The Connecticut Supreme Court On Circuit At Trinity College

By Brendan W. Clark ’21                                                                                            


The Justices sit en banc for oral arguments at Trinity College as part of their On Circuit program. Nick Caito photo courtesy of Trinity College Communications Office

On Wednesday, October 17, the Supreme Court of the State of Connecticut visited Trinity College and heard two cases as part of their On Circuit program. The event was sponsored by the Public Policy and Law Department, the Political Science Department, the Pre-Law Society, and the Trinity Mock Trial Team. This was the first time that the Court has visited Trinity and was especially significant as two Trinity alumni serve on the Court: Associate Justice Richard “Dick” Palmer ”72 and Senior Associate Justice Christine S. Vertefeuille ’72. The hearings offered students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to witness the appellate process in action and Public Policy and Law students, among others, had an opportunity to question the litigators after the arguments.

The first case, State of Connecticut v. Jean Jacques, SC 19783, was argued by S. Max Simmons on behalf of Jacques and David Smith on behalf of the State of Connecticut. This case concerned the admissibility of evidence, viz. a bag containing drugs and the victim’s cellular telephone, that Simmons argued had allegedly been obtained without a search warrant of Jacques’ apartment. Jacques was found guilty of this 2015 murder in Norwich, Connecticut by the district court.

Smith, on behalf of the State, contended that because Jacques’ lease had expired several days before and his landlord had consented to the search, a warrant was not necessary. Further, Smith argued that Jacques had forfeited his right to a reasonable expectation of privacy under the Fourth Amendment as he had “abandoned” the property in question. Simmons, on behalf of Jacques, argued that the State had failed to demonstrate an intent to abandon the property. Thus, the search was warrantless and in violation of Fourth Amendment protections.

The justices were particularly concerned in this case with Connecticut housing law and in defining what constitutes “abandonment” under the law. Both attorneys conceded that they had limited knowledge of housing regulations in the state, but nevertheless attempted to navigate the law’s complexities. Justices noted that parolees, as Jacques was at the time, generally have a lesser expectation of privacy. Conversely, other justices noted that Connecticut housing law allows for a “grace period” in payments and that, with that period considered, the search was several days early and, thus, potentially contrary to Fourth Amendment protections. The State opted not to argue the typical response that, even if the evidence were obtained illegally, the conviction should still stand under the doctrine of harmless error.

The audience waits in anticipation of the first oral argument, State of Connecticut v. Jean Jacques. Nick Caito photo courtesy of Trinity College Communications Office

The second case, Austin Haughwout v. Laura Tordenti et al., SC 20076, was argued by Mario Cerame on behalf of Haughwout and Ralph Urban on behalf of the Office of the Connecticut Attorney General. This case dealt with the following series of remarks made by Haughwout, a former student at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU): “(1) made hand gestures as if he was aiming a gun and shooting at other students, (2) wondered aloud how many rounds he would need to shoot people at the school, (3) mentioned that he had bullets at his home and in his vehicle, (4) showed pictures of guns he owned and bragged about bringing a gun to school, (5) named a particular student as his ‘number one target,’ (6) made reference to a shooting at an Oregon community college where several students had been killed and stated that the Oregon shooting had ‘beat us,’ and (7) stated during a testing of the school’s alarm system that ‘someone should really shoot up the school for real so it’s not a drill.'” Haughwout was subsequently suspended, after appearing before a review panel, from CCSU for the aforesaid statements.

Cerame began his arguments by disputing that Haughwout ever made the remarks, a contention that was promptly dismissed by the justices, who noted that they had before them the findings of fact discerned by the previous judge. Cerame argued that the statements do not rise to the level of a “true threat” and contended that Haughwout was within his rights to make the statement. Cerame also dismissed that the school had any right to take punitive actions against Haughwout for his statements. Several justices found disagreed with Cerame’s contention that the school could take no action against Haughwout for his remarks.

Urban argued, based upon the totality of the statements, that they amounted to a “true threat” and thus constituted an exception to the First Amendment freedom of speech protections. The justices challenged both Cerame and Urban, questioning how the Court should best evaluate each statement. Urban argued that the statements must be taken in their “totality” and when this is considered, that they constitute a “true threat,” whereas Justice Andrew McDonald expressed dissent with this line of argument.

