Law Prof: Lawmakers did not Abide by Statute for Gun Bill


Our Face the State interview last month with attorney and private investigator Peter Sachs garnered quite a bit of attention from Channel 3 viewers and well beyond. Sachs contended state lawmakers violated state statute and took short cuts in passing the law, which Sachs argued rendered the new law invalid. After the interview aired no lawmaker came out to refute Sachs’ allegations. So what gives? Was Sachs right? And if he is, is the law invalid?

We asked a few lawmakers and legislative workers about that, and several conceded Sachs had a point, but that no court would rule against a legislature and governor, so we decided to put a legal mind on the case. On our request, Quinnipiac University law professor William Dunlap was provided to us by the college to take a look at the Sachs claims.

In an interview set to air this Sunday on Face the State on WFSB Channel 3, Professor Dunlap offered a legal opinion on the case, and found Sachs’ argument has quite a bit of merit, but, there’s a big but.

Dunlap says it does appear state lawmakers did in fact, not follow the rules set forth by the statuen they passed the gun law.
“It is clear the legislature did not follow the procedures that are laid down in the general statute..” but Dunlap said it is unlikely a court would take up a challenge to the new law based on this argument. Dunlap did say the court could be forced to examine the issue.
“if someone were to be convicted under this law, and then challenge its legitimacy, then the court might have to take up the issue.” But again, Dunlap believes even if this were to happen, the court would not rule the law was invalid because it is not a crime for lawmakers not to follow the procedures of a statute.

No doubt this a complicated argument, but one we’ll be hearing about it as challenges to the gun law appear. Also joining us in this discussion is State Senator Joe Markley, a Republican who voiced concerns about the way the law was passed.

You can watch the entire discussion with Professor Dunlap and Senator Markley right here:

watch the interview with Peter Sachs right here:


Also today, Congressman Jim Himes: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/himes-marathon-bombing-hearings-likely/

Our flashback today is about campaign ’98: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/face-the-state-flashback-the-pay-raise-debate-of-1998/

And Oprah: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2013/05/03/my-interview-with-oprah/

11 replies »

  1. I’m pleased that Professor Dunlap, (who was one of my professors in law school), agrees with me that the Legislature violated State law in enacting the gun law. However, I respectfully disagree with his opinion that a court would not entertain a challenge based on that violation.

    I’m not alleging the Legislature committed any crime and it need not commit a crime for the results of its actions to be judicially invalidated. In fact, criminal law is entirely unrelated to my allegation.

    The Legislature failed to follow the affirmative requirements of a statute, the language of which specifically states the consequences of such a failure— that “…no bill shall be passed or become a law…”

    Professor Dunlap is a gentleman and a scholar for whom I have great respect, but I stand by my assertion that the Legislature’s failure to abide by CGS Sec. 2-26 renders PA 13-3 null and void.


  2. Peter Sachs is right. The purpose of the statute is to prevent a leakage of constitutional power from the legislature to the executive department. The statute authorizing emergency certification recognizes e-cert as an exception to the separation of powers and describes in detail the conditions that must be met during its application. When an exception to a rule enshrined in both the U.S. Constitution and the state constitution is applied often and in contravention to both constitutional strictures and the authorizing statute, the court should strike it down. Of course, an over politicized court will be tempted to wink at such unconstitutional offenses. In saying the court may not rule as it should, professor Dunlap is making a prediction; he is not saying that such a route is constitutionally advisable.


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