November 27, 2009

Bristol courthouse closure eyed for March 2011

The state court system aims to close the Bristol courthouse by March a, 2011 in order to save $150,000 in lease and operating expenses, according to the chief court administrator.

Judge Barbara M. Quinn recently told the legislature’s appropriations committee that three courthouses – in Bristol, Willamantic and Norwalk – can be shut down “without significant cost to the state” because they have leases that can be cancelled within the next year.

In the case of the Willamantic and Norwalk courthouses, which each serve juveniles, Quinn said the courts will close next year.

But to shutter the Bristol courthouse, she said, the courts will need “the concurrence of the legislature.”

Though Quinn didn’t expand on the reason, lawmakers have said that a statute on the books requires court to be held in Bristol for at least 40 weeks a year.

Closing the courthouse, and moving its cases to New Britain, would violate the law, legislators said, so it can’t be done without their blessing.

Bristol’s lawmakers vowed last month to fight any effort to repeal the statute that guarantees the city’s courthouse will remain open.
State Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat and former mayor, promisedhe would “fight tooth and nail to keep that law on the books. I’m going to protect our city as much as I can.”

Court officials said they don’t necessarily want to close courthouses. They said they are being forced to slash where they can to reduce spending to levels authorized by the legislature and Gov. Jodi Rell.

We must remember that the Judicial Branch does not determine on its own the

locations where court will be held or the scope and size of the programs and services that

we will provide to the citizens of the state,” Quinn told the Nov. 18 public hearing of the appropriations panel.

“Adequate funding is essential to carry out the will of the legislature and provide the services expected of a statewide court system,” she said. “It is disheartening and frustrating to see an ever-widening chasm between the programmatic responsibilities and mandates given to the Judicial Branch by the legislature and the funds that are ultimately available to meet those critical and core duties.”

“Responsibilities and mandates only seem to grow and expand while resources continue to shrink,” Quinn said, adding that the situation “cannot continue.”

“If adequate funding is unavailable and if unilateral budget reductions continue to be imposed by the executive branch, we have no choice but to curtail what we do and where we do it,” Quinn said.

She said that given the “unavoidable and unfortunate situation” related to judicial finances, she has to take action “to narrow the gap as much as possible between available funding and expenses.”

Quinn said that none of the actions she is recommending are one she would otherwise choose, but something has to be done.

Quinn also said tat because “this is a very fluid situation,” her recommendations, including the closure of Bristol’s courthouse, are “merely the first steps in what promises to be a long and painful process.”

Quinn’s entire testimony is available here.

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at


Anonymous said...

Maybe Bristol could hire some cheap lawyers. They will be on the corner working for dayrate.About time for reality check.

Anonymous said...

Atta boy Frank: maybe you can get your brother to help you.
Then he can run for mayor.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Nicastro can get Balldwin to help him.

Anonymous said...

Every candidate for Governor will promise to keep it open.

Positively Right said...

You would think that with Bristol being dominated by the Democrat Party (especially at the Legislative level) the Democrat dominated state government would cut Bristol a break. Apparently being a Democrat "yes man" to the State Democrat machine doesn't pay dividends. Perhaps in 2010 it's time for a change?

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...
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reality check said...

10:01 - you are completely right - this Bristol/Plainville group of legislators has no clout whatsoever - accept it and get ready to pay dearly.

Anonymous said...

I guess "positively right" should call himself "always right" . He is a mouthpiece for the republican "cry babies" club RTC. Those who cry and never have the courage to even say who they are.

Anonymous said...

The brothers are probably done.People are getting tired of the bull from both of them.

Anonymous said...

Don't let the door hit you in the a.. on your way out. It's a scary area that does NOTHING for Bristol but drag it down.
Consolidating to save money, novel idea.
Time for a change? That's like changing diapers - they always get dirty and stink.

Positively Right said...

Sorry anonwestconnstudent. I guess this is why you're having trouble finishing college. Democrat-ic (sic) is a misnomer. I'll let you figure it out (which undoubtably will take an eternity).

