The Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court has granted an appeal application by the state Attorney General in the education funding fairness lawsuit filed in 2005. The case was subject to an interim appeal and a 2010 decision sending the lawsuit to trial.
Danbury is a lead plaintiff in the case which claims Connecticut failed to fund schools adequately or equitably.
Attorney General George Jepsen argues that after finding that the plaintiffs did not prove that the state failed to provide adequate funding to public schools, the Superior Court Judge still determined that a number of Connecticut's education policies were unconstitutional.
The Chief Justice offered the plaintiffs a chance to respond to the appeal application.
While making his case directly to the Connecticut Supreme Court, Jepsen said that a delay in appellate determination would be a substantial injustice because the trial court has ordered extensive, sweeping changes within 180 days. Jepsen notes that there is strong public interest in this case, and any delay would undermine public confidence in the Judiciary, leave the Legislature without proper guidance, or create an unnecessary constitutional confrontation.
The plaintiffs disagree with Jepsen that an appeal is needed before the Legislature acts. More than 50 witnesses, 800 exhibits and 2,000 fact admissions over a 60 trial days were followed by an extensive briefing. A decision was made less than a month after the closing arguments. The plaintiffs say the timeline shows the enormous importance of the case. They say that if the Supreme Court finds affirms the Superior Court ruling, the remedy phase would have to be completed in order to enter into final judgement. There would then be a third review and decision by the Supreme Court, months or years after the original ruling.
Jepsen says part of the decision would take educational policy from the representative branches of state government, entrusting it to the discretion of a single, unelected judge.
Since the Supreme Court has decided to take up the appeals case, the plaintiffs want all parts of the Superior Court ruling to be reviewed.