Taylor & Sexton is pleased to announce that Attorney Emily Graner Sexton has joined the firm as Of Counsel. Having spent the past six years in the Appellate Bureau of the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, she has argued more than 35 cases to our Appellate Court and Supreme Court. Bringing that wealth of appellate experience with her, she will continue to focus her practice on appeals in criminal, child protection, and civil matters.
On May 31, 2016, the Connecticut Supreme Court released its decision in In re Oreoluwa O. (S.C. 19501), reversing the decisions of both the Appellate Court and the trial court and announcing several important changes in Connecticut law. First, the Supreme Court held that the Department of Children & Families (DCF) still needs to make all reunification efforts that are reasonable even where those efforts are complicated by needing to provide services in foreign countries. In concluding that DCF needed to do more to investigate the medical services that would be available to Oreoluwa in Nigeria, the court appears to suggest, albeit in dicta, that such efforts may require DCF to work with its counterpart in a foreign country or to use non-governmental organizations, e.g., International Social Services—USA Branch, to offer services such as home studies, background checks, and in-depth assessments of relative placement resources, in cross-border reunification cases.
Second, the court explained that it was not improper under the facts of this case for the trial court to consider evidence of post-TPR Petition reunification efforts. This is a departure from prior precedent requiring that a court’s assessment of reasonable efforts be based on pre-TPR Petition evidence. See, e.g., In re Joseph M., Jr., 158 Conn. App. 849, 861 (2015).
Third, the court reiterated that the burden is on DCF to adduce evidence as to why it was reasonable for it not to provide a service to the parent(s) in the first place. Although the court did not explore the relationship between DCF’s burden to demonstrate that the failure to provide a service was reasonable and an appellant’s burden to show that any error was not harmless, the decision nevertheless should be relevant in future cases to rebut any effort by DCF to shift the burden of proving reasonable efforts to the parent.
On May 18, 2016, the Connecticut Supreme Court granted certification to appeal the Appellate Court’s decision in In re Elijah C., 164 Conn. App. 518 (2016). In seeking certification, Attorneys Jay Sexton and Matthew Eagan argued that the state’s failure to comply with orders to continue reunification services should impact its ability to terminate an individual’s parental rights and that the reasonableness of the state’s reunification efforts should be assessed in light of its compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
On May 18, 2016, Attorney Michael Taylor argued In re Raymond B. Jr. (A.C. 38927) to the Appellate Court. At issue was the proper remedy for a parent who is not given the In re Yasiel R. canvass prior to the start of a hearing to terminate her parental rights.
On May 9, 2016, Attorney Matthew Eagan argued In re Danyelah S-C. (A.C. 38710) to the Appellate Court. The appeal challenges a trial court’s decision to deny a mother’s request for new counsel without inquiring why she was making that request in the first place.
On April 11, 2016, Attorney Jay Sexton argued Allen v. Commissioner of Correction (A.C. 36362) to the Appellate Court. At issue is whether the prejudice prong of Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687 (1984), should be presumed satisfied where deficient performance by defense counsel resulted in a structural error.
On April 5-6, 2016, Attorney Michael Taylor served as a faculty member at the CBA Appellate Advocacy Institute, a 2-day continuing legal education program designed to develop and sharpen appellate advocacy skills. Taught by experienced appellate judges and practitioners, the Institute is widely attended by attorneys from throughout the state. Attorney Marina Green attended the Institute as a student.
On April 4, 2016, Attorney Michael Taylor argued In re Natalie S. (A.C. 38655) to the Appellate Court. The case presents an important question of statutory construction governing whether the Department of Children and Families (DCF) is required to provide ongoing reunification services to a mother who is the subject of a neglect petition when her daughter is placed with the child’s father, who lives in a different state, rather than in the care of DCF. In addition, the case questions how thoroughly DCF must investigate an out-of-state parent when the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children does not apply.