The justices also challenged Cerame on the notion that Haughwout had every right to make these statements, even in the context of a college. Justice Steven Ecker raised concern with how Haughwout targeted individual students and also highlighted the importance of the fact that students both live and work on a college campus, which makes the environment in which the speech occurs markedly different. The Court seemed to struggle most with the fact that there has not been considerable litigation around the nexus of “true threats” and college campuses at both the state and the federal level.

The decisions in both of these cases will be available for review at the Court’s website at the end of the term.

The current justices of the Supreme Court of the State of Connecticut. Seated, Left to Right: Justice Richard N. Palmer, Chief Justice Richard A. Robinson, Justice Andrew J. McDonald. Standing, Left to Right: Senior Justice Christine S. Vertefeuille, Justice Maria Araujo Kahn, Justice Gregory T. D’Auria Justice Raheem L. Mullins and Justice Steven D. Ecker. Photo courtesy of the Connecticut Supreme Court.


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Fundamentals Visits the American Museum of Tort Law

Caila French, Emma Buckley, Jessica Jones, and Marshal Cohen pose for a selfie in front of the American Museum of Tort Law Photo courtesy of Marshal Cohen

By Brendan W. Clark ’21                                                                                            


Professor of the Practice Glenn Falk and his Fundamentals of American Law class visited the American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted, Connecticut on Wednesday, October 10, 2018.

The museum, founded by Ralph Nader in his hometown, “educates and inspires people about the benefits of trial by jury and tort law,” according to their pamphlet. Tort law, says Nader in “Suing for Justice,” evolved from medieval English law and later grew because of “millions of actors and judicial decisions that proceeded in small but steady advances” (57). Nader then traced some decisions of note and the efforts by many, from insurance companies to the pharmaceutical industry. Ultimately, Nader highlights the imperative nature of the “marvelous right to trial by jury,” which, as he posits, “requires a most robust defense.” You can read more about tort law and its varied history by reading Nader’s article here.

Black’s Law Dictionary defines a tort as “a civil wrong, other than a breach of contract, for which a remedy may be obtained, usually in the form of damages; a breach of a duty that the law imposes on persons who stand in a particular relation to one another.”

The museum has been prasied by many, with The Washington Post remarking that the museum “reminds visitors how unhealthy American lives were not so long ago” and Politico calling it “fun, creative, visually stunning and provocative.”

But more important than the opinions of national news, attorneys, or even Black’s, were the reactions and thoughts of the students themselves. The Policy Voice spoke with some of them and this is what they had to say about the museum and the lessons it imparts:

“Going to the American Museum of Tort Law I think was a great experience for everyone who got to go. Before going, I had no idea what tort law was, so I was very excited to get to learn about something new. The staff was very passionate about torts and they were very excited to see a group of Trinity College students who were learning about torts in class visit the museum. Also, I had no idea how you could make a museum about torts interesting, but there were many props and cartoons that made the learning fun and interactive.”–Emma Buckley ’21

“The American Museum of Tort Law was a great way to experience tort law in a more engaging way. The museum was effective in that it really helped to bring to reality what is largely a theoretical concept, particularly for students just starting to explore law related topics. I especially enjoyed how the museum used real cases from history to explain tort law. I found it really interesting how the museum was able to use these historical tort law cases to demonstrate the effects they still have today. I found the experience both educational and interesting. I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in law!”–Carla Concha ’19

“As someone who has been oddly obsessed with crime my entire life, I saw myself going into criminal law. I’ve always wanted to represent the underrepresented, and protect people from our country’s habit of throwing people, most often poorer people, in jail and throwing out the key. After visiting the Tort Museum, for Professor Falk’s class, I realized there may be other ways to represent the underrepresented. I had the preconceived idea that tort law was just lawsuits filed for money. After learning about some of the greatest examples of how tort law has made a difference for huge groups of people, my mind was opened. I learned that these lawsuits are not only about seeking financial reparations for a specific incident, but they are about holding huge corporations accountable for often putting money ahead of real people and their well-being. Our legal system gives us a chance to set examples of companies and people who are participating in practices that are ending up harmful to others. I think it is about showing these companies that they WILL be held accountable by our legal system.”–Ally Lansbury ’20

