CBF Announces Interim Executive Director

The following appeared in a press release distributed by the Connecticut Bar Foundation:

CBFThe Connecticut Bar Foundation is pleased to announce that Natalie Wagner of West Hartford was named as the foundation’s interim executive director, effective May 28, 2019. Natalie has extensive legal experience in Connecticut’s public and private sectors. Her professional experience includes serving as the legal director to both the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management and State Department of Education as deputy counsel to the Office of Governor Malloy. Subsequently, she represented school districts and educational institutions throughout Connecticut as counsel at Shipman & Goodwin LLP. Natalie has also volunteered her time on numerous professional and community organizations. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College and the University of Connecticut School of Law, Natalie’s wide community reach and professional experience are an excellent fit for the foundation at this critical time in our tenure.

The Connecticut Bar Foundation works to increase access to justice by administering grants to legal services agencies that provide civil representation to those who cannot otherwise afford an attorney. Since 1952, the foundation also serves as an integral part of the legal community in Connecticut, working in partnership with judges, attorneys, and law schools to promote understanding and improvement of the law, legal institutions, and the legal profession.

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Member Spotlight: Dana R. Bucin

On May 16, the Connecticut Law Tribune presented Dana R. Bucin of Murtha Cullina LLP with the 2019 Connecticut Attorney of the Year Award. Awards were also presented to first runner-up Jon Bauer, director of the University of Connecticut School of Law’s Asylum and Human Rights Clinic, and second runner-up Moy Ogilvie of McCarter & English LLP.

Attorney Bucin helped secure the release of two Cuban nationals from Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody last year and has given critical help to clients from around the world in gaining legal immigration status.

“It’s not easy to be an immigration lawyer,” shared Attorney Bucin. “Its fighting hard in the trenches, and in immigration courts across the country, and visiting clients in detention centers, and that takes its emotional toll on you.”

2019 Connecticut Professional Excellence
First runner-up Jon Bauer, Attorney of the Year Dana Bucin, and second runner-up Moy Ogilvie.

Celebrate with the Stars: A Night of Honor and Inspiration

Over 450 guests were in attendance at the sixth annual “Celebrate with the Stars” event on April 11 at the Aqua Turf Club in Plantsville. President Jonathan M. Shapiro began the night by acknowledging the support of the many dignitaries in attendance, including Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Attorney General William M. Tong, and United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut John H. Durham.

The first recognition of the evening was for members of the bar admitted in 1969, who were honored for their 50 years of practice with Half-century pins.

The awards presentation began with The Honorable Anthony V. DeMayo Pro Bono Award. The winners of this award, as selected by the Pro Bono Committee, exhibit commitment to pro bono service and serve as role models for the profession. This year’s winners were: Rebecca L. Ciota, Jennifer L. Hluska, Brittany A. Killian, Jane I. Milas, and Stephanie B. Nickse.

YLS Chair David A. McGrath presented the Young Lawyers Section Vanguard Award to Melanie P. Dykas, who gave a special “thank you” to President Shapiro, crediting him as the one that brought her into the YLS nearly seven years ago. She encouraged attendees to “go home and take a moment to reflect on all the opportunities and the privileges that we’ve all been lucky enough to have to get us here today and try to think of ways to create those opportunities for others.”

A unique distinction for this year, President Shapiro presented Morton N. Katz with the President’s Special Recognition. “In this role as president, you sometimes see something that amazes you in an entirely different way and I had that happen to me this year. Perhaps it’s fitting that we just honored someone from the Young Lawyers Section that we now turn to someone who’s on the opposite end of the career spectrum: Attorney Morton Katz,” stated President Shapiro. Attorney Katz, who turns 100 in May of this year, has been practicing since 1951 and has spent much of his career giving back to others. Along with his recognition, he was presented with a citation from Governor Ned Lamont, which read, in part:

You have earned this distinction by your peers [for] your years of volunteer efforts and advocacy on behalf of the principles you hold dear as an engaged citizen in the legal counsel that you provide as a member of the Connecticut Bar Association to which you admirably provide assistance to veterans. You have given back to your community at large, volunteering for the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs’ Stand Down event, annually. Your dedication to the practice of law is an inspiration to both current and future attorneys.

