report unfavorably on their beneficiary?

Transparency in government should be the general rule; the fear that someone somewhere may be watching is an indispensable aid to truthfulness and integrity in government. But there is no rule on earth, Cardinal John Henry Newman used to say, to which there is not at least one exception, and the quarrel between the Supreme Court majority and the media over a majority decision that Zarella had approved is a quarrel over exceptions. The court decided that some case information could not be made available to the media through petitions filed with the Freedom of Information Council; such information, the court said, could only be made available through suits grounded in First Amendment rights.

This dispute between the media and the court should have no bearing on Sullivan’s inept attempt to shove under the judicial bed Zarella’s favorable vote in a majority opinion. If it can be shown that Zarella conspired with Sullivan to conceal from the legislature important information bearing upon his nomination, his nomination should not go forward. But a favorable vote on Zarella’s nomination should not turn on a decision he supported that did not find favor with newspaper editors and journalists.

Rell’s response to Sullivan’s farcical attempt at politicking is refreshingly sane. The governor has said that Sullivan was wrong. But before Sullivan’s sins are visited upon the heads of possibly blameless jurists, shouldn’t everyone wait until the relevant authorities hear all the facts and make a just determination? Connecticut is not yet the Wonderland of Alice, and none of us is the Queen of Hearts: “First the verdict,” says the imperious queen, “then the trial.”

Those who believe that the only thing the courts have to fear about transparency is the fear of transparency itself certainly have made a strong case. Transparency allows the governed, the final architects of the shape and purpose of our government, to exercise their constitutional franchise. Shady and questionable deals usually are made in shadowy backrooms out of sight of the public. It is an open question how open the judicial department must be to satisfy the demands of democracy without eviscerating the courts and damaging other imprescriptible rights -- the right to a fair trial, for example – provided by the constitution.

A Supreme Court whose decisions are not determinative is a supreme court in name only. If the legislature were to invest the Freedom of Information Council with a power of veto over Supreme Court decisions, where would injured parties turn for justice when the council makes, as it may, a decision that unjustly injures a party involved in a dispute that the council has been called upon to adjudicate? Some Supreme Court justices worry about the answers to such question when they render decisions, and others do not.


The Constitution in Exile, Connecticut.

Judges and other officials need to fear arrests, being handcuffed, fingerprinted, photographed, and hearing the jail cell door slam shut when they think of doing wrong.

The lack of punishments for bad behavior invites bad behavior.

Chief Justice Sullivan needs to be arrested and hauled away in handcuffs in front of his family and neighbors, just like any other citizen that breaks the law.

-Steven G. Erickson aka blogger Vikingas on and
Chief Justice Sullivan needs to be arrested and handcuffed and hauled away in a squad car with the lights flashing in front of his neighbors and family.

Then these justices might pay attention to laws and the Constitution themselves.

The Constitution in Exile, Connecticut, is how it now is.

Officials have no fear of breaking laws and retaliating against whistleblowers, they fear retaliation if they break ranks and actually acting in the publics best interest.

A lawyer that defends his/her client against the wish of the judge can face arrest, disbarment, and prison.

A former State Police Officer had all sorts of unexplained cash, possibly 100’s of thousands of dollars. When faced with being exposed and having to inform on his buddies involved in the same crimes. The officer shot his wife and then himself.

All 3 branches of government in Connecticut are so corrupt they need to be flushed out clean. All departments are equally is bad.

-Steven G. Erickson aka blogger Vikingas


Popular posts from this blog

The Blumenthal Burisma Connection

Steve Hilton, a Fox News commentator who over the weekend had connected some Burisma corruption dots, had this to say about Connecticut U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal’s association with the tangled knot of corruption in Ukraine: “We cross-referenced the Senate co-sponsors of Ed Markey's Ukraine gas bill with the list of Democrats whom Burisma lobbyist, David Leiter, routinely gave money to and found another one -- one of the most sanctimonious of them all, actually -- Sen. Richard Blumenthal."

Dave Walker, Turning Around The Misery Index

Dave Walker, who is running for Lieutenant Governor on the Republican Party ticket, is recognized by most credible political observers as perhaps the most over qualified candidate for Lieutenant Governor in state history.
He is a member of the Accounting Hall of Fame and for ten years was the Comptroller General of the United States. When Mr. Walker talks about budgets, financing and pension viability, people listen.
Mr. Walker is also attuned to fine nuances in political campaigning. He is not running for governor, he says, because he had moved to Connecticut only four years ago and wishes to respect the political pecking order. Very few people in the state think that, were he governor, Mr. Walker would know less about the finance side of government than his budget chief.

Murphy Stumbles

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy has been roughly cuffed by some news outlets, but not by Vox, which published on April 16 a worshipful article on Connecticut’s Junior Senator, “The Senator of State: How Connecticut’s Chris Murphy, a rising Democratic star, would run the world.”
On April 15, The Federalist mentioned Murphy in an article entitled “Sen. Chris Murphy: China And The World Health Organization Did Nothing Wrong. The lede was a blow to Murphy’s solar plexus: “Democratic Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy exonerated China of any wrongdoing over the global pandemic stemming from the novel Wuhan coronavirus on Tuesday.
“’The reason that we’re in the crisis that we are today is not because of anything that China did, is not because of anything the WHO [World Health Organization] did,’ said Murphy during a prime-time interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.”