ERNEST FRANCIS v. JOHN W. FONFARA et al., SC 18480
Judicial District of Hartford
Writ of Error; Whether General Statutes § 52-261 (a) (2) Allows State Marshals to Charge Fee for Copies They did not Make; Whether § 1-2z is Unconstitutional as Violating Separation of Powers Doctrine. The plaintiff brought this declaratory judgment action against 185 state legislators. State marshal Lisa H. Stevenson effected service of process on the defendants by leaving process for all of the defendants with an associate attorney general. The plaintiff sought and was granted a waiver of certain fees, including the state marshal's fee. Because the state is responsible for paying the state marshal's fee when a fee waiver is granted, Stevenson submitted an invoice claiming, among other things, $900 for copies in connection with her service of process. General Statutes § 52-261 (a) (2) provides that process servers shall be paid "for copies of writs and complaints, exclusive of endorsements, one dollar per page, not to exceed a total amount of nine hundred dollars in any particular matter . . . ." At the hearing on the matter, the plaintiff testified that his son, and not Stevenson, made the copies. Stevenson acknowledged that she did not make copies of the documents and stated that she interprets the language of the statute to mean that she may receive the fee for reviewing the copies to ensure accuracy. The trial court found that the language of § 52-261 (a) (2) does not support Stevenson's interpretation and that it is implicit in the statutory language that a state marshal would need to make the copies in order to be entitled to the fees. The trial court, accordingly, denied Stevenson's request for fees for copies. Stevenson filed this writ of error challenging the decision. Stevenson claims that the meaning of the statute is ambiguous and that the legislative history of the statute shows that the legislature intended to allow state marshals to charge a fee for copies even if they did not personally make them. Stevenson also challenges the constitutionality of General Statutes § 1-2z, which prohibits courts from considering the extratextual source of the meaning of a statute when the language of the statute is unambiguous on its face. Stevenson claims that § 1-2z is unconstitutional as violating the separation of powers doctrine because it allows the legislature to both write the law and tell the courts how the law should be interpreted.