Connecticut Judicial Branch
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Meryl Gersz, Deputy Assistant State's Attorney, Appellate Bureau, Office of the Chief State Attorney
Former Law Clerk, Hon. Christine E. Keller, 2019-2020
"The immersive and practical experience of serving as a clerk at the Connecticut Appellate Court improved my writing, research, and citation skills - all of which I use daily in my current position. Moreover, I had the privilege of working closely with a judge who included me in chambers' discussions, carefully reviewed my writing, and, by example, guided me towards becoming a knowledgeable, thorough and thoughtful practitioner."
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Jessica Colombo, Attorney, Motley Rice LLC
Former Law Clerk, Hon. Bethany J. Alvord, 2017-2018
"Working with Judge Alvord, and other members of the Appellate Court, improved my critical thinking and writing, and prepared me to approach complex legal issues in practice. I believe that my clerkship helped me to be a better attorney, and I often look back on that year with gratitude."
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Sam Shapiro, Assistant Attorney General, Office of the Attorney General, General Litigation Section
Former Law Clerk, Hon. Nina F. Elgo, 2021-2022
"My time clerking at the Appellate Court was defined by excellent mentorship-from judges and the permanent law clerks alike. Everyone at the Appellate Court has a wealth of knowledge and experience and is eager to help each class of term law clerks grow as people and attorneys. I am a stronger writer, thinker, coworker, and lawyer thanks to my year at the Appellate Court."
Application Process for the 2024-2025 Court Year
Clerkship applications with the Connecticut Appellate Court should be addressed to the Honorable William H. Bright, Jr., Chief Judge of the Appellate Court, and emailed to: ACLawclerkApplication@connapp.jud.ct.gov.
The following materials must be submitted with your application for a clerkship with the Appellate Court:
Transcripts and letters of recommendation may be emailed separately from the other application materials.
- A cover letter;
- A resume;
- A certified transcript of all grades achieved in law school, including, if available, information about class standing. Unofficial transcripts will be accepted prior to the receipt of the applicant's final grades. Candidates are expected to submit updated transcripts to reflect changes, such as the issuance of new grades and class standing, that occur during the pendency of their clerkship application;
- A writing sample (e.g., brief, memorandum of law, draft judicial opinion, or scholarly piece such as a law journal note). Excerpts from more voluminous samples are welcome;
- At least two letters of recommendation. The letters may be from a faculty member with whom the student has studied, from a clerkship committee, or from a recent employer.
No application should be submitted before Monday, April 24, 2023. Interested persons are encouraged to apply as soon after that date as possible and are expected to supplement their applications with subsequently received grades, class standings and reference letters. All applications must be received no later than Friday, May 26, 2023, at 3:00 p.m.
The judges will review the applications and decide which candidates will be selected for a personal interview in Hartford at the applicant's expense. Interviews for Appellate Court clerkships will take place on Monday, June 26, 2023, and Tuesday, June 27, 2023.
Candidates for clerkships should understand that although they are hired by individual judges, if such judge becomes unavailable due to illness, retirement, or elevation to another court, the clerk will be assigned to work for another judge during the term of their clerkship.
Law clerks generally perform research, write memoranda, review draft opinions, and assist in preparing preliminary draft opinions, but each judge determines what tasks to assign to his or her law clerk.
Law Clerk Qualifications
Applicants should normally expect to graduate in the first third of their class and have demonstrated a substantial proficiency in legal research and writing. Law Review experience, or its equivalent, is highly desirable.
Applicants usually plan to take the Connecticut or other bar examinations during the month of July after they commence their clerkships. This practice is for the convenience of the law clerks. Law clerks are not required to be members of the Bar of Connecticut or any other state.
The judges endorse the principle of affording equal employment opportunities to qualified applicants. The basic qualifications for the position of law clerk are set forth in this notice. It must be emphasized, however, that each judge, in selecting a law clerk, will make an individual decision weighing those credentials that are felt to be most relevant.
