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Martowska v. White

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

July 31, 2018


          Argued May 23, 2018

         Procedural History

         Application for joint custody of the parties' minor child, and for other relief, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of Hartford and tried to the court, Epstein, J.; judgment granting, inter alia, joint legal custody to the parties and visitation rights to the plaintiff; thereafter, the parties filed a psychological evaluation with the court; subsequently, the court, Suarez, J., ordered, inter alia, that the plaintiff could review but not obtain a copy of the psychological evaluation, and the plaintiff appealed to this court. Appeal dismissed.

          Matthew M. Martowska, self-represented, the appellant (plaintiff).

          Kerry A. Tarpey, for the appellee (defendant).

          Alvord, Sheldon and Bear, Js.


          PER CURIAM.

         The plaintiff, Matthew M. Martowska, appeals from the 2016 postjudgment order of the trial court that, although allowing the plaintiff to inspect a psychological evaluation performed in 2012 as part of a then pending proceeding regarding the parties' custody/ visitation matter, prevented the plaintiff from obtaining a copy of the evaluation. On appeal, the plaintiff raises a number of claims regarding the court's order prohibiting the release of a copy of the 2012 evaluation.[1] We conclude that the postjudgment order at issue is not a final judgment. Accordingly, we dismiss this appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

         Many of the underlying facts and lengthy procedural history of this case are not relevant to the issues on appeal. Accordingly, we provide only the facts and history pertinent to our discussion, some of which are set forth in this court's decision in Martowska v. White, 149 Conn.App. 314, 87 A.3d 1201 (2014). The plaintiff and the defendant, Kathryn R. White, are the parents of one minor child. The plaintiff filed a custody/visitation application in October, 2005. Id., 316. In 2007, the parties sought final custody and visitation orders, and the court issued a memorandum of decision on October 9, 2007. Id. On January 13, 2012, the plaintiff filed a motion seeking enforcement of visitation orders contained in the court's October, 2007 decision. Id., 317. As part of a February 7, 2012 agreement resolving that motion, the parties agreed to undergo a psychological evaluation ‘‘for custodial/parenting plan purposes.'' Id., 317- 18. Both parties submitted to a psychological evaluation, and the evaluation was filed with the court. Id., 318 n.6. The defendant filed a motion to release the psychological evaluation, which the court granted over the plaintiff's objection on January 16, 2013. Id., 319. The court order was stayed pending an appeal to this court. Id. In a decision released April 8, 2014, this court affirmed the trial court's order releasing the psychological evaluation, and stated, in a footnote, that ‘‘[a]fter today, the evaluation can be released.'' Id., 324 n.14.

         Between May, 2014, and December, 2016, no motions were filed in this custody/visitation matter in the trial court. The plaintiff and his family members did, however, engage in a series of communications with judges and staff of the Superior Court. In November and December, 2014, the plaintiff sent two letters to Delinda Walden of the Hartford Superior Court, seeking confirmation of the following: the plaintiff's mother was denied a copy of the psychological evaluation, neither party may obtain a copy of the evaluation, no third parties may access the evaluation, and Walden is unable to provide a copy of the evaluation for use in a different case pending in Massachusetts. On September 11, 2015, the plaintiff again wrote to Walden inquiring whether he could obtain a copy of the psychological evaluation, and whether he could share the copy with Dr. Denise Mumley in connection with an order of a Massachusetts court. The plaintiff wrote that the psychological evaluation would ‘‘be used in a different case unrelated to [the defendant]'' and further stated that the evaluation ‘‘will be shared initially with Dr. Mumley (as part of my evaluation) and thereafter with others.'' (Emphasis added.) Also on September 11, 2015, the plaintiff's mother sent an e-mail to Walden, inquiring whether the plaintiff would be permitted to obtain a copy of the evaluation. Walden responded in part that Judge Suarez had informed her that ‘‘we can only release the evaluation for purposes involving the case here - it is not available for any other purpose. Otherwise [the plaintiff] will need to file a motion.''

         On October 12, 2016, the plaintiff appeared at the Superior Court to review the 2012 psychological evaluation. According to the plaintiff, he was denied access to the evaluation. The following day, the plaintiff sent an e-mail to Kevin Diadomo of the Hartford Superior Court, in which he represented that his inquiry was ‘‘for the purpose of potentially bringing forward a motion involving the case here in CT, but I needed to review the [evaluation] before I could decide my plan of action.'' He requested that Diadomo share the e-mail with Judge Suarez. The plaintiff also sent letters to a number of judges of the Superior Court, including Judge Suarez.

         The court, Suarez, J., then scheduled a status conference in the matter for December 6, 2016. Following the status conference, the court issued an order providing that ‘‘[t]he plaintiff may review the psychological evaluation dated November 23, 2012, in the clerk's office. The plaintiff is reminded that the information cannot be used in any other action. He was reminded that he cannot have copies of any of the information.''[2] It is from this order that the plaintiff appeals.

         ‘‘Before examining the plaintiff's claims on appeal, we must first determine whether we have jurisdiction. It is axiomatic that the jurisdiction of this court is restricted to appeals from judgments that are final. General Statutes §§ 51-197a and 52-263; Practice Book § 61-1 . . . . Thus, as a general matter, an interlocutory ruling may not be appealed pending the final disposition of a case.'' (Citations omitted; internal quotation marks omitted.) Parrotta v. Parrotta, 119 Conn.App. 472, 475- 76, 988 A.2d 383 (2010).

         The plaintiff appeals from a discovery order prohibiting release of a copy of the psychological evaluation. ‘‘It is well established in our case law that interlocutory rulings on motions related to discovery generally are not immediately appealable.'' Cunniffe v. Cunniffe, 150 Conn.App. 419, 433, 91 A.3d 497, cert. denied, 314 Conn. 935, 102 A.3d 1112 (2014). As an interlocutory order, this order would be immediately appealable only if it met at least one prong of the two prong test articulated by our Supreme Court in State v. Curcio, 191 Conn. 27, 31, 463 A.2d 566 (1983). Under Curcio, ‘‘[a]n otherwise interlocutory order is appealable in two circumstances: (1) where the order or action terminates a separate and distinct proceeding, or (2) where the order or action so concludes the rights of the parties that further proceedings cannot affect them.'' Id.; see also Radzik v. Connecticut Children's Medical Center, 317 Conn. 313, 318, 118 A.3d 526 (2015) ...

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