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State v. Abushaqra

Appellate Court of Connecticut

April 5, 2016

STATE OF CONNECTICUT
v.
HAIDAR MUSTAFA ABUSHAQRA

         Argued July 23, 2015.

          Motion for permission to file certain documents under seal, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford, geographical area number twelve, where the court, Baldini, J., granted the motion in part and ordered the petitioner, Capital Bail Bonds, LLC, to refrain from disseminating, disclosing, or otherwise using those documents and to lodge all copies of the documents with the court under seal, from which the petitioner filed a petition for review with this court.

          SYLLABUS

         The petitioner, a bail bonds company that had executed two separate surety bonds upon the release from custody of a criminal defendant following his arrests, filed a petition for review of an order of the trial court preventing it from disseminating, disclosing, or otherwise using certain documents, and requiring it to lodge all copies of the documents with the court under seal. When the defendant failed to appear in court as ordered, the trial court ordered the bonds forfeited and raised his bail. The petitioner filed a motion to release its obligations under the bonds and a motion to file its memorandum in support of that motion and certain documents appended thereto under seal. These documents included a confidential report of the National Crime Information Center and a document generated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which the record indicated were inadvertently released to counsel for the petitioner. The respondent state, which had not seen the documents, objected to the petitioner's motions, arguing that the petitioner had failed to demonstrate that it was entitled to have its obligation released and to have the documents sealed. The trial court conducted an in camera review of the documents and heard the arguments of the parties. The trial court then ordered the petitioner to lodge all copies of the documents with the court under seal and prohibited it from disseminating, disclosing, or otherwise using those documents. In its petition for review before this court, the petitioner claimed that the trial court lacked the authority to order a blanket prohibition on any use and dissemination of those documents, and that the court exceeded its authority when it ordered that the documents be turned over to the court. The petitioner asked this court to reverse the trial court's order insofar as it precluded the petitioner from using the documents in further court proceedings. The state claimed that the use of the documents is strictly limited by federal law, that the trial court properly precluded the parties from using the documents, and that the trial court properly utilized its inherent authority to restrict the use of the sensitive documents. Held that the trial court had the inherently authority to enter appropriate orders to halt any further unintended dissemination of the highly sensitive documents that were intended only for use by law enforcement professionals under federal law and to place the documents in the custody of the court: the inherent authority of the trial court to manage its own affairs so as to achieve an orderly and expeditious disposition of cases existed independently of its authority recognized by rule or statute; accordingly, the petition for review was granted but the relief requested was denied.

         Michael J. Dyer, with whom, on the brief, was Ryan P. Barry, for the petitioner (Capital Bail Bonds, LLC).

         Christopher Malany, supervisory assistant state's attorney, for the respondent (state).

         Benjamin C. Mizer, principal deputy assistant attorney general, Deirdre M. Daly, United States attorney, and Mark B. Stern, Charles W. Scarborough, and John B. Hughes, filed a brief for the United States of America as amicus curiae.

         DiPentima, C. J., and Lavine and Mullins, Js.[*]

          OPINION

          [164 Conn.App. 258] PER CURIAM.

          In this petition for review, brought pursuant to Practice Book § 77-1 and General Statutes § 51-164x (c), we are called upon to determine whether the trial court improperly (1) prohibited the petitioner, Capital Bail Bonds, LLC, from disseminating, disclosing, or otherwise using a report of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC report) and a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) rap sheet in bond forfeiture proceedings, and (2) ordered the petitioner to lodge all copies of said documents with the court under seal. The petitioner claims that the court lacked the authority to enter such an order. We disagree and conclude that the court had the inherent authority both to prohibit the dissemination, disclosure, and use of these documents, and to order the petitioner to lodge them with the court under seal.

         The following facts and procedural history are relevant to our analysis. The defendant, Haidar Mustafa Abushaqra, was arrested on June 28, 2011, and charged with two counts of larceny in the first degree. He was released on separate surety bonds that were executed by the petitioner. On February 1, 2012, the defendant [164 Conn.App. 259] failed to appear in court as ordered, and the court, Taylor, J., ordered the bonds forfeited and raised the bail in each pending case to $1 million.

         On September 3, 2014, the petitioner filed a motion to release its obligations under the bonds. In support of those requests, the petitioner also filed a motion to file a record under seal, requesting that the memorandum of law appended to the motion to release, as well as certain other documents, be filed under seal with the court pursuant to Practice Book § 11-20A.[1] In its memorandum of law in support of its motion to file record under seal, the petitioner represented to the court that " [t]here are certain statements and documents [referenced] within said motion that are highly privileged and it is undersigned counsel's belief that if they were released to the public, their release could jeopardize the health, safety and/or reputation of certain parties involved." The respondent state filed a written objection on September 22, 2014. The state was unaware of the content of both the petitioner's memorandum of law and the documents themselves at that time because it was not served with copies.

          [164 Conn.App. 260] The parties appeared for argument before the court, Baldini, J., on September 22, 2014. At that hearing, the petitioner's counsel elaborated on the nature of the documents it sought to be sealed: " First, there is a document that I've attached . . . that is generated by the FBI and that contains information that is relevant and material to the case at hand. And for confidentiality purposes I would like to refer to that document as document number one. And secondly there is a document generated by the chief state's attorney's office under the [division] of criminal justice addressed to myself indicating that the FBI--in fact, a division of the FBI dealing with internal or international relations considers that document number one as a national security sensitive document and is not to be disclosed outside of law enforcement. The FBI also told the chief [state's attorney's] office that document number one is also law enforcement sensitive and is to be used for internal purposes only."

         The petitioner's counsel repeatedly stated during this hearing that these documents are " national security sensitive" and " not to be distributed--disseminated outside of law enforcement." The court inquired how the petitioner came into possession of these materials. The petitioner's counsel represented that " they were inadvertently given to me." The state objected to the petitioner's motions, arguing that the petitioner had failed both to demonstrate that it was entitled to have its obligations released and that it was entitled to have the documents sealed. The state also contended that it was " arguing this motion at a significant disadvantage" because, at that time, it had not seen any of the documents. At the conclusion of ...


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