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You're Up, Second Circuit: NYC Judge Strikes DOMA

Everybody who’s anybody is taking a swipe at the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) these days.

It’s like marriage equality is the new black, or DOMA is the new Affordable Care Act.

Now, a federal judge in New York City has given the Second Circuit Court of Appeals an opportunity to get in on the action. Wednesday, District Judge Barbara Jones ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional because it improperly interferes with states’ rights to regulate marriage, reports Reuters.

Gross v. Rell, No. 08-2626

In a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action alleging that the state unlawfully established an involuntary conservatorship over plaintiff, dismissal of the complaint is affirmed in part where the judge responsible for the conservatorship did not act in the clear absence of subject matter jurisdiction, and he was not aware of the defects in personal jurisdiction, making judicial immunity appropriate.  However, as to the issue of quasi-judicial immunity under Connecticut law, the court certified the following question to the Connecticut Supreme Court:  What is the role of conservators, court-appointed attorneys for conservatees, and nursing homes in the Connecticut probate court system, in light of the six factors for determining quasi-judicial immunity outlined in Cleavinger v. Saxner, 474 U.S. 193, 201-02 (1985)?

Read Gross v. Rell, No. 08-2626

Appellate Information

Argued: May 20, 2009

Question Certified: October 27, 2009


Opinion by Judge Straub


For Appellant:

Sall R. Zanger, Connecticut Legal Rights Project, Inc., Middletown, CT

For Appellees:

Gregory T. D'Auria, Jane R. Rosenberg, Clare Kindall, Associate Attorneys General, Hartford, CT