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Cannatelli v. Statewide Grievance Committee

Court of Appeals of Connecticut

November 13, 2018

FRANK P. CANNATELLI
v.
STATEWIDE GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE

          Argued October 11, 2018

         Procedural History

         Appeal from the decision of the defendant's reviewing committee directing the disciplinary counsel to file a presentment against the plaintiff, brought to the Superior Court in the judicial district of New Haven, where the court, Miller, J., granted the defendant's motion to dismiss and rendered judgment thereon, from which the plaintiff appealed to this court. Affirmed.

          Frank P. Cannatelli, self-represented, the appellant (plaintiff).

          Brian B. Staines, chief disciplinary counsel, with whom, on the brief, was Beth L. Baldwin, assistant chief disciplinary counsel, for the appellee (defendant).

          Elgo, Bright and Flynn, Js.

          OPINION

          PER CURIAM.

         The self-represented plaintiff, Frank P. Cannatelli, appeals from the judgment of the Superior Court dismissing his appeal from a decision of the defendant, Statewide Grievance Committee, and from the court's subsequent denial of his motion to reargue the judgment of dismissal. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that the court improperly determined that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over his appeal for lack of an appealable final judgment. We affirm the judgment of the Superior Court.

         The following procedural history is relevant to this appeal.[1] The statewide bar counsel filed a grievance complaint, dated July 28, 2014, against the plaintiff, an attorney, alleging that he overdrafted funds from his IOLTA account.[2] After an audit and a full hearing, the reviewing committee found by clear and convincing evidence that the plaintiff committed unethical conduct and violated rules 1.15, 1.3, and 8.4 of the Rules of Professional Conduct, as well as Practice Book § 2-27. On November 20, 2015, the reviewing committee, pursuant to Practice Book § 2-35 (i), ordered that the plaintiff be presented to the Superior Court. On February 3, 2016, the Chief Disciplinary Counsel filed a presentment against the plaintiff. See Disciplinary Counsel v. Cannatelli, Superior Court, judicial district of New Haven, Docket No. CV-16-6060188-S.[3]

         On February 1, 2016, the plaintiff filed an appeal to the Superior Court from the decision of the reviewing committee that ordered presentment, claiming, among other things, violations of his constitutional rights. On February 16, 2016, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff's appeal on the ground that the Superior Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the order of presentment is not an appealable final judgment. On March 28, 2016, the plaintiff filed an objection arguing that the court had jurisdiction, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, because the order of presentment was being challenged on constitutional grounds.

         On June 20, 2016, the court concurrently granted the defendant's motion to dismiss and overruled the plaintiff's objection. The court, relying upon Miniter v. Statewide Grievance Committee, 122 Conn.App. 410, 998 A.2d 268, cert. denied, 298 Conn. 923, 4 A.3d 1228 (2010), and Rozbicki v. Statewide Grievance Committee, 157 Conn.App. 613, 115 A.3d 532 (2015), concluded that an ‘‘order of a presentment has been clearly found to be wholly interlocutory and it cannot properly be the basis of an appeal.'' The court also concluded that the ‘‘[p]laintiff has not presented the court with any persuasive authority that [42 U.S.C. § 1983] controls the attorney grievance process in any way.'' On July 6, 2016, the plaintiff filed a motion to reargue the judgment of dismissal, renewing his argument posited in his March 28, 2016 objection. On September 22, 2016, the court summarily denied the plaintiff's motion to reargue. This appeal followed.

         On appeal, the plaintiff argues that the court improperly determined that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over his appeal for lack of an appealable final judgment. We disagree.

         This court's decisions in Miniter and Rozbicki are dispositive of the plaintiff's appeal to this court. In both cases, this court, inholding that an order of presentment is not a final judgment for the purposes of appeal, stated: ‘‘An order of presentment is an initial step in disciplinary proceedings against an attorney. Following the filing of a presentment complaint, a hearing on the merits is held after which the court renders judgment on the presentment complaint. See Practice Book § 2-47 (a). The committee's decision directing that a presentment be filed in Superior Court is interlocutory in nature and not a final judgment from which an appeal to the Superior Court lies.

         ‘‘[The] interlocutory order is not immediately appealable under State v.Curcio, 191 Conn. 27, 31, 463 A.2d 566 (1983), because it neither terminates a separate and distinct proceeding, nor so concludes the rights of the parties that further proceedings cannot affect them. Following an order of presentment by the committee, a presentment complaint is filed, and the matter continues in the Superior Court until judgment is rendered on the presentment complaint.'' (Internal quotation marks omitted.) Rozbicki ...


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