Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s 18-member Commission on Judicial Reform met for the first time Thursday to receive it’s assignment, which will be due one month after Supreme Court Justice David Borden’s task force reports its findings on access to the judicial branch. How is Rell’s commission different from Borden’s judicial access task force?
Rell said the two groups are not in competition with each other. She said having two groups look at access to the court and its records is good because it will allow for a broader perspective of the issues. Click here to read the story on Borden’s judicial task force meeting. “People want to continue to believe in an open, fair, and transparent judicial branch,” she said. “It’s there to serve the public and I don’t think that’s the feeling the public has at the moment.” She asked the commission to look at Borden’s task force recommendations due in September. She said the commission may come up with similar recommendations and it may come up with different recommendations, but should look at the task force report and either enhance or disregard its recommendations. Hartford lawyer Thomas Groark who Rell asked to chair the commission opined that its mission was much broader than that of the task force chaired by Supreme Court Justice Richard Palmer. Rell asked the commission to look at access to the court and its records with a bias toward transparency, accessibility, and accountability. She said she wants the commission to look at what’s open now and what’s closed and debate whether it should be opened or remain closed and why. Judge Christine Keller, said a lot of the sealing of documents, such as educational records and hospital records, are statutorily mandated practices that don’t appear in the practice book. The commission also brought up the separation of powers in its discussions Thursday. The discussion lead to individuals on the commission volunteering to research which of the rules to access were created by legislation and which are from the practice book written by a panel of judges. The commission’s next meeting will be held June 21.