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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 15, 2000


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Connecticut Supreme Court to Hold Sessions at Coast Guard Academy

HARTFORD The Connecticut Supreme Court will travel to Coast Guard Academy in New London on Friday, September 22nd, to hear oral arguments for two cases. One case raises the question of whether corporate officers can be held personally liable for pollution caused by a corporation. The other concerns whether a prisoner has a constitutional right to the assistance of counsel in connection with the filing of a petition for certification to the Supreme Court.

The hearings will be held at the Coast Guard Academy in Leamy Hall. Students from the Academy, Mitchell College, Connecticut College and Three Rivers Community-Technical College will attend as well as those from various high schools in the Greater New London area. The public is welcome. Leamy Hall will open at 9:15 a.m. and the morning session begins at 10:30.

"We believe that providing the community the opportunity to attend oral arguments helps broaden our citizens’ understanding of the legal system," said Chief Justice Francis M. McDonald, Jr. "Observing the legal process promotes public trust and confidence in the judicial system by highlighting the role of the Justices in preserving and protecting Constitutional rights."

The Court’s appearance at the Coast Guard Academy 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. The Supreme Court first established the outreach effort in 1986.

"Connecticut is full of learning opportunities, and the Coast Guard Academy is honored and eager to welcome the Connecticut State Supreme Court. This is truly a unique opportunity for our cadets and other local students to see the Judicial Branch of government in action," said Academy Superintendent Rear Admiral Douglas H. Teeson.

Oral arguments in Gipson v. Commissioner of Corrections begin at 10:30 a.m. Attorney Karen Staib, a former Supreme Court Law Clerk, will hold pre-argument discussions at 9:45 a.m., then moderate post-argument discussions at 11:30 a.m. with the attorneys who have argued the case. Oral arguments in BEC Corporation et al v. Department of Environmental Protection will begin at 2 p.m. Attorney Paul Narducci, a former Supreme Court Law Clerk, will lead pre-argument discussions at 1:30, then moderate post-argument discussions at 3 p.m. with attorneys who have argued the case.

"It is truly an honor that the Supreme Court will hear arguments at the Coast Guard Academy," said Cmdr. Mark Higgins, Professor of Law at the Academy. "This provides an outstanding opportunity for the students to better understand the appellate process and appreciate its role in our legal system." At 4 p.m., following the day’s sessions, Chief Justice McDonald will be the Reviewing Official for a formal review of the Corps of Cadets on Washington Parade. The Associate Justices and other dignitaries will join him on the reviewing stand. These parades are held every Friday in the Fall and Spring, weather permitting, and are always open to the public.

Previous locations have included Yale Law School, the University of Connecticut School of Law, Quinnipiac College School of Law, Connecticut College, the University of Connecticut in Storrs and Wesleyan University.

In Gipson v. Commissioner of Corrections, Gipson was convicted of first-degree robbery. His conviction was upheld by the Appellate Court. From prison, Gipson sought habeas corpus relief on the ground that the attorney who represented him in his appeal to the Appellate Court did not file a petition for certification to the Supreme Court for him and did not tell him that he could file one himself. The trial court denied him habeas corpus relief. The Appellate Court agreed with the trial court, concluding that a prisoner has no constitutional right to the assistance of appellate counsel in connection with a petition for certification. The Supreme Court will decide whether the Appellate Court ruled correctly.

In BEC Corporation et al v. Department of Environmental Protection, the department found that BEC, which operates an oil storage and distribution business, had released significant amounts of oil into the state’s waters over a 28-year period. The department also found that BEC’s president and vice president were personally liable for this pollution because they had authorized the activities that caused the release of the oil. BEC, on appeal, argues that the officers should not be held personally liable because the evidence does not show that they directly supervised the activities that caused the pollution. The Supreme Court will determine whether the officers should be held personally liable.

To assist in expediting the screening process and to facilitate the flow of traffic in and out of Leamy Hall, it is recommended that guests not bring laptops, briefcases, backpacks, pocketbooks or bags with them. No cameras or recording devices will be allowed and, when the Supreme Court is in session, no caps or hats may be worn inside Leamy Hall.

For information contact Ginny Apple, Manager of Communications, State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, at 860-757-2270 or LTJG Jennifer Hall, Coast Guard Academy Public Affairs Officer, at 860-444-8685.

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