CCJEF v. Rell Trial Ends: Awaiting Judge’s Decision

The historic CCJEF v. Rell case – a once-in-a-generation education adequacy and equity lawsuit challenging the state constitutionality of CT’s PK-12 education finance system — ended on August 10, 2016.  The trial was held before Judge Thomas Moukawsher in Hartford Superior Court. The trial began on January 12, 2016.  CCJEF filed suit to start this case on November 22, 2005 – almost 11 years ago.

Judge Moukawsher has up to 120 days from close of trial to render a decision.

CCJEF called 34 witnesses during our case-in-chief while the State called 18  witnesses.  There were 61 days of court proceedings.

Click on “Current Case Details” link below for the final briefs and findings of fact filed by the parties.

PROPOSED STATEMENT OF FACTS
Plaintiffs’ Preliminary Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law, January 5. 2016

PROPOSED STATEMENT OF FACTS
Defendants’ Corrected Preliminary Findings of Facts and Conclusions of Law, January 6, 2016

Current Case Details

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CCJEF v. Rell (2010)

March 2010

CCJEF Wins!: The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled a lower court erred in dismissing claims filed in 2005 by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding [CCJEF] seeking judicial relief on behalf of schoolchildren across our state. CCJEF filed suit contending the state’s failure to properly fund public schools inadequately prepares students for higher education and employment opportunities. The Court held the state constitution requires “public schools provide their students with an education suitable to give them the opportunity to be responsible citizens able to participate fully in democratic institutions, such as jury service and voting, and to prepare them to progress to institutions of higher education, or to attain productive employment and otherwise to contribute to the state’s economy.” The decision allowed CCJEF to continue to pursue our suit that the state has failed to adequately fund PreK-12 public education..

Source: Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, Inc. v. Rell, 295 Conn. 240 A.2d (Conn. 2010).

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CCJEF v. Rell (2010), Palmer Concurrence

March, 2010

Concurrence from Justice Richard N. Palmer citing his reasoning and agreement with the Connecticut Supreme Court’s opinion in CCJEF v. Rell.

Source: Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, Inc. v. Rell, 295 Conn. 240 A.2d (Conn. 2010) (Palmer R.N., concurring).

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CCJEF v. Rell (2010), Schaller Concurrence

March, 2010

Concurrence from Justice Barry R. Schaller citing his reasoning and agreement with the Connecticut Supreme Court’s opinion in CCJEF v. Rell.

Source: Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, Inc. v. Rell, 295 Conn. 240 A.2d (Conn. 2010) (Schaller, B.R., concurring).

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CCJEF v. Rell (2010), Vertefeuille Dissent

March, 2010

Dissent from Senior Justice Christine S. Vertefeiulle citing her reasoning and disagreement with the Connecticut Supreme Court’s opinion in CCJEF v. Rell.

Source: Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, Inc. v. Rell, 295 Conn. 240 A.2d (Conn. 2010) (Vertefeuille, C.S., dissenting).

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CCJEF v. Rell (2010), Zarella Dissent

March, 2010

Dissent from Justice Peter T. Zarella citing his reasoning and disagreement with the Connecticut Supreme Court’s opinion in CCJEF v. Rell.

Source: Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, Inc. v. Rell, 295 Conn. 240 A.2d (Conn. 2010) (Zarella, P. T., dissenting).

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SUPREME COURT LITIGATION
The Connecticut Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the appeal of CCJEF v. Rell on April 22, 2008. These documents provide background information on the appeal and present statements from CCJEF members and plaintiffs about the importance of the case to them and their families.

Background Information

Appeal Statements

Key Legal Filings in CCJEF v. Rell (2005- )
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Defendants’ Reply to School Districts’ Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Compel, Mar 19, 2014

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Plaintiffs Memo of Law in Opposition to Defendants Motion to Compel, Mar 6, 2014

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Defendants Motion to Compel and or Motion to Preclude, Feb 7, 2014

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Defendants Memo in Support of Motion to Compel and or Preclude, February 7, 2014

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Defendants Answer to Plaintiffs Corrected Third Amended Complaint, Feb 18, 2014

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Decision in State’s Motion to Dismiss, Dec 4, 2013

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Defendants’ Reply Brief in Support of Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Affidavit, September 13, 2013

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Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Supplemental Affidavit, and Finley Affidavit, September 9, 2013

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Defendants’ Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Affidavit, and Mahoney Affidavit, August 23, 2013

