Attorney General: Chief State's Attorney Richard Palmer, 1991-038 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal

December 18, 1991

Chief State's Attorney Richard Palmer
34 Quinnipiac Street
P.O. Box 5000
Wallingford, CT 06492

Dear Mr. Palmer:

On August 21 and 24, 1990 then Chief State's Attorney John J. Kelly requested an opinion of this office concerning the calculation of longevity benefits for State's Attorney Robert C. Satti. On October 11, 1990, this office informed Mr. Kelly that his questions should be directed to the Office of the State Comptroller. On October 24, 1990, Mr. Kelly addressed his questions to the Central Payroll Division of the Office of the Comptroller. The Comptroller's office responded on November 20, 1990, and, again, on April 17, 1991 to Mr. Kelly's inquiry. On September 5, 1991 then Deputy Chief State's Attorney Robert J. Sabo wrote this office renewing the initial request for an opinion because "[a]fter much discussion by members of my staff with the Comptroller's Office, the legal issue still remains unanswered and apparently requires a legal opinion by your office." The questions concerning Mr. Satti's longevity benefits are as follows:

  1. Did the Division of Criminal Justice act in accordance with C.G.S. 51-287a when it denied the claimant credit for his services as a municipal court prosecutor by taking the position that such service was not service as a prosecutorial official of the Judicial Department?

  2. If Question No. 1 is answered in the negative, is the claimant, who served as a New London municipal court prosecutor from July 1, 1955 to January 3, 1961, entitled to full credit for the years, months and days of such service or half credit since his employment with the municipal court was part-time?

  3. As a State's Attorney, is he entitled to full credit for his ten years of service as a part-time Assistant State's Attorney from 1965-1975?

  4. As a State's Attorney, is he entitled to two years' credit for war service?

The answer to the first question is no, as explained in I, infra. The answer to the second and third questions is yes, as explained in II, infra. The answer to the fourth question is yes, as explain in III, infra.

  1. MR. SATTI'S SERVICE AS A MUNICIPAL COURT PROSECUTOR WAS SERVICE AS A PROSECUTORIAL OFFICIAL OF THE JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT AND SHOULD BE COUNTED TOWARD LONGEVITY.

    Mr. Satti was a prosecutor for the City of New London municipal court from July 1, 1955 to January 1, 1961.1 For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that this time should be included for the purposes of computing Mr. Satti's longevity.

    Conn. Gen. Stat. 51-287 a governs longevity payments to the chief state's attorneys, deputy chief state's attorneys and state's attorneys. In order to be eligible for longevity, an individual holding one of the aforementioned positions must have "completed not less than ten years of service as a prosecutorial official of the judicial department." Conn. Gen. Stat. 52-287a. The amount of longevity increases with years of service as a prosecutorial official of the judicial department.

    The question then becomes whether service as a municipal court prosecutor was service as a prosecutorial official of the judicial department at the time the service was rendered. In 1955, when Mr. Satti was first appointed a prosecutor for the City of New London Court, Article Fifth of the Constitution of Connecticut, entitled "Of the Judicial Department," enumerated the various courts of the State of Connecticut. Section 6 of Article Fifth provided:

    The judges of minor courts, including town, city, borough and police courts, shall upon nomination by the governor, be appointed by the general assembly for such time and in such manner as shall be by law prescribed.

    Section 15c of the 1953 Supplement tot he Connecticut General Statutes set the terms of municipal court judges and officials:

    [E]ach judge, associate judge and deputy judge of a town, city, borough or police court shall be appointed for a term of four years from July first in the year of his appointment and no longer, and each prosecuting officer, clerk or other officer of any such court shall be appointed for a term of four years from July first in the year of his appointment, but in no event for a term extending beyond that of the judge or judges presiding in such court.

    Thus, the municipal courts, including the City of f New London Court, were in the judicial department of the state, and Mr. Satti was a prosecuting officer for that court. His service as a municipal court prosecutor was, therefore, "service as a prosecutorial official of the judicial department," and should be counted toward his longevity.

    This conclusion is buttressed by subsequent statutory developments. In 1957 the General Assembly adopted 1957 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 651. Section 1 of that Act, which was codified as Conn. Gen. Stat. 51-1 in the 1958 Revision of the General Statutes descried the "Composition of the [judicial] department."

    The judicial department of the state shall consist of the supreme court of errors, the superior court, the court of common pleas, the juvenile court, the town, city, borough and police courts, the trial justice courts, justice of the peace court, the traffic court of the district of Danbury and the probate courts.

    Conn. Gen. Stat. 51-1 (Rev. of 1958).2 The city, borough, and police courts, as the municipal courts, were governed by Chapter 879 of the General Statutes. Section 15c of the 1953 Supplement, supra, was codified as Conn. Gen. Stat. 51-127 (Rev. of 1958). These statutory provisions remained in force during Mr. Satti's service as City of New London prosecutor. On January 1, 1961, the municipal courts were abolished when 1959 Conn. Pub. Acts No. 28 68 took effect. Accordingly, we conclude that Mr. Satti's service from July 1, 1955 to January 1, 1961 as a municipal court prosecutor was as a prosecutorial officer of the judicial department and, pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 51-287a, should be included in calculating his entitlement to and eligibility for longevity payments.

