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Connecticut Supreme Court on Tour: Justices to Hear Cases at Eastern Connecticut State University

The Connecticut Supreme Court will travel to Eastern Connecticut State University on Wednesday, Oct. 29 to hear arguments in two cases. The visit marks the first time the Justices have held arguments at a Connecticut State University institution.

The Court's appearance at ECSU is part of an ongoing educational initiative of the Connecticut Judicial Branch to introduce students, educators, and the general public to the role and responsibilities of the appellate court system.

"We are excited about the opportunity to visit ECSU and to educate students about our Court," Chief Justice William J. Sullivan said. "We hope that they will walk away with a better understanding of the process -- and perhaps a desire to consider law as a career."

"I am pleased that Eastern has been selected to partner with the Justices of the Supreme Court of Connecticut to increase public understanding of the legal system," ESCU President Dr. David G. Carter said. "Whether you study English, biology, history -- whatever your discipline -- an appreciation of the law will make you a more well-rounded person."

The Court will hear the cases -- one is civil, the other, criminal -- in the Betty R. Tipton Room of the Student Center on ECSU's North Campus. ECSU will video-record both cases, and the tape will be produced as an educational video to inform high school and college students, as well as members of the community, about how the Supreme Court works.

The first case, Mary Ann Jagger vs. Mohawk Mountain Ski Area Inc., et al, will be heard at 10 a.m. The central issue before the Supreme Court is whether a skier can make a negligence claim against a ski area for injuries she suffered after colliding with a ski instructor in December 1999.

The second case, State of Connecticut vs. John Lutters, will start at noon. The defendant, a taxi driver, fatally shot a passenger who stabbed him in the neck while trying to rob him in New Haven on June 15, 2001. Mr. Lutters subsequently was charged with carrying a pistol without a permit. The defendant countered that the taxicab was "a place of business" under state law, which prohibits an individual from carrying a handgun without a permit, except when the person is within his/her dwelling or place of business. A judge dismissed the charge, and the state appealed. The issue before the Supreme Court is whether a taxicab is a "place of business."

After each session, a volunteer attorney and two ECSU professors, Dr. Stacey Close, associate professor of history, and Dr. William Salka, assistant professor of political science, will moderate a question-and-answer period. Lawyers involved in the cases will discuss their objectives and strategies.

News media organizations will be permitted to record, broadcast, televise, and photograph the question-and-answer periods, but are asked to contact Rhonda Stearley-Hebert (860-757-2270) by Monday, Oct. 27. The Court has granted ECSU's request to record the two scheduled oral arguments. If news organizations would like to make pooling arrangements, please contact Dwight Bachman, Public Relations Officer at ECSU, at 860-465-5114.

The following items may not be brought into the courtroom: cellular telephones, pagers, radios, cassette players, CD players, DVD players, televisions, recording devices, cameras, video equipment, boom boxes, bladed or pointed items, weapons, and food and beverages. To help the screening process and movement in and out of the Betty R. Tipton Room, it is recommended that guests not bring briefcases, backpacks, pocketbooks, or bags.

For further information, please contact Rhonda Stearley-Hebert, Manager of Communications for the Connecticut Judicial Branch at 860-757-2270, or Dwight Bachman, Public Relations Officer at ECSU at 860-465-5114.


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