“When Professor Falk told us we were going to visit the American Museum of Tort Law, I had quite a few questions, the first being “What is tort law?” As our course continued and we actually had the opportunity to learn more about tort law and understand its significance within the legal system, I became more and more intrigued as to what could be in store. Although I missed the original field trip with the entire class, 3 of my fellow classmates and myself piled into a car and ventured to Winsted, CT to visit the museum for ourselves. I found this to be a particularly interesting trip because it actually put what we were learning in class, into context. The museum explained the importance of trial by jury and the benefits of tort law. Its presentation of things such as important precedent-setting cases and dangerous toys allowed us to develop a deeper appreciation of tort law. By making the museum interactive, it helped shape my understanding of tort law cases within the context of the people’s lived experiences. Sitting in class learning about these cases is a far different experience from being in a setting that encourages you to delve into the details of the cases, which I found to be a very advantageous experience.”–Jessica Jones ’21

Students tour the displays inside the American Museum of Tort Law in Winsted, Connecticut. Photo courtesy of Glenn Falk

If you would like to visit the museum for yourself, the drive is only about an hour away from Trinity at 654 Main Street, Winsted, CT 06068. The museum is open from 10:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. from April 1-December 31 and is closed on Tuesday. You can learn more by visitng their website at or by calling 860.379.0505. 

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Professor Cabot: A Tribute from Julia Mardeusz ’16

Professor Edward “Ned” Cabot, a founding member of the Trinity College Public Policy and Law Department and long-time professor, passed away on May 15, 2018. His impact was enormous and his loss has been and will continue to be deeply felt within the Public Policy and Law Community. The Policy Voice will be posting a series of tributes and memoriams from faculty and alumni throughout the coming year, of which this from Ms. Mardeusz is the third.

By Julia Mardeusz ’16                                                                                                    

Public Policy and Law Alumnus 

If you’re reading Policy Voice, then you probably already know that Public Policy & Law is special, primarily due to Adrienne Fulco and Ned Cabot, two forces of nature on our faculty who did absolutely everything in their power to make this program into the innovative, academically rigorous and socially supportive community that it is today. They built one of the fastest-growing and most popular majors at Trinity from the ground up and made it so that we left class every day feeling compelled to participate meaningfully in public life and informed about policy, politics and law in a time when these things are more opaque than ever. Their knowledge and encouragement have shaped so many students in a relatively short time.

Professor Cabot was not only an excellent teacher but an excellent role model as well, and he came into our lives at an age where we thought intensely and often about the type of people we’d become—not just the jobs we’d have and the cities we’d move to and the graduate schools we’d attend, but our character, both the qualities that others see in us and those that are evident only to ourselves. As young adults, we look not only to our parents and our peers for inspiration in this area, but to our teachers, and the best ones, like Professor Cabot, show us the best of these possibilities and guide us in how to emulate them. The people we meet at this age often have the most influence on us because we are the most receptive to the lessons of others and are looking for ways to be ourselves, whoever that may be.

As one of the few professors I know of who had students vying desperately to gain seats in his classes (all of whom received one), Professor Cabot impacted the lives of a great number of students. His words and actions imparted valuable lessons that changed all of us for the better. I’m sorry that future Trinity students won’t be able to hear these lessons directly from him, but I want to share the ones that made the most significant impression on me.

These are some of the lessons we learned from him. There won’t be a test but you may have to brief them later:

Think carefully but speak confidently. Collegiality and teamwork, in law and in life, lead to great things. Give people second chances, even though they may not deserve them. Assess others on how far they have come, not from where they began. Listen instead of interrupting. Keep a sense of humor at all times. Take delight in other people, and let them know when they challenge you or make you rethink your position. Engage with your community and help in any way that you can. Above all, be compassionate and kind.

Although we are a young group, I am proud to say I can see already that Professor Cabot’s former students have brought these lessons into their lives and will be better lawyers, businessmen and women, academics, politicians, and people for this reason.

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Professor Cabot: A Tribute from Paige Greene ’13

Professor Edward “Ned” Cabot, a founding member of the Trinity College Public Policy and Law Department and long-time professor, passed away on May 15, 2018. His impact was enormous and his loss has been and will continue to be deeply felt within the Public Policy and Law Community. The Policy Voice will be posting a series of tributes and memoriams from faculty and alumni throughout the coming year, of which this from Ms. Greene is the second.