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State’s Reply Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss, April 10, 2013

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Plaintiffs’ Exhibits in Response to Motion to Dismiss, and Affidavit of Baker, February 22, 2013

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Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, February 22, 2013

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State’s Exhibit in Support of Motion to Dismiss, Mahoney Affidavit, January 3, 2013

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State’s Exhibit in Support of Motion to Dismiss, Seder Affidavit, December 14, 2012

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State’s Exhibit in Support of Motion to Dismiss, Pryor Affidavit, December 31, 2012

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State’s Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Dismiss, January 9, 2013

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State’s Motion to Dismiss, January 9, 2013

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Plaintiffs’ Corrected Third Amended Complaint, January 7, 2013

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Plaintiffs’ Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Defendants’ Palmer Motion, March 13, 2012

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State’s Motion for Protective Order and/or Order Limiting the Scope of Permissible Evidence Re: Scope of the Constitutional Right [“Palmer Motion”], September 15, 2011

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State’s Motion for Protective Order and/or Order Limiting the Scope of Permissible Evidence Re: Preschool, September 15, 2011

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Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint, November 18, 2010

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Connecticut Supreme Court, Plurality Decision, March 30, 2010

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Connecticut Supreme Court, Shaller Concurrence, March 30, 2010

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Connecticut Supreme Court, Palmer Concurrence, March 30, 2010

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Connecticut Supreme Court, Vertefeille Dissent, March 30, 2010

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Connecticut Supreme Court, Zarella Dissent, March 30, 2010

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Plaintiffs’ Reply Brief to Supreme Court of Connecticut, filed March 11, 2008:

Plaintiffs argue that the trial court’s decision was premature, since fully defining the right to education will require the consideration of facts that can only be fully explored at trial. Plaintiffs further contend that while the State makes much of the so-called difference between “suitable” and “minimally adequate” in its Reply Brief, Plaintiffs are merely asking the Court to recognize the existence of a minimum constitutional standard necessary to serve the purposes of education. Plaintiffs argue that such a standard is essential to maintain consistency with Connecticut precedent, the history of article eighth, § 1, and the Court’s own principles of constitutional interpretation. Finally, Plaintiffs note that adjudicating this case does not require the judiciary to set educational policy or to engraft particular standards into the Constitution, and Plaintiffs point to sister state cases to demonstrate that judicial remedies can be successfully implemented in education adequacy cases. [Read More]

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Defendants’ Reply Brief to Supreme Court of Connecticut, filed February 21, 2008:

Relying heavily on education cases from other states, the State argues that Plaintiffs’ claims raise non-justiciable political questions that cannot be adjudicated without severely encroaching on the power of the Legislature. The State also denies that there exists any support for the right to a “suitable” education either in the text of the Connecticut Constitution, the history of the Education Clause, federal precedents, the precedents of this state and others, or the public policy of the state. Finally, the State argues that Plaintiffs’ procedural arguments are without merit, as a full trial is not necessary to evaluate the legal merits of constitutional claims. Defendants’ Response Brief to Supreme Court of Connecticut, Feb 21, 2008 [Read More]

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Amicus Brief on Behalf of Plaintiffs by One Connecticut:

One Connecticut, a statewide coalition of human service, labor, interfaith and advocacy organizations that began collaborating in 2000 to fight poverty and build economic security, argues that providing suitable educational opportunities is necessary to minimizing disparities in civic engagement, improving governmental representation, and decreasing students’ future involvement with the welfare and criminal justice systems. [Read More]

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Amicus Brief on Behalf of Plaintiffs by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and Other Organizations:

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) and several organizations that provide services to families and children across the state of Connecticut argue that the state’s current education system perpetuates inadequate and unequal state aid for public schools, and that the broken ECS formula is not based on a rational, evidence-based assessment of the actual cost of education. Amici Curiae urge the Court to intervene to ensure the legislature’s adoption of a funding method that results in equitable and adequate education funding. [Read More]

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Amicus Brief on Behalf of Plaintiffs by State Historian Emeritus Collier and Delegate Bernstein:

In their brief of Amici Curiae, noted historian Christopher Collier and Constitutional Convention Delegate Simon Bernstein provide historical context to the fight for quality education in Connecticut. They argue that over the past three hundred years, Connecticut has continued to adapt to improve its schools, and Connecticut’s leaders have continued to assert that education is indispensable to the preparation of its citizens. Most importantly, Dr. Collier and Judge Bernstein demonstrate that in the 1965 Constitutional Convention, the State’s longstanding voluntary commitment to education was made into a binding constitutional duty. [Read More]

