Huh?

In the category of cases that make you go “Huh?” is State v. Heredia, 310 Conn. 742 (2013). The defendant claimed he should have been released without bond because his probable cause hearing took place an hour and thirty minutes past the 48-hour limit required by Practice Book § 37-12. Resolving his claim required interpreting the pertinent Practice Book provision. The Court began with the usual boiler plate that the rules of statutory construction apply to construing the rules of practice, which is not noteworthy. What was somewhat jaw-dropping was that the Court continued the boiler plate to include General Statutes § 1-2z, the plain-meaning statute that the legislature enacted after it was irritated by the Court’s determination in State v. Courchesne, 262 Conn. 537 (2003), that the Court would look to legislative history in all cases concerning statutory construction.

Whether the legislature violated the separation of powers in instructing the Court on how to do its job is an open question and subject to reasonable disagreement. Still, it is somewhat surprising that the Court would allow the legislature to dictate how the Court should interpret the Practice Book, which is, after all, a judge-made set of rules. There may be good reasons to start with the plain-language of a particular rule, but it seems to me that the Court should consider whether this is so rather than mindlessly follow the legislature’s dictates.

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