  2. Mr. Satti should be given full credit toward longevity for this time of service as a municipal court prosecutor and assistant state's attorney.

    Mr. Satti served as a municipal court prosecutor from July 1, 1955 to January 1, 1961. He served as an assistant state's attorney from October 1, 1965 to October 31, 1975. In the questions posed, both of these positions are described as part-time positions. For the reasons set forth below we conclude that Mr. Satti should be given full credit toward longevity for the time he held both these offices. Conn. Gen. Stat. 51-287a provides that:

    Each chief state's attorney and state's attorney who has completed not less than ten years of service as a prosecutorial official of the judicial department, shall receive semiannual longevity payments based on such service....

    The statute then sets different levels of longevity payment based on years of service.

    The statute in question makes no distinction between full-time and part-time service. It only refers to service as a prosecutorial official. Had the legislature wished to distinguish between part and full time service it could have.

    By contrast, Conn. Gen. Stat. 5-213 in the State Personnel Act does draw this distinction,. That statute governs longevity payments for non -collective bargaining state employees. In language strikingly similar to that in Conn. Gen.. Stat. 51-287a, Conn. Gen. Stat. 213 provides in part:

    [E]ach employee in the state service who has completed not less than ten years of state service...shall receive semiannual lump-sum longevity payments based on service completed....

    Conn. Gen. Stat. 5-213(a).

    Subsection (c) of that section provides:

    Part-time, seasonal or intermittent state service shall be credited as state service for the purposes of this section when such part-time seasonal or intermittent service accumulated, totals the calendar years herein above specified.

    Conn. Gen. Stat. 5-213(c). Thus, state employees who receive longevity payments pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 5-213 have part-time service converted to full-time service for that purpose. Conn. Gen. Stat. 51-287a could have provided for the conversion of part-time to full-time service, but did not do so. "The legislature is presumed to have knowledge of existing statutes and to act with the intention of creating a consistent body of law." Warner v. Leslie-Elliott Construction, Inc., 194 Conn. 129, 134, 479 A.2d 231 (1984). "The legislature could easily have enlarged upon this...had it so desired [and] as it has done in [other] areas." Id. at 137. See Buonocore v. Branford, 192 Conn. 399, 403, 471 A.2d 961 (1984).

    Accordingly, we conclude that in calculating Mr. Satti's entitlement to an eligibility for longevity payments, his service as a prosecuting officer in the municipal court and as assistant state's attorney should b e based on the period of time he held these offices, rather than on work actually performed while holding those offices.

  3. MR. SATTI'S WAR SERVICE IS STATE SERVICE WHICH COUNTS TOWARD LONGEVITY.

    Mr. Satti has submitted documentation demonstrating that he entered active service in the United States Marine Corps on November 29,1951 and was honorably discharged on November 14, 1953, after 1 year, 11 months, and 15 days of active military service.3 For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that this time should be included for the purposes of computing Mr. Satti's longevity. Conn. Gen. Stat. 5-255(b) governs credit for war service of veterans.

    The term of employment in the service of the state shall be construed to include, in the case of a veteran, the term of war service of such veteran, and all records of the state which show the length of service in the employment of the state of any such veteran shall be maintained so as to show the length of such war service and the total of such employment service and war service.

    Conn. Gen. Stat. 5-255(bb).

    Conn. Gen. Stat. 27-103(3) defines service in time of war and states in part:

    "[S]ervice in time of war" means service of ninety or more days unless separated from service earlier because of a service connected disability rated by the Veterans' Administration during ... the Korean hostilities, June 27, 1950, to January 31, 1955.

    Conn. Gen. Stat. 27-103(3).

    As Mr. Satti's active military duty occurred during the Korean hostilities, it was service in time of war. He, therefore, is a veteran as that term is defined in Conn. Gen. Stat. 5-196(bb), and his term of service with the state includes the term of his war service. Conn. Gen. Stat. 5-255(b). Accordingly, we conclude that in calculating Mr. Satti's entitlement to and eligibility for longevity payments, his war service should be included as state service.

CONCLUSION

Based on the above analysis, and the facts set forth in the materials submitted to this office, we concluded hat Mr. Satti should be given credit for calculation of longevity pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 51-287a for the following periods of time:

November 29, 1951 to November 14, 1953 for service as a veteran in time of war.

July 1, 1955 to January 1, 1961 for service as a prosecutorial official (municipal court).

October 1, 1965 to October 31, 1975 for service as a prosecutorial official
(assistant state's attorney)

Very truly yours,

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
ATTORNEY GENERAL

Robert A. Whitehead
Assistant Attorney General

RB/RAW:eh
Attachments


1 We note that your question states that Mr. Satti served as a municipal court prosecutor "to January 3, 1961." Since the municipal courts were abolished on January 1, 1961, we assume this is typographical error and that he served to January 1, 1961.

2 The current statutory provision describing the composition of the judicial department is Conn. Gen. Stat. 51-1a. This statute makes no reference to the municipal courts since those courts were abolished thirty years ago in 1961.

3 Your question refers to "two years' credit for war service." The correct amount of time is 1 year, 11 months, and 15 days.


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