Top Connecticut court cases in 2018 involve Newtown, Skakel
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The Connecticut Supreme Court is expected to issue decisions and hear arguments in a variety of notable cases in 2018, including a newspaper’s quest for documents that belonged to the Newtown school shooter and Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel’s appeal of his murder conviction.
Justices are scheduled to reconvene to hear cases from Jan. 16 to 18, followed by session that begins Feb. 20.
A look at some of the cases pending before the court:
NEWTOWN SHOOTER’S BELONGINGS
The Hartford Courant and the state Freedom of Information Commission are appealing a decision by a lower court judge, who ruled in April that state police don’t have to release documents that belonged to shooter Adam Lanza. The commission had ordered state police to release the documents.
The 20-year-old Lanza shot his mother to death at their Newtown home before killing 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14, 2012. He killed himself as police arrived at the school.
The materials requested by the Courant include a spreadsheet ranking mass murders and a notebook titled “The Big Book of Granny,” which contains a story Lanza wrote in fifth grade about a woman who has a gun in her cane and shoots people and another character who likes hurting people, especially children.
Lawyers in the case did not return messages seeking comment. Andrew Julien, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Courant, declined to comment.
The Supreme Court has not set a date for arguments.
KENNEDY COUSIN’S APPEAL
Michael Skakel, a nephew of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, Ethel Kennedy, is waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on his request to reconsider its December 2016 decision to reinstate his murder conviction.
Skakel was convicted in 2002 of murder in the bludgeoning of Martha Moxley in their wealthy Greenwich neighborhood in 1975, when they were both teenagers. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison, but was freed on bail in 2013 after a lower court granted him a new trial because of mistakes made by his trial lawyer.
But the Supreme Court overturned the decision in a 4-3 ruling, saying Skakel’s trial lawyer, Michael Sherman, provided an adequate defense.
Skakel remains free on $1.2 million bail.
STATE AID FOR EDUCATION
The court is crafting a ruling on whether to uphold or overturn a judge’s landmark ruling in 2016 that declared Connecticut’s system for funding its public schools unconstitutional.
Justices heard arguments in the state’s appeal of the ruling in September. It’s not clear when the decision will be issued.
Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ordered state officials to develop plans for an overhaul of the state’s public education system and to revamp the formula for providing education aid to municipalities, saying a huge gap in test scores between students in rich and poor towns shows parts of the system are unconstitutional.
JUDGE THREATS CASE
On Jan. 17, justices are scheduled to hear the appeal of Cromwell resident Edward Taupier, who was sentenced to 1 ½ years behind bars in 2015 for allegedly threatening violence against a family court judge who presided over his divorce case.
Prosecutors said Taupier sent an email to several people that threatened Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Bozzuto, who did not receive the email. The email described Bozzuto’s home, its proximity to a cemetery and how certain rifles can be fired from that distance.
Authorities seized 15 firearms and more than 10,000 rounds of ammunition from Taupier’s home.
Taupier argues his writing was protected by free speech rights.