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Matza v. Matza

627 A.2d 414 (1993)

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Matza v. Matza

Connecticut Supreme Court

627 A.2d 414 (1993)

Facts

In June 1988, Jane W. Matza (defendant) and Richard A. Matza (plaintiff) began dissolution-of-marriage proceedings. Jane was first represented by Gary I. Cohen in the proceedings. However, Cohen filed a motion with the court to withdraw his representation on the ground that he was unable to provide Jane with effective representation. Cohen’s motion was granted, and Arnold M. Potash became Jane’s attorney. However, Jane discharged Potash, which resulted in a trial continuance so that Jane could obtain a third attorney, J. Daniel Sagarin. After an additional continuance, the trial was set for May 16, 1990, in front of Judge Ottaviano. On the day of the trial, Jane tried to discharge Sagarin, who moved to withdraw his representation per Jane’s request. The matter was referred to Judge Mihalakos, who denied the motion. The trial then began but was suspended for the parties to negotiate a settlement. The negotiations were unsuccessful, and the trial was set to continue on June 17, 1991. Sagarin then moved to withdraw his representation again. Upon Sagarin’s request, Judge Mihalakos considered the motion instead of Judge Ottaviano, so that Jane would not be prejudiced in the divorce proceedings. Although Jane objected, the trial court held a hearing on the motion, during which Sagarin stated that continuing his representation would result in aiding Jane’s fraudulent or improper conduct. Sagarin also requested an in camera review of the affidavit he had submitted in support of his motion. The request was granted. Upon reviewing the affidavit, Judge Mihalakos learned that Jane wanted to submit a financial affidavit that Sagarin believed to be false based on Jane’s refusal to sign the affidavit and based on a call he received from another attorney with knowledge on the matter. Judge Mihalakos granted Sagarin’s motion. A judgment on the dissolution-of-marriage proceeding was finally rendered on February 21, 1991. Jane submitted a motion for a mistrial, which the trial court denied. Jane appealed the decision. As part of the appeal, the Connecticut Supreme Court considered whether Sagarin was entitled to withdraw his representation.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Borden, J.)

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