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What Happens After Oral Argument

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The court hears three or four different cases on each day on which oral arguments are scheduled. After theoral speech oral arguments have been finished, the court meets, in its conference room, to reach a preliminary decision about the outcome of each case. When the justices disagree, the greater number becomes the majority of the court on that case. After all the cases in each session of the court have been heard and discussed, the Chief Justice assigns each case to one of the justices in the majority to prepare a draft opinion.

For each of his or her assigned cases, the justice reads the record of earlier proceedings and researches the law of Connecticut and often of other states, as well. Preparing a draft opinion takes time because it requires careful analysis of the law and the facts and preparation of a persuasive written document for the court and the parties. Sometimes, work on a draft opinion persuades the justice that the case should have a different outcome than that voted at the initial conference. In that event, the case will be discussed again at another court conference. The court may then vote to change the outcome.

Once the proposed outcome of a case is finally determined, a draft opinion is prepared and circulated for extensive comments by the other justices who heard the case. A justice who agrees with the outcome, but not with the analysis of the majority opinion, writes a separate concurring opinion. A justice who disagrees with the outcome, in whole or in part, writes a separate dissenting opinion. A final opinion for the court is voted at a court conference after all the opinions have been circulated and agreed upon. The majority opinion and the separate opinions are then sent to the Reporter of Judicial Decisions. The reporter checks the opinions for technical accuracy, and sees to their printing in the Connecticut Law Journal. When the opinions are finalized, the parties receive notification of the result and the opinion is then published on the Judicial Branch website as an Advanced Release Opinion. Within the next two weeks, the opinions are published in the Connecticut Law Journal by the Commission on Official Legal Publications.

A party that disagrees with the judgment of the Supreme Court may file a motion for reargument or for reargument en banc. If that motion is denied, the party can seek permission to file an appeal in the Supreme Court of the United States, but only if the case involves an issue of federal law. On questions of state law, a decision of this court cannot be further appealed. The legislature is always free, however, to change the applicable law within constitutional limits.

 

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