Attorney General: Honorable Marc Ryan, Secretary, Office of Policy and Management, 2004-016 Formal Opinion, Attorney General of Connecticut

Attorney General's Opinion

Attorney General, Richard Blumenthal

September 23, 2004

Honorable Marc Ryan
Secretary
Office of Policy and Management
410 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

Dear Secretary Ryan:

This letter responds to your August 3, 2004 amended request for a formal opinion as to whether Dr. D. Ray Sirry, the Juan F. Court Monitor, would be entitled to indemnification from the State in connection with services he has agreed to provide to the State to assist it in implementing reforms at the Connecticut Juvenile Training School (CJTS). We conclude that under the circumstances as you describe them and pursuant to the Revised Monitoring Order, as long as Dr. Sirry's activities relate to "the performance of his duties" in the Juan F. class action, the State is required to indemnify him.

We understand the relevant facts to be as follows: On December 31, 2003, the District Court entered the Revised Monitoring Order, in accordance with a Stipulation of the parties. Pursuant to the Revised Monitoring Order, the Court established a three person Transition Task Force (Task Force) comprised of Dr. Sirry, the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management (OPM). The Task Force "shall assume all decision-making authority having a substantial impact on the safety and welfare of members of the Juan F. class, which authority is otherwise reserved solely to the Commissioner of DCF . . . ." Stipulation, 2.

According to your letter, the State has asked Dr. Sirry to assist it in "implementing important reforms at the CJTS" by "sharing his vast experience and knowledge with the State to better the conditions at the training school." You state that Dr. Sirry's services at CJTS "would be related to his present duties as the Juan F. court monitor and as a member of the Transition Task Force under the recent court order." CJTS provides services to members of the Juan F. class who are in the custody of DCF as a result of being abused, neglected or abandoned and are therefore subject to the consent decree and Revised Monitoring Order. In particular, approximately ten percent of the CJTS client population are members of the Juan F. class1 and it is likely that, in the future, members of the Juan F. class may also be committed to CJTS.

The Revised Monitoring Order governs the issue of indemnification and provides that: "The State of Connecticut shall defend, indemnify and hold harmless, to the same extent as state employees, the DCF Court Monitor and his staff in any litigation or proceeding involving the Court Monitor and his staff in the performance of their duties." Section VIII (emphasis added). Section IA of the Revised Monitoring Order provides that:

The DCF Court Monitor shall assume any and all duties set forth in this Order, the Order of July 29, 2003, the October 7, 2003 Order, and the additional Stipulation ordered by the Court dated October 7, 2003 concerning the federal Child and Family Services Review (collectively "the Orders"), and any subsequent orders entered by the court.

In addition, Section II, titled "Duties and Responsibilities of the DCF Court Monitor," provides in relevant part that:

The DCF Court Monitor shall:

A. Monitor implementation and compliance with the provisions of the Orders and Exit Plan.
B. Perform the duties specified in the October 7, 2003 Order and subsequent orders. . . .

Accordingly, pursuant to the Revised Monitoring Order, the State is required to indemnify Dr. Sirry for any actions taken "in the performance of his duties" as those duties have been defined under the Revised Monitoring Order and other relevant court orders. These duties include oversight and decision-making authority, as a member of the Task Force, with respect to matters "having a substantial impact on the safety and welfare of members of the Juan F. class." Stipulation 2. Because a portion of the CJTS population is comprised of members of the Juan F. class, Dr. Sirry's responsibilities at and concerning that facility, as you describe them, appear to be sufficiently related to his duties as the Juan F. Court Monitor and as a Task Force member that those duties would be considered to be in the "performance of [his] duties" under the Revised Monitoring Order. Accordingly, Dr. Sirry's services at the CJTS, assuming they are taken in the performance of his court ordered duties, would be subject to indemnification and defense from the State.

I trust that this letter responds to your question.

Very truly yours,


RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
ATTORNEY GENERAL


1 The plaintiffs in the Juan F class are composed of (1) all children who are, or will be in the future, in the care, custody or supervision of the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families (DCF), as a result of being abused, neglected or abandoned or being found at risk of such maltreatment; and (2) all children about whom DCF knows, or should know, are now, or will be abused, neglected or abandoned, or who are, or will be at risk of such maltreatment.


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