After dinner, the signature awards were presented by President Jonathan M. Shapiro, President-elect Ndidi N. Moses, and Vice President Amy Lin Meyerson.

The first signature award was presented to Justine C. Rakich-Kelly, the winner of the Charles J. Parker Legal Services Award for her dedication to the delivery of legal services to the disadvantaged in Connecticut, who shared that CBA Past President “Norm Janes [was] my first Legal Aid boss, who introduced me to the Legal Aid community, which is filled with hardworking, committed, and smart people. I am honored to be a part of it.”

The Citizen for the Law Award was presented to the night’s only two non-attorney honorees, Pastor AJ Johnson and Cori Mackey, both from the Christian Activities Council, for their significant contribution to the institution of justice and the law.

Krishna R. Patel was honored with the Citizen of the Law Award for her work as an active strategist, combating human trafficking on the global, national, and state levels for the Grace Farms Foundation.

The Henry J. Naruk Judiciary Award was presented to Hon. William I. Garfinkel of the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut for his substantial contributions to the administration of justice in Connecticut.

President-elect Moses and Immediate Past President DeMeola, former students of Professor Willajeanne F. McLean, presented her with the Tapping Reeve Legal Educator Award for her commitment to legal education in the state. Attorney DeMeola shared moving remarks about her former professor: “As I reflected on tonight, I wanted to honor and recognize what happens when law students and young attorneys see themselves reflected in their leaders. Professor McLean saw us as we were—she taught us, empowered us, influenced us, and inspired us to become our best selves. Representatives of two generations of black lawyers are on this stage and it’s really important because we are, because you are.”

CBA Past President Mark A. Dubois was given the Edward F. Hennessey Professionalism Award for his dedication to the highest ideals and ethical standards of the legal profession throughout his over 40 years in the profession, between his time as Connecticut’s first chief disciplinary counsel, where he established an office that investigated and prosecuted attorney misconduct and the unauthorized practice of law, to his many years as a dedicated teacher to both law students and colleagues.

The John Eldred Shields Distinguished Professional Service Award was bestowed upon Hon. Anne C. Dranginis (Ret.) for her many years of service to the legal community and the community at large. “This professionalism that we all aspire to every day—that we all act upon in a variety of ways—is an important role that we have and we have been given a great opportunity. We have all been given a lot….We are rich in ideas we are rich in what we can give to our communities and we have to keep giving,” stated Judge Dranginis.

The final award of the evening was the Distinguished Public Service Award, given to former attorney general, George C. Jepsen for his significant contributions both as a private citizen and public official on initiatives to eradicate domestic violence and raise awareness about the issues related to domestic violence and its impact on victims and society.  He shared how grateful he was to have worked with all those at the Office of the Attorney General, stating “It has been the experience and honor of a lifetime to serve as state attorney general for the last eight years.”

In addition to their awards, the honorees were presented with citations from Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz, Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill, and Senator Richard L. Blumenthal.

The evening concluded with dessert cordials, along with music, and the third annual “Dancing with the CBA Stars” dance contest.

For more photos from the night’s festivities, view our Facebook album, “Sixth Annual Celebrate with the Stars.”

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The 2019 Celebrate with the Stars award winners.

 

Retired Superior Court Judge Lynda B. Munro Receives 2019 Ladder Award

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2019 Ladder Award Winner Hon. Lynda B. Munro and her colleagues, Hon. Anne C. Dranginis and CBA Past President Livia D. Barndollar (2008-2009), both of Pullman & Comley LLC.

The CBA Women in the Law Section, in association with the CBA Young Lawyers Section (YLS) Women in the Law Committee, honored retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Lynda B. Munro as the 2019 recipient of the Ladder Award at “Pathways to Leadership for Women Lawyers,” held on March 28 at Saint Clements Castle in Portland, CT.