Taylor & Sexton is pleased to announce that Ms. Janay Carter has joined our firm as a paralegal. With six years of prior experience as a legal administrative assistant and paralegal, Ms. Carter is a welcome addition to our team.
On March 1, 2016, the Connecticut Supreme Court released its decision in NPC Offices, LLC v. Kowaleski, 320 Conn. 519, 521 (2016). Adopting a broader definition of the term “professional office” in a right-of-way agreement than had the Appellate Court, the Supreme Court reversed and rendered judgment for the appellant. Taylor & Sexton represented the appellant.
On February 29, 2016, Attorney Matthew Eagan argued In re Elijah C. (A.C. 38519) to the Appellate Court. The case involves two important questions of law: First, it explores the degree to which the state’s failure to abide court orders requiring that the state provide ongoing reunification efforts impacts the reasonable efforts analysis that a different court must undertake before terminating a parent’s parental rights. Second, it questions whether the state’s reunification efforts are reasonable when the state fails to utilize service providers that can accommodate a parent’s cognitive disability in accord with ADA requirements.
On February 11, 2016, Attorney Jay Sexton served as a panelist for a Connecticut Bar Association discussion titled “Supervisory Authority and the Connecticut Supreme Court.” A divided court has increasingly relied on its inherent supervisory authority, a power that allows the court to decide cases based on rules that are not required by existing law but are deemed preferable by the court as a matter of policy. The program featured a panel discussion on the history behind this inherent power, the court’s recent use of it, and how its use of this power might impact future cases. Attorney Sexton was joined by Attorneys Wesley Horton and Daniel Klau on the panel, and Attorney Jennifer Miller moderated the event.
On February 3, 2016, Attorney Michael Taylor argued Meribear Productions, Inc. v. Joan Frank Et Al. (A.C. 37507) to the Appellate Court. At issue in the case is whether the Home Solicitation Sales Act applies to contracts for the “staging” of a home to prepare it for sale, whether a single credit card authorization by a non-party to guarantee payment under a contract constitutes sufficient minimum contacts to warrant the exercise of long arm jurisdiction, and whether the trial court properly awarded conversion damages to remedy a breach of contract claim.
On December 9, 2015, Attorney Michael Taylor argued NPC Offices, LLC v. Kowaleski (S.C. 19408) to the Connecticut Supreme Court. The Court is considering whether the termination of a right-of-way was barred by the by doctrine of disproportionate forfeiture and whether the use of the appellant’s premises by its prior owners violated a requirement in the right-of-way that the premises only be used as “professional offices.”
On December 1, 2015, Taylor & Sexton celebrated its 1-year anniversary. During its first year in operation, Taylor & Sexton won three appeals, hired two associates, and acquired new office space in downtown Hartford. As we grow, Taylor & Sexton remains committed to identifying compelling appellate issues, framing those issues in a way that benefits the client and respects the authority of the court and its procedure, and engaging in a written and oral dialogue with the judges or justices that is clear, thorough and compelling. Indeed, those hallmarks of appellate advocacy remain core firm values that we strive to achieve for each of our clients.
Taylor & Sexton is pleased to announce that Attorney Marina L. Green has joined the firm as an associate. A 2014 magna cum laude graduate from Quinnipiac Law School, she successfully argued a case to the Appellate Court during her third year. After graduating, Attorney Green served as an assistant clerk in the Office of the Appellate Clerk.
Taylor & Sexton is pleased to announce its acquisition of new office space in downtown Hartford, on the third floor of the historic McKone Building. Our new address is 363 Main Street, Third Floor, Hartford, CT 06106.
Attorney Michael Taylor argued In re Oreoluwa O., S.C. 19501, before the Connecticut Supreme Court on November 5, 2015. This case involves statutory and constitutional issues related to the various obligations of international parents, the department of children and families, and the Superior Court in cross-border reunification cases. Attorney Taylor can be watched arguing the case here.
