Probate Court Remedies and Enforcement in Connecticut

The Probate Court may issue an order without notice and hearing if:

1. The governing statute specifically authorizes the issuance of orders without notice and hearing;

2. No governing statute requires notice and hearing, and the applicable rule authorizes issuance of orders without notice and hearing; or

3. Each party has filed a written waiver of notice.

4. The court may require notice and hearing before issuing an order even if the court is permitted to issue the order without notice and hearing.

Alternative Remedies:

When deciding a petition, the Probate Court may order an alternative remedy that is similar to, or less intrusive than, the remedy requested in the petition without giving notice of another hearing if the court finds that:

1. The alternative remedy could have been requested in the underlying petition or in a petition concerning substantially the same issues that involves no additional parties; and

2. Either:

• Notice of the hearing indicated the possibility of an alternative remedy; or

• No party who is absent from the hearing would be prejudiced by the lack of notice of the possibility of an alternative remedy and each party present at the hearing has been provided a meaningful opportunity to present evidence and argument concerning the alternative remedy.

Failure of fiduciary to Perform Duties:

A fiduciary who fails to perform his or her duties or comply with an order of the court shall be subject to removal, disallowance of fees, surcharge, contempt of court and other sanctions permitted by law. In addition, a fiduciary who is an attorney who fails to perform duties as a fiduciary or comply with an order of the court shall be subject to sanction

Capias to Compel Attendance:

On motion of a party or on the court’s own motion, the court may issue a capias to authorize a proper officer to arrest and bring before the court an individual who has failed to comply with a subpoena.

Types of Contempt:

An individual misbehaving or disobeying an order of a judge during a hearing or conference may be found to be in summary criminal or civil contempt, or may be referred for prosecution for non-summary criminal contempt. The court shall make an audio recording of a contempt hearing.

• Summary Criminal Contempt:

Summary criminal contempt is misbehavior in the presence of the court that is directed against the dignity and authority of the court and obstructs the orderly administration of justice. The court shall adjudicate summary criminal contempt at the time of the act, provided that the court may recess before conducting the contempt hearing.

The court shall inform the defendant of the contempt charges and afford the defendant the opportunity to present evidence and argument as to why the defendant should not be found guilty of contempt. If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant is guilty of summary criminal contempt, the court shall immediately impose a sentence of not more than $100 for each act of contempt.

• Non-Summary Criminal Contempt:

Non-summary criminal contempt is misbehavior that is directed against the dignity and authority of the court when:

a. The misbehavior does not obstruct the orderly administration of justice;

b. The court has become personally embroiled;

c. The misconduct did not occur in the presence of the court; or

d. The court does not immediately impose summary criminal contempt.

The court shall refer a matter involving non-summary criminal contempt to the state’s attorney for prosecution in the Superior Court in the manner provided in Connecticut Practice Book section 1-18.

• Civil Contempt:

Civil contempt is a remedy for violation of a court order. A party seeking an order of civil contempt shall file a motion identifying the order that has been violated, stating the reasons why the court should order sanctions, and describing the efforts made to secure compliance with the order. The court may initiate a civil contempt proceeding on its own motion. The party seeking an order of civil contempt shall send a copy of the motion to each party and attorney of record and certify to the court that the copy has been sent.

If the court finds by clear and convincing evidence that the person who is the subject of the motion violated a clear and unambiguous court order of which the person had actual knowledge, the court may impose sanctions to ensure compliance with the order and compensate another party for loss. The sanctions shall be coercive and non-punitive and may include fines. If violation of an order renders the order unenforceable, the court may refer the matter for non-summary criminal contempt. (Rules 69-71 of the Connecticut Probate Court Rules of Procedure).

By Maya Murphy, P.C., Connecticut
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joseph C. Maya, Esq.
Joseph C. Maya is the Managing Partner at Maya Murphy, P.C., and handles cases involving these legal issues in New York and Connecticut.

Copyright Maya Murphy, P.C.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication at the time it was written. It is not intended to provide legal advice or suggest a guaranteed outcome as individual situations will differ and the law may have changed since publication. Readers considering legal action should consult with an experienced lawyer to understand current laws they may affect a case. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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