The Ladder Award was created by the YLS Women in the Law Committee in 2007 to honor a woman attorney who has “left the ladder down” for those women to follow in her footsteps. The award is aimed at honoring the efforts of women in the legal profession who have recognized the importance of mentoring and supporting more junior lawyers in their own journeys to success in the profession. Judge Munro has joined a distinguished group of female attorneys, including Former US Attorney for the District of Connecticut Deirdre M. Daly, Justice Maria A. Kahn, Diane W. Whitney, Hon. Anne C. Dranginis, Rosemary Giuliano, and Hon. Elizabeth J. Stewart.

Women in the Law Section Chair Jennifer E. Wheelock welcomed attendees to the inspiring event before introducing keynote speaker, the Honorable Elizabeth A. Bozzuto, who discussed the gender issues in the legal profession, dating back to the 1880s: “Let us be mindful of the fact that women have, and continue to be, the minority group within the legal profession, and we need to recognize, support, and honor those who came before us to make it easier for those of us who follow to achieve great success in the law; Lynda is one of those people.” She believes women have come a long way in the field, but when it comes to equality and civility for women in the legal profession, there is still more to be done.

Judge Munro was introduced by her colleagues Judge Anne C. Dranginis (ret.) and CBA Past President Livia D. Barndollar (2008-2009), both of Pullman & Comley LLC. Attorney Barndollar further explored the ongoing gender issues in the legal profession by citing a study of gender bias in the administration of justice, which was put out by the Task Force on Gender, Justice, and the Courts in 1995. The study reported the statistical growth of women in the legal profession: seven percent (eight out of 112) of Connecticut Superior Court judges were women in 1980, increasing to 15 percent (24 out of 158) by early 1995. Currently, of the 154 Connecticut Superior Court judges, nearly 65 are female. Attorney Barndollar noted that “The CBA has always tried to ensure everyone is treated equally, whatever their gender, identity, race, or age.”

Judge Dranginis reminisced of her time shared with Judge Munro at the Connecticut Superior Court, expressing, “She was never selfish. She always allowed others to join the conversation to help make a better profession and practice.”

A standing ovation escorted Judge Munro to the podium. In acceptance of her award, she asserted the importance of being unconscious role models and mentors to not only help continue to leave the ladder down for young female attorneys, but to help change the world. “Its a crazy, scary world we live in, but if we do these great mentorship activities, I believe we can make the world a better place,” she stated.

For photos of the night’s event, visit our Facebook photo album!

CBA Welcomes New Director of CLE and Section Programming

Thomas A. Genung
CBA Director of CLE and Section Programming Thomas A. Genung

The Connecticut Bar Association is pleased to announce the addition of Attorney Thomas A. Genung as the new director of CLE and section programming as of March 19.

Attorney Genung comes to us from the Florida Judicial Branch, where he served for 12 years as a trial court administrator in the 19th Judicial Circuit. Prior to that he served in the 17th Judicial Circuit in several roles, lastly as general counsel.

He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the CBA, including executive leadership, strategic planning, operations management, education programming, finance and budgeting, civics education, and public information. He received his BS in forestry from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and his JD from the City University of New York School of Law.

“I am honored to join the CBA team, and am committed to working with CBA membership to deliver compelling, thought-provoking, and inspiring continuing legal education to the legal community,” stated Genung.

CT Supreme Court Adapts Policy Regarding Solicitation of Amicus Curiae Briefs

ct judicial branch logoThe Supreme Court has adopted a policy, effective with the eighth term of court, to govern the sua sponte solicitation of briefs of amicus curiae in specific pending cases. Under this new policy, rather than extend invitations to specific organizations, the Supreme Court will publish more generalized amicus invitations in specific cases on a new “Amicus Curiae Invitations” page that will appear under the “Docket/Calendar” tab on the Supreme Court homepage. The questions presented, briefing requirements, submission deadline(s), and any additional information related to the invitation will appear in the posted notice. When the court acts sua sponte to invite the submission of amicus curiae briefs though this invitation policy, the provisions of Practice Book § 67-7 requiring a motion for permission to file are waived.