Salary and Benefits
The annual salary of each law clerk during the Court Year 2024-2025 is $68,979.81 to be paid semi-monthly. The term of service is for a period of twelve working months starting on Friday, May 31, 2024, and continuing through Friday, June 28, 2024. After their service in June, the new clerks will not report for work again until Tuesday, September 3, 2024. Law clerks may take four personal leave days with pay during their term of service and have a bank of twelve sick days. Otherwise, there are no paid vacation days. Employment will terminate on Thursday, July 31, 2025.
- Adams v. Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co., 215 Conn. App. 428, cert. denied, 345 Conn. 970 (2022)
- Robert Belevich v. Renaissance I, LLC, 207 Conn. App. 119 (2021)
- State of Connecticut v. Stephanie U., 206 Conn. App. 754 (2021), cert denied, 343 Conn. 903 (2022) and 343 Conn. 513 (2022)
Adam v. Aircraft Spruce & Specialty Co., 215 Conn. App. 428, cert. denied, 345 Conn. 970 (2022)
The appeal arises out of an accident involving two eighteen year old students at Colgate University who died when the airplane in which they were flying, piloted by the newly licensed daughter of the defendant, crashed in Morrisville, New York. The plaintiffs, the coadministrators of the estate of their son, who was a passenger on the airplane, brought this action against the defendant, the father of the deceased pilot, sounding in negligence and negligent entrustment. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment. As to the count alleging negligent entrustment, the trial court concluded that the defendant had met his burden of demonstrating that there was no genuine issue of material fact that he lacked the requisite control over the aircraft piloted by his daughter on the day of the crash to be liable under a theory of negligent entrustment. The plaintiffs appealed the summary judgment rendered in favor of the defendant.
On appeal, the Appellate Court considered whether the father of the pilot could be held individually liable on a claim of negligent entrustment because the father facilitated the airplane's rental from an entity operating out of a small airport near Colgate University. More particularly, the court considered whether there were genuine issues of material fact as to whether the father's actions could constitute sufficient control over the airplane, a potentially dangerous instrumentality, so that he could be deemed a supplier or entrustor of that instrumentality under the law regarding negligent entrustment. In its opinion, the Appellate Court first reviewed the elements of a cause of action for negligent entrustment as discussed in Soto v. Bushmaster Firearms International, LLC, 331 Conn. 53, 78-81, 202 A.3d 262, cert. denied sub nom. Remington Arms Co., LLC v. Soto, ___ U.S. ___, 140 S. Ct. 513, 205 L. Ed. 2d 317 (2019), namely, that (1) the defendant has entrusted a potentially dangerous instrumentality to a third person (2) whom the entrustor knows or should know intends or is likely to use the instrumentality in a manner that involves unreasonable risk of physical harm, and (3) such use does in fact cause harm to the entrustee or others. Consistent with §§ 308 and 390 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, and the commentary thereto, the Appellate Court then interpreted the first Soto requirement to require a plaintiff to show that the potentially dangerous instrumentality supplied or entrusted by the defendant was under the control of the defendant at the time possession was transferred.
Applying these principles to the present case, the Appellate Court agreed with the trial court that the defendant was entitled to summary judgment on the count of negligent entrustment because there was no genuine issue of material fact that he lacked the necessary control over the airplane to have "entrusted" it to his daughter. It was undisputed that Richard O. Bargabos, who owned and operated Bargabos Earthworks, Inc., which was doing business as Eagle View Flight, always had possession and control of the airplane prior to it being flown by the defendant's daughter, including on the day of the crash. Accordingly, they, not the defendant, had the right and ability, regardless of any prior dealing or agreement with the defendant, to determine whether the defendant's daughter would be permitted to fly on the day of the crash, in what airplane, and under what restrictions. The defendant did nothing more than facilitate his daughter's access to the airplane, which was not enough to establish control for the purposes of establishing a claim of negligent entrustment.
