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Connecticut Supreme Court on Tour:
Justices to hear cases at Stamford Judicial District Courthouse

The Connecticut Supreme Court will travel to the Stamford Judicial District Courthouse on Wednesday April 23, 2003, to hear arguments in two cases. In attendance will be students from six Connecticut high schools -- Darien, Greenwich, Norwalk, Stamford, Trinity Catholic, and Westhill. Students from the University of Connecticut Stamford Campus also will be present.

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

"We believe that it's important for the public -- and young people, in particular -- to understand the court system -- what it does, how it does it, and why," Chief Justice William J. Sullivan said. "This visit provides the opportunity for students and members of the public to observe first-hand how the Connecticut Supreme Court works, and we hope that it will be beneficial to all of those who attend."

Prior to oral arguments, members of the Regional Bar Association, Inc. will meet with students in their classrooms to discuss the issues being raised by the appeals and what they can expect in court. Following oral arguments, the attorneys who argue the cases will be invited to take part in a question-and-answer session with the students.

The first case, State of Connecticut vs. Vincent Betances, will begin before the Court at 10 a.m.

At issue in State vs. Betances is whether New Haven police illegally seized evidence from the defendant when they arrested him on June 20, 2000. The defendant, contending that police violated his constitutional rights, argued that the trial judge should suppress 30 bags of heroin seized from Mr. Betances, eight bags of heroin that Mr. Betances threw up while in an ambulance, and his statement to police that he had swallowed heroin. The judge agreed that the statement should not be used, ruling that the defendant had been arrested and interrogated without having received his Miranda warning. However, the judge agreed with the state that none of the bags of heroin had been illegally seized. A jury convicted Betances of narcotics charges and the judge sentenced him to 17 years in prison. The defendant then filed his appeal.

The second case, Albert Janusauskas vs. Richard A. Fichman M.D., will start at 11:45 a.m.

Dr. Fichman performed eye surgery on Mr. Janusauskas in May 1993. Mr. Janusauskas sued in 1997, alleging medical malpractice/lack of informed consent, breach of contract, and a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). The case went before a jury in March 1999, and at the end of the plaintiff's evidence, the defendant moved for a directed verdict on the breach of contract and CUTPA claims. The trial court granted the motion, and the jury considered only the remaining medical malpractice/lack of informed consent claim. Jurors found in the defendant's favor, and the trial court entered judgment for the defendant. The Appellate Court subsequently reversed the trial court's judgment on the breach of contract claim and ordered that a new trial be held on that one count. The Supreme Court granted the defendant permission to appeal the following issue: "Did the Appellate Court properly conclude that the plaintiff was entitled to a new trial on an implied contract theory?" The Supreme Court also granted the plaintiff permission to appeal on this issue: "Did the Appellate Court properly conclude that there was insufficient evidence to support a claim of a CUTPA violation by the defendant?"

Media organizations wishing to bring a camera or recording equipment into the courthouse to cover panel discussions following the oral arguments should fax a request to the External Affairs Division at 860-757-2270. Please include a phone number and fax number with your request. Fax transmissions may be sent at any time of day from the time of the release of this advisory until Monday, April 21, 2003. For further information, please contact the External Affairs Division at 860-757-2270.


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