On October 29, 2015, the Connecticut Law Tribune published the 2016 Edition of the Encyclopedia of Connecticut Causes of Action, which was co-authored by Attorney Michael Taylor and Attorney Daniel Krisch. This single-volume desk reference compiles all of Connecticut’s civil causes of action, with sections on common law actions, traditional statutory actions, miscellaneous statutory proceedings and administrative appeals. Each entry in the Encyclopedia describes the essential elements of a cause of action, identifies the relevant statute of limitations (if applicable), and has a “Notes” section that discusses key legal principles for that cause of action. This book can be purchased here.
Attorney Jay Sexton argued Doyle Group v. Alaskans For Cuddy, Et Al., A.C. 36900, before the Appellate Court on October 27, 2015. The case presents an important question regarding whether a party waives its right to pursue prejudgment interest when it fails to ensure that claim is actually pending before the court prior to the court rendering an otherwise final judgment.
On August 6, 2015, the Connecticut Supreme Court released its decision in In re Yasiel R. (S.C. 19372), reversing the decisions of both the Appellate Court and the trial court and announcing two significant changes to the law of Connecticut. First, the Court revised the holding of State v. Golding, 213 Conn. 233, 239-40 (1989), to clarify that unpreserved constitutional questions of first impression may be reviewed on appeal. Under the old standard, a constitutional violation had to clearly exist and clearly result in an unfair trial in order for the Court to review it on appeal. (Which meant that if a constitutional claim never had been considered before, the constitutional violation would not clearly exist – because there would be no written decision explaining the constitutional rights involved – and thus might not be reviewable on appeal). Yasiel changed that rule to accommodate issues of first impression, now requiring only that the violation exist and result in an unfair trial, not that it clearly do so.
Second, the Supreme Court employed its inherent supervisory authority to add further protections for parents when the state seeks to terminate their parental rights. Under the Court’s new rule, in all trials to terminate parental rights, the trial court must canvass the parent prior to the start of the proceedings, so that the trial court can be sure the parent understands the scope of the parental rights at issue and the nature of the trial that is about to begin. Specifically, the trial court must be satisfied that the parent understands: (1) the nature of the termination of parental rights proceeding and the legal effect of a judgment terminating parental rights; (2) the parent's right to defend against the accusations; (3) the parent's right to confront and cross-examine witnesses; (4) the parent's right to object to the admission of exhibits; (5) the parent's right to present evidence opposing the allegations; (6) the parent's right to representation by counsel; (7) the parent's right to testify on his or her own behalf; (8) that if the parent does not intend to testify, the court may take an adverse inference from his or her failure to testify, and the significance of that inference; and (9) if the parent does not present any witnesses on his or her behalf, object to exhibits, or cross-examine witnesses, the court will decide the matter based only upon the evidence presented during trial. The Supreme Court’s majority decision can be found here; the first concurrence and dissent can be found here; the second concurrence and dissent can be found here. Taylor & Sexton represented the respondent-parent on appeal.
Attorney Jay Sexton co-presented a seminar on the mature minor doctrine, a legal doctrine that was at the center of the In re Cassandra C. appeal, at the American Bar Association’s National Conference on Children and the Law in Washington D.C. on July 24, 2015.
On July 13, 2015, the Connecticut Appellate Court issued its decision in Anderson v. Commissioner of Correction (A.C. 35846), reversing the decision of the trial court and remanding the case to that court for further proceedings. Anderson, the appellant, had walked out of the courtroom at the start of his habeas corpus trial and the trial judge immediately dismissed his habeas petition, with prejudice. On appeal, the Appellate Court held that the dismissal was an abuse of the trial court’s discretion. Because dismissal with prejudice is a measure of last resort, and because the trial court had several other available options that would have both addressed the appellant’s conduct and served the interests of justice, the Appellate Court held that the trial judge should have imposed a less severe sanction. The Appellate Court’s decision can be found here. Taylor & Sexton represented the appellant.