Robert Belevich v. Renaissance I, LLC, 207 Conn. App. 119 (2021)
The plaintiff, Robert Belevich, an HVAC controls mechanic employed by intervening plaintiff Yale University (collectively, plaintiffs), brought this premises liability action seeking damages for personal injuries sustained when Belevich slipped and fell on untreated ice on premises possessed, controlled, managed, and maintained by the defendants. The trial court granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment based on the ongoing storm doctrine. This doctrine, adopted by the Supreme Court in Kraus v. Newton, 211 Conn. 191 (1989), provides, in relevant part, that, "in the absence of unusual circumstances, a property owner, in fulfilling the duty owed to invitees upon his property to exercise reasonable diligence in removing dangerous accumulations of snow and ice, may await the end of a storm and a reasonable time thereafter before removing ice and snow from outside walks and steps." Id., 197-98.
The plaintiffs appealed from the summary judgment rendered by the trial court in favor of the defendants. On appeal, the Appellate Court considered the application of the ongoing storm doctrine in the context of summary judgment and its attendant burden-shifting. Specifically, the court considered what a movant for summary judgment must demonstrate to satisfy its initial burden when relying on the doctrine and any burden shifting that may follow. Noting the scant authority from other jurisdictions on the issue of the ongoing storm doctrine in the context of summary judgment, the Appellate Court adopted, as a matter of Connecticut common law, the approach taken by the New York Appellate Division in Meyers v. Big Six Towers, Inc., 85 App. Div. 3d 877, 925 N.Y.S.2d 607 (2011). The court in Meyers held that "[a]s the proponent of the motion for summary judgment, the defendant ha[s] to establish, prima facie, that it neither created the snow and ice condition nor had actual or constructive notice of the condition . . . . [T]he defendant [may sustain] this burden by presenting evidence that there was a storm in progress when the plaintiff fell . . . . [Upon the defendant meeting its burden], the burden shift[s] to the plaintiff to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the precipitation from the storm in progress was not the cause of his accident . . . . To do so, the plaintiff [is] required to raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the accident was caused by a slippery condition at the location where the plaintiff fell that existed prior to the storm, as opposed to precipitation from the storm in progress, and that the defendant had actual or constructive notice of the preexisting condition . . . . " (Citations omitted.) Id., 877-78.
Applying these principles to the present case, the Appellate Court concluded that the defendants had satisfied their initial burden to demonstrate that there was no genuine issue of material fact that there was an ongoing storm when Belevich allegedly fell. Accordingly, the burden shifted to the plaintiffs to demonstrate the existence of a genuine issue of fact as to whether Belevich's fall was caused by a slippery condition that existed prior to the ongoing storm and whether the defendants had actual or constructive notice of the allegedly preexisting condition. Because the plaintiffs failed to sustain this burden, the Appellate Court concluded that the trial court properly granted the defendants' motion for summary judgment
State of Connecticut v. Stephanie U., 206 Conn. App. 754 (2021), cert denied, 343 Conn. 903 (2022) and 343 Conn. 904 (2022)
The defendant appealed from her conviction of various offenses in connection with her actions while attempting to pick up her child from day care while allegedly under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs. During cross-examination, the prosecutor asked the defendant whether she had the opportunity to sit in court, listen to the witnesses and figure out what she was going to say. The prosecutor also asked her if she had a lot riding on this case. During the rebuttal portion of her closing argument, the prosecutor pointed out that the defendant was the only witness to have sat in on the testimony of the other witnesses. The prosecutor stated that "[t]he defendant knew what everyone said and had that knowledge when she testified. She has a vested interest in the outcome of this case. And that can also be taken into account when you're deliberating this case." On appeal, the defendant argued that the prosecutor's generic tailoring arguments violated both her right of confrontation and her right to testify on her own behalf.