The Supreme Court will also create an e-mail notification list to alert interested organizations when it has posted a solicitation of briefs on the “Amicus Curiae Invitations” page. When the Court is interested in soliciting amicus briefs in a pending case, a courtesy group e-mail will be sent to the organizations on the list notifying them that an amicus brief invitation has been posted on the Supreme Court’s website. Bar associations and other organizations are strongly encouraged to provide e-mail contact information to the Appellate Clerk at amicuslist@connapp.jud.ct.gov in order ensure their inclusion on this notification list.

Please contact (860)757-2200 with any questions about this policy.

A Message from the CBA President: Proposed Sales Tax on Legal Services

Dear Colleagues:

As you are well aware, Governor Lamont’s budget included a line item of $107 million in revenue for Fiscal Years 2020 and 2021 through the expansion of sales tax on legal services. Business to business will remain exempt from sales tax. I believe we all agree this will be damaging to our clients and our businesses. A hearing on the proposed tax has been scheduled for Friday, March 15, 2019 at the legislature.  This proposal affects us all and we are asking for your assistance in opposing this tax.

We are asking you to contact your State Representative or State Senator to voice your opposition to this proposal.  You can find your legislators HERE.  PLEASE take ten minutes to communicate with your legislators by Wednesday of this week. Since a number of professions are having their exempt status challenged, our goal is to express why legal services are unique from other taxable goods and services.

Here are talking points you can use when you contact your State Representative or State Senator to voice your opposition to this proposal. Please do not just copy and paste. Please choose 2-3 issues and expand. If you are interested in testifying in opposition to the proposal, please contact Bill Chapman at bchapman@ctbar.org so we can coordinate our efforts.

  • 47 states do NOT have a tax on legal services; only New Mexico, South Dakota and Hawaii do—Connecticut should not be the fourth.
  • Two other states, Florida and Massachusetts, passed a sales tax on legal services and within six months that was withdrawn because, as you can imagine, it was both unpopular and an administrative nightmare.
  • It is a “misery” tax. Unlike other goods and services, the purchase of legal services is rarely a choice, but arises out of necessity. Most people seek legal services during times of misery, misfortune, hardship and vulnerability when facing eviction, foreclosure, divorce, domestic violence, end-of-life care, the death of a loved one, bankruptcy, discrimination, criminal charges or injury.
  • It would punish people for taking responsible steps in managing their affairs.
  • A sales tax on legal services will place another barrier to access to justice, and punish those seeking to exercise their right to counsel. Our citizens may choose to forego legal representation and self-represent themselves thereby burdening our courts further.
  • It will violate the attorney-client privilege.
  • It will interfere with a person’s financial ability to defend himself/herself in a criminal case resulting in the Public Defender Offices facing increased demand and increased costs to Connecticut.
  • Any sales tax on legal services would be disproportionately born by our small businesses and our citizens in need.
  • Large multi-state and multi-national businesses doing business in Connecticut will be able to avoid such sales tax by hiring in-house attorneys providing large companies with a competitive advantage in any litigation over our citizens and small businesses.
  • A sales tax on legal services will drive up the cost of legal fees in Connecticut, making Connecticut firms less competitive with firms in other states where a sales tax on legal services does not exist. It would encourage our citizens and businesses to seek legal services from neighboring jurisdictions where the exemption remains and avoid selecting Connecticut as a venue in forum selection clauses resulting in a decline in work for Connecticut lawyers, and, in turn, a loss of jobs for Connecticut lawyers, support staff and support services.
  • It will have a negative effect on the Connecticut legal community creating an administrative burden on law firms, particularly solo and small firm attorneys which represents almost fifty percent (50%) of our attorneys.
  • Attorneys, who already provide extensive pro bono and low bono services to help our citizens access justice, may absorb the costs of the sales tax resulting in lower income tax revenue for Connecticut.
  • The projected tax line item for the governor’s budget is over zealous.

Please identify yourself as a constituent and take a few of these points and share your concerns with your State Representative and State Senator.

Thanks you for your support of our profession.

Jonathan M. Shapiro 2018

 

 

 

Jonathan M. Shapiro
CBA President