Statement from Attorney General Jepsen on Opening of Settlement
Negotiations, Withdrawal of SCOTUS Petition in SEBAC Case
Attorney General George Jepsen today issued the following statement on the decision to withdraw without prejudice the state’s petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition v. Rowland following SEBAC’s request to open settlement negotiations:
“The decision to suspend our request for Supreme Court review in order to engage in settlement discussions is not one made lightly, but is made with the best interest of Connecticut taxpayers squarely in mind. I have conferred with Governor Malloy, and he fully supports this step and agrees that it is in the best interests of the state.
“In the ten years since this case was filed, no substantive discussions seeking a resolution to this case have ever occurred. After the filing of our petition for certiorari, the unions have come forward proposing to negotiate a settlement. In withdrawing the petition without prejudice at this time, the state reserves the right to file our petition again should those negotiations not bear fruit. To be clear: We can and will file a petition for certiorari at a later stage if necessary, raising the same issues – and perhaps others – with equal force.
“Withdrawal of the petition is a necessary condition for meaningful negotiations to take place. As a practical matter, given the complexity of this case and the other pending related cases, these discussions simply cannot be completed in the time before the Supreme Court would rule upon our petition. At the same time, any such decision by the court on the petition before negotiations are completed would dramatically alter the parties’ bargaining positions and impede productive discussions by removing the uncertainty that hangs over both parties today.
“Since taking office, I have made it a priority of my administration to allow all parties – regardless of the circumstances – an opportunity to solve problems through frank and fair discussions. This matter is no different. I believe any responsible attorney confronted with similar circumstances – be it in a public or private lawsuit – would advise their client to explore settlement. Indeed, given the potential fiscal stakes involved here, it would be particularly irresponsible not to explore the possibility of an equitable resolution.
“Both SEBAC and the state recognize the uncertainty we each face in this case. It is widely known that the Supreme Court rejects the overwhelming majority of petitions for certiorari, but I believe the unions also recognize that our petition is unusually strong.
“Justified or not, these lay-offs undeniably burdened thousands of families, all of whom have been living without resolution for more than a decade. Continued uncertainty benefits no one, and both the unions and the state acknowledge the very real potential of many more years of expensive litigation if the case does not settle. My hope is that these circumstances – and mutual uncertainties – will be uniquely conducive to productive discussions. I caution, however, that the unions’ settlement expectations must be reasonable and must take into account the fiscal pressures under which the state continues to struggle.
“I am confident that the petition has brought the unions to the table under circumstances favorable to reasonable discussions, and I’m prepared to meet them there in good faith. Should a resolution not prove possible, however, Connecticut taxpayers can rest assured that I will act accordingly with their best interests in mind, as I feel is my ethical responsibility as their Attorney General.”