By Paige Greene ’13

Public Policy and Law Alumnus 

In May 2018 I graduated from law school and on October 1, I found out that I passed the Illinois Bar Exam. In November, I’ll be admitted to the Illinois bar. Why am I telling you all of this? Well, none of this would have happened if Professor Cabot hadn’t taken an interest in me early on in undergrad and encouraged me to go to law school.
From an early age, I knew that I wanted to go to law school and become a lawyer but I did not have any attorneys in my family and only knew one or two family friends that were attorneys. When I got to Trinity I knew that majoring in Public Policy and Law would get me one step closer to my dream, but still, I had so many questions about what it took to get there. Because he was a lawyer, I relied on Professor Cabot to help me find my path to my legal career.
A lot of his students reminisce about Professor Cabot’s PBPL 201 course which he taught like a first year law school course, Socratic Method style. And while this course was one of the most formative experiences of my time at Trinity and gave me a flavor of the career I am pursuing now, it was the one on one conversations we had of which I am fondest. In those conversations, Professor Cabot always encouraged me, he helped me improve my public speaking and my writing, he challenged me to think deeply about policy and legal issues, and he also gave me incredible advice.
I specifically remember during my senior year asking for Professor Cabot’s advice about whether or not I should go directly to law school or take a job. While many of my classmates were going straight to law school, I was undecided. I didn’t know what to do. So Professor Cabot helped me figure it out.  We talked extensively about my career goals and why I wanted to go to law school in the first place. Fortunately, I left our conversation knowing exactly what I needed to do. I decided to work for a few years first. It was exactly what I needed to do at the time and I owe Professor Cabot so much for helping me make that important decision.
Eventually, Professor Cabot came through for me again and wrote me a recommendation letter for my law school applications. So when I say that I would not be where I am today without Professor Cabot’s help and guidance, I actually mean that. Professor Cabot always encouraged and supported my dream of being a lawyer. 
What made Professor Cabot so remarkable to me was how deeply he cared about his students’ life outcomes. He wasn’t just there to teach us about the law and to give us a grade. Yes, he helped mold us into thoughtful, collaborative, skilled students and young professionals. But more importantly he took the time to know each of us individually and he always made time for us outside of the classroom. He took a truly holistic approach to teaching and I will always be grateful for having him in my life. 
Professor Cabot’s legacy will carry on through the lives of all of the students to whom he served as a teacher, mentor, colleague and friend. Today as I embark on what I hope will be a long legal career, I will do my best to be to someone else what Professor Cabot was to me.
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Professor Cabot: A Tribute from Ethan Cantor ’16

Professor Edward “Ned” Cabot, a founding member of the Trinity College Public Policy and Law Department and long-time professor, passed away on May 15, 2018. His impact was enormous and his loss has been and will continue to be deeply felt within the Public Policy and Law Community. The Policy Voice will be posting a series of tributes and memoriams from faculty and alumni throughout the coming year, of which this from Mr. Cantor is the first. 

By Ethan Cantor ’16

Public Policy and Law Alumus 

I’m sure if you ask any Trinity alumnus or alumna about Professor Cabot’s courses, they now may only be able to recall a handful of the cases that were covered in his class, or perhaps only a few of the wonderful anecdotes that Ned would weave into class discussions. However, one thing that I bet most of his former students can recall nearly perfectly is the atmosphere of his courses and the spirit in his classroom. I remember being crammed into a room in McCook’s second floor because Ned’s classes seemingly always exceeded their cap for the number of students allowed to enroll. Even students outside of the major were well aware of Professor Cabot’s courses and asked to enroll; Professor Cabot seemed hard-pressed to say no. They saw students huddled in Peter B’s or meeting in study rooms or empty classrooms discussing their briefs and practicing their oral arguments. They knew of all the hard work that was required to succeed in his courses, but they must have been lured by the passion and depth of interest that they witnessed. As a result, this reputation and popularity made for close quarters.

From the second Professor Cabot entered the classroom, not a phone could be seen and not a textbook was left unopened. The level of respect and alertness from his students, almost unseen in modern college courses, resembled that shown to a commanding officer. This sense of focus and order however was not a result of Professor Cabot being a strict instructor. It all stemmed from how much Ned’s students admired him for his wit, wisdom, charisma, and the respect he showed to his students. With all of the seriousness of his classroom discussions, I also remember the smiles and laughter that would regularly spread throughout his classroom. Ned had a fantastic sense of humor and his love of teaching and the material was contagious. We hung onto his words, every question and hypothetical. It was not just from a fear of being cold called and the command in which he implemented the Socratic method, it was because students were fascinated by what they would hear next. Millennial attention spans were stretched beyond their known limits.

