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Appellate Court to Travel to Waterford

The Connecticut Appellate Court will travel to Waterford High School on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2002, to hear oral arguments in two criminal cases -- the first time in the Court's history that it has heard oral arguments at a local high school.

Attending the oral arguments will be students from a consortium of four high schools -- Waterford, East Lyme, Montville, and New London. The Honorable Barry R. Schaller, the Honorable Thomas A. Bishop, and the Honorable Antoinette L. Dupont will sit on the panel.

The Court's appearance at Waterford High School is part of an ongoing educational initiative of the Connecticut Judicial Branch to acquaint students, educators, and the general public with the role and responsibilities of the court system.

"We believe that providing students with the opportunity to attend oral arguments helps to broaden their understanding of the appellate process in Connecticut," Chief Judge of the Appellate Court William J. Lavery said.

Cameras may be used during a scheduled panel discussion, but not during oral arguments or while the Court is in session.

Attorney Susan Connolly, President of the New London Bar Association, will make a presentation at 10 a.m., followed at 10:15 a.m. with the oral arguments in State of Connecticut vs. Clarence Austin. The panel discussion and question-and-answer session will go from 11-11:30 a.m. At 11:50 a.m., the Appellate Court will hear arguments in State of Connecticut vs. Lamont Thergood.

The first case involves the Fourth Amendment. On Jan. 4, 2000, New Haven police stopped Mr. Austin after witnessing what the officers believed was a drug transaction. During this stop, officers "patted down" Mr. Austin and found drugs.

Mr. Austin maintained that the search of his clothing for drugs violated his constitutional rights against unreasonable search and seizure. He filed a motion to suppress the drugs that police found and had he prevailed, the drugs could not have been used as evidence during his trial. But the judge denied Mr. Austin's motion, and he was found guilty after a trial. Mr. Austin then filed an appeal with the Appellate Court, arguing that the trial judge erred in failing to suppress the drugs.

In the second case, defendant Lamont Thergood gave a written confession to Bridgeport police on March 26, 1999, concerning the murder of Telrence Carter. Police gave Mr. Thergood his Miranda warning around 7 a.m., several hours after officers first stopped him in connection with the murder. Mr. Thergood maintains that the written confession violated his constitutional right against self-incrimination -- first, because he did not understand his rights and was unfamiliar with the criminal justice system, and second, because he claims that the atmosphere of the police station was coercive. Mr. Thergood also argues that he did not voluntarily waive his rights, as police questioned him for several hours before issuing a Miranda warning.

To help the screening process and movement of traffic in and out of Waterford High School, it is recommended that guests not bring laptops, briefcases, backpacks, pocketbooks, or bags.

For information, please contact either Jim Senich or Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, Managers of Communications, at 860-757-2270.


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