In its analysis, the court noted that generic tailoring arguments do not violate the federal constitution; see Portuondo v. Agard, 529 U.S. 61, 73, 120 S.Ct. 1119, 146 L. Ed. 2d 47 (2000); but considered the issue previously left open by the Connecticut Supreme Court in State v. Weatherspoon, 332 Conn. 531, 549-50, 212 A.3d 208 (2019), namely, whether the prosecutor's generic tailoring questions and argument violated the defendant's state constitutional rights to confront witnesses and to testify on her own behalf in violation of article first, § 8. Analyzing the factors set forth in State v. Geisler, 222 Conn. 672, 684-85, 610 A.2d 1225 (1992), the Appellate Court concluded that the defendant could not prevail on her claim, as it was not persuaded that article first, § 8 of the state constitution afforded greater protection than its federal counterparts, the fifth and sixth amendments to the United States constitution, on the issue of generic tailoring as to the defendant's right of confrontation and her right to testify on her own behalf.
The Appellate Court, however, exercised its supervisory authority over the administration of justice to prohibit such questions and arguments because they are likely to implicate the perceived fairness of the judicial system and they could give rise to a danger of juror misunderstanding. Recognizing that the line between generic and specific tailoring arguments is not always clear, the court set forth a new procedure to be followed if the state wishes to make a tailoring argument. The new policy provides, in relevant part, that prior to asking questions on cross-examination of the defendant that suggest that the defendant has tailored his or her testimony or before making such comments in closing argument, the prosecutor shall alert the defendant and the court of its intention to do so. If the defendant objects, the court must determine whether the proposed questions or comments constitute generic or specific tailoring. If they constitute specific tailoring because they are tied to specific evidence that gives rise to an inference that the defendant has tailored his or her testimony, the questions or comments, unless otherwise improper, should be permitted. If the court concludes that the questions or comments constitute generic tailoring, they should be prohibited. In addition, to the extent that the court permits a specific tailoring argument to be made, the defendant may request that the court instruct the jury during its final charge that the defendant had an absolute right to be present throughout the entire trial and that the jury may not draw an inference that the defendant's testimony is not credible simply because the defendant was present during the trial. The trial court shall include such a charge in its final charge to the jury if it is requested.
History of the Connecticut Appellate Court
On November 2, 1982, the voters of Connecticut approved a constitutional amendment providing for the establishment of the Connecticut Appellate Court. The legislation implementing the amendment was passed on June 28, 1983, effective July 1, 1983. The state constitution, as amended, provides that the "judicial power of the state shall be vested in a supreme court, an appellate court, a superior court and such lower courts as the General Assembly shall, from time to time, ordain and establish."
Governor William O'Neill appointed the original five judges of the court on August 9, 1983, and the court heard its first cases on October 4, 1983. Currently, there are 9 judges of the Appellate Court, one senior judge, and 12 judge trial referees who sit by designation on the Appellate Court pursuant to General Statutes § 52-434c. These judge trial referees are former Supreme Court justices and Appellate Court judges.
The jurisdiction of the Appellate Court is broad. Basically, every appeal from a final judgment or order that does not by right go to the Supreme Court is filed in the Appellate Court. Generally, appeals brought directly to the Supreme Court involve the validity of constitutional or statutory provisions, election or primary disputes, judicial discipline and criminal convictions involving possible punishment of more than twenty years. Except for any matter brought under its original jurisdiction under the constitution, the Supreme Court may and does transfer cases to the Appellate Court. The Supreme Court also, either on its own initiative or by party motion, may transfer a case from the Appellate Court to its own docket. The only cases over which the Appellate Court has discretionary jurisdiction are land use appeals. In these cases, a petition for certification must be filed and granted by the court by vote of three of its members before an appeal may be filed.
Unlike almost all other federal and state intermediate courts of appeal, the Connecticut Appellate Court hears oral argument on almost every case on its docket. Thus, term clerks have regular opportunities to observe oral argument and regularly serve as the courtroom clerk during oral arguments.