Students came more prepared to his class than I had seen in any other, and I believe it was because a sense of personal responsibility. You wanted to do your best because you knew that Ned cared deeply about his students getting the most out of their college educations, rivaling the level of personal investment felt by a parent. Ned’s charm was felt and seen in everything he did, from his extensive comments on student work, the touching emails he’d send to the whole class after particularly lively discussions, and the conversations that he would have with students before and after class. He was that mythical professor that anyone who had a positive college experience raves about, but any Trinity student would argue that he was one-of-a-kind, because he was that special professor to us.

In many ways Ned’s courses differed from the norm, with their pre-course assignments, their formats (including famed oral arguments), and even Ned’s way of grading students by taking a comprehensive view of their performance and improvement over the course of the semester. Yet despite these abnormal characteristics, Ned set the tone for the major with his courses and fostered a sense of comradery amongst majors that is seen in few others. Ned reminded Public Policy & Law majors that the program prides itself in its rigor and level of student interest. Ned challenged students to uphold this reputation, and students kept pace in part to make Ned proud. I remember calling my parents in my freshman year during my first week in Ned’s PBPL 202 course and telling them about how much I was enjoying it. I had wanted to go to Trinity to be taught by professors like him.

A whole generation of Trinity students who were fortunate enough to have Professor Cabot were inspired to pursue careers in law, policy, and a variety of other fields not only because of what Ned taught us in his courses, but also because of what he taught us about ourselves. He helped many of us find our intellectual passions and our appreciation for a strong argument, regardless of what side it is representing. It was an honor to study under Professor Cabot and to have been shaped by the program that he helped build. The outpouring of fond memories and support expressed by the alumni/ae community in the wake of Ned’s passing is just one of the many testaments to his legacy. As much as we all miss Ned’s warm presence and brilliance, we will never forget the way he made us feel and think. It is our prerogative to pass on these gifts to future generations that will not have the fortune to possess these memories.

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Inside Being A Public Policy Major

By Brooke LePage ’19

Contributing Writer

Brooke LePage ’19 poses in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington.

Public policy and law is one of the more popular majors on Trinity’s campus. But, what exactly is it and how is it different from political science?

Before coming to Trinity and becoming a public policy major, I asked myself all of these questions. I would soon learn that public policy and law is an interdisciplinary version of political science. This means that rather than only taking public policy courses, students take approved courses in various departments to complete their requirements in order to be successful in fields relating to policy, law, or non-profit organizations and advocacy.

The major starts off with core classes such as “Introduction to American Public Policy,” “Fundamentals of American Law,” “Research & Evaluation,” and “Law, Argument & Public Policy.” Beyond these core classes found in the Public Policy Department, students are given general requirements such as ethics, quantitative, or legal history, which allows them to take courses in departments such as political science; women, gender, and sexuality; and economics.

The benefit of the public policy and law major, much like that of liberal arts schools in general, is that students are learning a variety of skills, knowledge, and ways of thinking in various disciplines. The result: students graduate with a large toolkit of skills and abilities.

Another key component of the major is the internship requirement. This can be fulfilled through Trinity’s Legislative Internship Program, or through any other relevant internship in Hartford. This requirement puts students in good standing to get summer internships or jobs after graduation.

I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., on the Washington Semester Program through American University. This study-away experience included an internship component. In addition to taking classes, exploring the city, meeting and hearing from supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I spent my semester interning in the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs (OLCA) at the U.S. Department of Education. During my internship, my work was focused on higher education policy.

Public policy and law majors pick a concentration within the major in order to tailor their studies and show preference and expertise in an area of policy. These concentrations range from law and society to education policy or urban policy. Ultimately, the concentration component acts as a built-in minor for the program.

Public policy and law students can be found burning the midnight oil reading and writing case briefs, policy memos, or preparing for an oral argument. They are a dedicated group of students who enjoy the library, the cookies Professor Fulco often brings to class, Mock Trial, and avoiding their science requirement for the college like the plague.

Ever since I attended the public policy and law open house before choosing to attend Trinity, the program has felt like a family. The students bond by taking the core classes together and working on projects such as the public policy blog, The Policy Voice, to showcase the program. The public policy professors are witty, insightful, experts in their fields, and care about their students.

I am grateful that I was able to find a program that allows me to take classes in various disciplines in order to learn many skills that are valuable in the policy, law, and non-profit job markets. I am also grateful for my fellow public policy majors and professors for becoming my family away from home.

This post originally appeared on the Trinity College Admissions Blog, where Brooke is also a contributor. 

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