Connecticut ends newspaper publication of court notices

Pennoyer v. Neff noticeThe Hartford Courant reports that the Connecticut state courts will no longer require parties to publish court notices in local papers, effective January 2. Instead, notices will be published in a dedicated court website.

The practice of court notice by publication, sometimes called constructive notice, goes back centuries. It is designed to assure that all interested parties are informed of legal proceedings, especially when those parties cannot be found personally. Indeed, constructive notice played a central role in two of the most famous Supreme Court cases in history. In Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co. (1950), the Court signed off on constructive notice for parties who could not be reasonably ascertained at the time the suit was filed. In Pennoyer v. Neff (1877), the infamous bane of many a first-year law student, the Court based its personal jurisdiction analysis on the premise that constructive notice alone was not enough for the Oregon courts to exercise power over an out-of-state defendant.

Constructive notice is founded on the assumption that if notice is published somewhere, the interested parties are reasonably likely to learn about the proceeding. That itself is a bit of a fiction — the notice in Pennoyer v. Neff was published in a local religious publication called the Pacific Christian Reporter — hardly a paper of major import or geographical reach. But with the unquestioned dominance of the internet in our lives, and the ongoing struggles of the newspaper industry, it is probably more fair to post notices online that in the paper anyway. Newspaper publishers might be rightly angry about the development, but with 2020 on the horizon, it seems sensible for the Connecticut courts to embrace the twenty-first century.

Pictured: The newspaper notice in Pennoyer v. Neff

One thought on “Connecticut ends newspaper publication of court notices”

  1. Interesting development, and, important as well. Just worth to note:

    Not only publication, but should appear or published in an appropriate frequency, as in the case of ” Neff “, I quote from the Syllabus : “…..and for such length of time as may be deemed reasonable, not less than once a week for six weeks “, what probably would increase chances for the notice to be read by defendant.

    One may argue indeed, that such notice in the website of the court, shall stay there “floating” long duration. Correct. Yet, not to forget:

    We must assume, that the person served, has no awareness at all about such proceedings against him or whatever. Now, daily newspaper, is accessible, is read, for other general reasons. But, why would a person, having no awareness or idea about pending proceedings, access and look, in the website of the court ? You can imagine : NYT, Washington post etc… But, why the website of the court? So, such idea or practice or doctrine, should be learned, spread, or educated. The greater public should “digest” it.

    Also the issue of navigation. Not everyone, knows how to navigate properly a website. But, newspaper, in the old fashion way, well, that is more than reasonable expectation, from every person.



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