On June 25, 2015, the Connecticut Supreme Court granted Taylor & Sexton’s petition for certification to appeal the Appellate Court’s decision in In re Oreoluwa O., 157 Conn. 490 (2015). In seeking review, Attorneys Michael Taylor and Jay Sexton requested consideration of both statutory and constitutional issues related to the various obligations of international parents, the department of children and families, and the Superior Court in cross-border reunification cases. The Supreme Court agreed to hear all four questions presented, setting the stage for an important decision that will lie at the intersection of immigration and child protection law.
Taylor & Sexton is pleased to announce that Attorney Matthew C. Eagan has joined the firm as an associate. A recent honors graduate from UConn Law School, Matt spent much of his third year clerking at a top Connecticut appellate firm and argued his first case before the Connecticut Appellate Court.
Attorney Jay Sexton will be a co-presenter at a seminar on the mature minor doctrine at the American Bar Association’s National Conference on Children and the Law in Washington D.C. this July.
Attorney Jay Sexton was a co-presenter at a seminar on Final Judgments & Preserving Issues for Appeal at the Connecticut Child Law Symposium on May 20, 2015.
The Connecticut Appellate Court decided Eigner v. Eigner (A.C. 36556) on May 19, 2015. Attorneys Jay Sexton and Michael Taylor represented the appellee, who won on appeal.
Attorney Michael Taylor argued In re Quidanny L. (A.C. 37383) before the Connecticut Appellate Court on May 11, 2015. The case presents an important opportunity for the court to more precisely define the statutes governing termination of parental rights in Connecticut.
Attorney Jay Sexton argued Eigner v. Eigner (A.C. 36556) before the Connecticut Appellate Court on April 21, 2015.
Attorney Jay Sexton argued Anderson v. Commissioner of Correction (A.C. 35846) before the Connecticut Appellate Court on April 16, 2015. This case concerns significant constitutional and common law rights governing a petitioner’s right to a hearing in a habeas corpus action.
The Connecticut Law Tribune will publish an updated edition of The Encyclopedia of Connecticut Causes of Action, a legal treatise co-authored by Attorney Michael Taylor. The current volume of The Encyclopedia of Connecticut Causes of Action is available here.
Attorney Jay Sexton argued In re Yasiel R., et al. (S.C. 19372) before the Connecticut Supreme Court on February 11, 2015. He argued for an important change in the law of Connecticut, which would require a judge to canvass a parent in a termination case before counsel for the parent can proceed without presenting witnesses for the parent or cross-examining the state’s witnesses.
Attorney Jay Sexton argued Atkins v. Commissioner of Correction (A.C. 35191) before the Connecticut Appellate Court on February 10, 2015.
January 9, 2015--Taylor & Sexton continues to receive media attention for its work in In re Cassandra C., a case that has become an international story in the past week. Attorney Taylor can be watched arguing the case here. Both Attorney Taylor and/or Attorney Sexton are covered in the following stories, amongst others: New York Times; Wall Street Journal; CBS Evening News; NBC News; CNN; WNPR; and the Connecticut Law Tribune.
This case likewise continues to generate a national discussion across various disciplines. NPR interviews a medical expert regarding an adolescent's capacity to make informed medical decisions like the one facing Cassandra here, and Appellate Attorney Dan Klau continues his coverage of the legal issues here. For a comprehensive listing of all news regarding this case, click here.
January 5, 2015 -- Taylor & Sexton receives national and international media attention for its role in In re Cassandra C., a case questioning whether the State can force a mature seventeen year-old woman to undergo chemotherapy against her will where her mother supports her decision to forego such treatment. Click on the name of the following news organizations to follow the story: ABC News; Fox News; Daily Mail; Huffington Post; Hartford Courant; NBC Connecticut; Fox CT; WTNH News 8. This case has also received coverage on various legal blogs, including Holding Court and Appealingly Brief, as well as on bioethics blogs.
December 1, 2014 -- Taylor & Sexton opens its doors with more than sixteen active appeals pending.
November 25, 2014 -- Connecticut Law Tribune covers the formation of Taylor & Sexton. Read the article here.