But for example, Tom Colapietro is on the Law Committee, but he can't keep a courhouse in his own district? He must have no clout with his peers. Nor do the rest of the Democrat delegation. Perhaps if Ms. Matthews becomes a State Rep. (the reason she ran for City Council), she (an attorney) will have more clout?

repitition said...

6:01 - and U R?

Steve Collins said...

Positively Right -- Colapietro is actually the co-chairman of the General Law Committee, which oversees a range of issues, including consumer-related ones. But it has absolutely nothing to do with the courthouse. The legal system is generally under the purview of the Judiciary Committee, though of course it matters how the Appropriations Committee decides to fund the courts.
Whether the city's legislative delegation has clout or not is, of course, an opinion. Feel free to express it.

Positively Right said...


Ok so you're going to get technical? But Thank you for clearing that up.

"General Law Committee has cognizance of all matters relating to fair trade and sales practices, consumer protection, occupational licensing and mobile homes; and all matters dealing with alcoholic beverages"

However, I never stated that I thought the authority of what and where each court house exists is under the direct authority of State Senator Colapietro's committee. Obviously the aformentioned discription pertains to legal matters which (I would assume) can be or are handled somewhat in the Bristol Courthouse (pertaining to local cases involving licensing, alcohol and local business). But evidently the Governor (whom I actually thought was had the final say) has as much or more authority as the Judicial Committee. And Collins this is more than "consumer related" issues. But since we as citizens are "consumers" of government services, what exactly in government is not that?

Again I would hope that our delegation would have enough clout to keep the courthouse in Bristol. But evidently they do not.

Positively Right said...

And Collins, you did derive that my answer to "westconn" had nothing to do with the subject of the law committee, right?

Again in response to anonwestconn:
She said, "But that's what happens when people with money elect people to power to say we've got ours, screw the rest of you"

-No, this is what happens when government over-sepnds to the point of implosion and there is no other choice but to cut more essential services. It's that clear and that easy to explain (I'm not sure what or who you're referring to).

Anonymous said...

And where is our illustrious mayor on all this?

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...
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Anonymous said...

Maybe we could have a real Downtown with them gone.

Anonymous said...

Close it down. Just another bump in the road for the Democratic party they are killing this town.

Anonymous said...

Clean up Bristol let it close. Only the city lawyers want it open. Let them travel like the rest of us.

Anonymous said...

tHIS WILL BE GOOD FOR BRISTOL. Get rid of the criminals and the fat lawyers. TEAR DOWN ALL DUMPS and return to normal.

Anonymous said...

We need a real political force in Bristol before we loose it all. Its not that far off.

Odin said...

All you people who think that there is a "Democratic Party" way to fix this and keep our courthouse: you do realize that we are on the Titanic, right? Being golfing buddies with the ship's purser will not get you into the boat reserved for women and children.

Anonymous said...

@ PositivelyRight

Actually, the courthouse in Bristol is a GA court, meaning it deals exclusively with criminal cases. So, it wouldn't have anything to do with licensing, etc.

The courts that deal with licensing are the JD (or Judicial District) courts, where civil cases are tried.

Anonymous said...

The point being missed in all of this banter is the fact that the state is out of money - out of money. No one wants taxes to rise, therefore - services must be cut, or raise your taxes.

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...
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Anonymous said...

West Conn Student wants us all to forget that during the Rell and Rowland administrations there was a big-spending and mandate-creating Democrat majority in Hartford. That is where the state's fiscal problems started, and the only way to improve our situation is to vote out the guilty legislators.

Anonymous said...

westconn nit-wit and Odumb ignore the simple economic reality that is what we are experiencing and have been for quite some time.

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...
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NOT mine said...

Blogger AnonymousWestconnStudent said...

Positively Right:

It's DEMOCRAT-IC. Please get it right.


I have been a registered DEMOCRAT since 1966 and STILL am a somewhat despondent member of the DEMOCRAT party .

Do you think that just because the leadership became communist/socialist/national socialist , we should suddenly change our party name ????

AnonymousWestconnStudent said...
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