Connecticut case benefits deportation defendants

A Quinnipiac University School of Law alumna and an adjunct professor teamed up to successfully argue that the burden of evidence on individuals who have been deported should no longer be on the defendants to prove collateral consequences in a precedent-setting Connecticut Supreme Court case.

The July State v. Jerz G. decision liberalized the rules under which a deported defendant may pursue his or her appeal. Previously, such appeals had been routinely dismissed as moot. The new standard is far less burdensome to the defendants, who are often indigent and pursuing appellate review of adverse court rulings.

Kelly Billings, an assistant public defender who is also an alumna of the School of Law’s Defense Appellate Clinic, and Adjunct Professor James Streeto, senior assistant public defender, worked together to win the case.

Billings and Streeto drafted and completed the legal research on the brief together.

“We collaborated on arguments, research and ideas,” Billings said. “James was instrumental in preparing me for the oral argument, which I argued first at the Appellate Court and then at the Supreme Court. It was a joint effort with James providing guidance and appellate expertise every step of the way.”

“Although the burden of proof question is not definitively answered, it seems clear that the burden is no longer on the defendant to prove collateral consequences to the degree required previously,” Streeto said. “This will give defense counsel much more leeway in establishing that the appeal should be allowed to proceed.”

Billings first met Streeto when she was part of the Quinnipiac Defense Appellate Clinic.

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