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Amicus Brief on Behalf of Plaintiffs by NAACP and the Center for Children’s Advocacy:

In their brief of Amici Curiae, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, and the Center for Children’s Advocacy, a non-profit organization which promotes the legal rights of poor children, argue that the trial court’s decision to strike Plaintiffs’ claims on the basis of an incomplete factual record was completely improper. Had a fully developed evidentiary record been available to the court, it would have revealed the disproportionate impact that inequitable and unsuitable educational opportunities have on poor and minority students in Connecticut. [Read More]

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Amicus Brief on Behalf of Plaintiffs by New York and New Jersey Education Advocacy Groups:

A consortium of education advocacy groups in New York and New Jersey argue that the trial court’s justiciability concerns were misplaced. Amici Curiae point to the widespread ability of sister states to enforce children’s constitutional rights to an adequate education without violating the prerogatives of the legislative and executive branches of government. [Read More]

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Amicus Brief on Behalf of Plaintiffs by the Workforce Alliance and other Business and Employment Groups:

The Workforce Alliance, WorkPlace, Inc., the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, and the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, organizations which play an important role in local employment recruitment and development, argue that the Connecticut public education system is failing to prepare its students to become successful and productive members of the workforce and to compete in institutions of higher learning. Because Connecticut owes its continued prosperity and high per capita income to its high-tech, engineering, financial, and information-based businesses, which experts agree require a highly-skilled workforce consisting of individuals having obtained at least a bachelor’s degree, Amici Curiae argue that changes in Connecticut’s economy necessitate the recognition of a quality standard of education for schoolchildren in the state. [Read More]

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Plaintiffs’ Merits Brief to Supreme Court of Connecticut, filed December 21, 2007:

Plaintiffs argue that the trial court erred both procedurally and substantively and that its decision should be reversed. Procedurally, the trial court erred by deciding a critical constitutional question prematurely, effectively defining the contours of the state Constitution prior to the submission of any evidence on Connecticut history, the intent of the drafters of the Education Clause, or the economic and sociological considerations that support a guaranteed baseline of educational opportunity. Substantively, the trial court erred by not carefully considering the volumes of evidence that support Plaintiffs’ claims. Specifically, the text of the Connecticut Constitution, the history of the Education Clause, the precedents of this state and others, and economic factors all strongly support Plaintiffs’ reading of the constitutional right to education. Plaintiffs further argue that if this right is construed to guarantee equality of opportunity alone, it would be possible for the State to meet its constitutional obligations merely by providing all students with an equally deficient education. Finally, Plaintiffs fully reject the trial court’s concerns over the manageability of their claims, arguing that Connecticut precedent strongly suggests that education cases are both judicially manageable and capable of adjudication. [Read More]

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The Trial Court’s Decision on Defendants’ Motion to Strike, Filed September 17, 2007:

The trial court grants the State’s Motion to Strike, effectively eliminating three of the four causes of action raised in Plaintiffs’ complaint. The trial court rejects the State’s argument that Plaintiffs’ claims for “suitable educational opportunities” are claims for suitable educational outcomes, and also rejects the State’s argument that Plaintiffs’ claims are non-justiciable. However, the court concludes that it is impossible to find “in the text of the constitution, the decisions of our Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court or the courts of our sister states, the history and context of our constitutional guarantee of ‘free public elementary and secondary schools’ or appropriate economic, cultural or public policy considerations any basis for concluding that there exists a constitutional right to ‘suitable’ educational opportunities.” Finally, the court discusses at length its concerns regarding the manageability of Plaintiffs’ claims, despite its formal conclusion that these claims are justiciable. [Read More]

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Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint, filed April 24, 2007:

Plaintiffs file a new Complaint, adding CCJEF as a plaintiff. Since the trial court’s granting of the State’s Motion to Dismiss, CCJEF has added to its membership parents of Connecticut schoolchildren, thereby curing the representational problem that had caused CCJEF to be removed from the suit. On the grounds that allowing CCJEF back into the lawsuit would not prejudice the State, the trial court allows CCJEF to return as a plaintiff. [Read More]

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Defendants’ Reply to Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Motion to Strike, filed October 19, 2006:

The State’s reply (1) again characterizes Plaintiffs’ claims for “suitable educational opportunities” as claims for suitable, and equal, educational outcomes, and (2) argues that the trial court cannot adjudicate Plaintiffs’ claims without severely encroaching on the power of the Legislature, as the field of education is controlled by this branch of government and lies outside of judicial expertise. [Read More]

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Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Motion to Strike, filed October 13, 2006:

Plaintiffs argue that the State’s reading of the Connecticut Constitution fundamentally misconstrues Connecticut’s history and prior Supreme Court precedent, and that properly understood, the Constitution guarantees not just equality of educational opportunity, but some substantive, meaningful baseline of educational opportunity as well. Plaintiffs further argue that striking their claims at this stage, before any evidence has been collected or submitted, is premature and incongruent with Connecticut trial practice. Plaintiffs reject the State’s characterization of their claims as claims for equal outcomes, pointing to the complaint’s focus on suitable educational opportunities. Finally, Plaintiffs demonstrate how strongly the Connecticut Supreme Court has spoken on the justiciability of education cases, and Plaintiffs argue that a full review of out-of-state cases strongly supports the justiciability of their claims. [Read More]

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The Trial Court’s Decision on Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, Filed August 17, 2006:

The trial court denies the State’s motion to dismiss the Governor, Treasurer, and Comptroller as defendants, on the grounds that these parties are sufficiently involved in the administration, coordination, and supervision of the activities of the department of education to qualify as proper defendants in this case. However, the trial court grants the State’s motion to dismiss CCJEF as a plaintiff, on the grounds that CCJEF does not have individual members that are parents of Connecticut schoolchildren. [Subsequent to the trial court’s granting of the State’s Motion to Dismiss, CCJEF added to its membership parents of Connecticut schoolchildren, thereby curing the representational problem that had caused the coalition to be removed from the suit. On the grounds that allowing CCJEF back into the lawsuit would not prejudice the State, therefore, the trial court did allow CCJEF to return as a plaintiff. See Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Complaint, below. [Read More]

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Defendants’ Motion to Strike, filed September 13, 2006:

After characterizing Plaintiffs’ claims for “suitable educational opportunities” as claims for suitable, and equal, educational outcomes, the State points to education cases from other states to argue that Plaintiffs’ claims are non-justiciable, i.e. that these claims cannot be managed by the courts and are better left to the legislature. Finally, the State contends that the Connecticut Constitution guarantees only the right to “substantially equal” educational opportunities, and that Plaintiffs’ three claims involving the right to “suitable educational opportunities” should therefore be stricken by the court. [Read More]

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Defendants’ Reply to Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Motion to Dismiss, filed May 4, 2006:

The State disputes Plaintiffs’ suggestion that CCJEF qualifies as a representative association. The State also argues that insofar as the Governor, Treasurer, and Comptroller have no meaningful role in the enforcement or administration of the state statutes at issue in this litigation, these three officials should be dismissed as improper parties to the action. [Read More]

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Plaintiffs’ Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, filed April 10, 2006:

Plaintiffs argue that CCJEF should remain as a plaintiff because it is a membership association that includes individuals acting in their capacity as parents, who have the right to sue for the harms suffered by their children. Plaintiffs also argue that the Governor, Treasurer, and Comptroller should remain as defendants, both because Connecticut precedent firmly establishes them as such, and because each of these parties plays an important role in the administration of – and bears constitutional responsibility for – Connecticut’s education funding system. [Read More]

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Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, filed March 3, 2006:

The State argues that the court should (1) remove CCJEF as a Plaintiff because CCJEF lacks standing to sue, and (2) dismiss any claims against the Governor, the State Comptroller, and the State Treasurer, on the grounds that the court lacks jurisdiction over these individuals. [Read More]

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Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint, filed January 20, 2006: (replacing the original complaint filed November 22, 2005)

Plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of Connecticut’s entire education system, alleging that the State is failing to prepare its schoolchildren to pursue higher education, secure meaningful employment, and participate in the political lives of their communities. The complaint cites deficiencies and disparities in educational resources as the cause of this constitutional violation and Connecticut’s persistent failures in educational outcomes as evidence that the State is failing to meet its constitutional obligations. Plaintiffs ask the court, among other things, to (1) declare the state’s system of funding public education unconstitutional, (2) bar the state from continuing to use it, and (3) if necessary due to inaction by the General Assembly, appoint a special master to evaluate and make recommendations to the court concerning possible reforms. [Read More]

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