Reviews of The Common Flaw


The Federal Lawyer

As Confucius wryly observed, “better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”

Notwithstanding the book’s title, if there is a flaw in this magnificent manuscript, one would need an electron microscope to detect it.

The Pennsylvania Lawyer 

Clearly Judge Moukawsher has put a great deal of thought into looking at the big picture that too many of us in the legal world just accept as part of the territory. Whether they agree with him or not, anyone who cares about contemporary issues facing the administration of justice will appreciate reading Judge Moukawsher’s thought on the subject in The Common Flaw.

Vermont Bar Journal

Over the course of 51 chapters spanning 240 pages, punctuated by 51 pithy cartoons, Moukawsher soundly nails his 50 theses to the law’s front door calling for reform.

Read the full review

The Way We Have Always Done It: On Thomas G. Moukawsher’s “The Common Flaw” Los Angeles Review of Books

Judges are by nature very conservative. We are suspicious of change, and often cite as authority “the way we’ve always done it.” We literally follow old cases for this reason under a convenient Latin term: stare decisis. There is simply no other explanation for yellow legal pads than habit. We wear black robes because, well, we do, and have done so for hundreds of years.

Read the full review


Common Sense Over Formalism: Retiring Judge’s New BookHas Parting Thoughts for CT Judiciary – Connecticut Law Tribune

Ahead of his retirement, Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s new book, The Common Flaw: Needless Complexity in the Courts and 50 Ways to Reduce It, lands on an instructive note.

Read the full review

Conn. Judge To Litigators: Prioritize Substance Over FormConnecticut Pulse

Read the article

Hay Now: Keeping Busy Ahead of SummertimeConnecticut Law Tribune

There was a time in my lifetime, though regrettably it ended before I got my bar license, where the courts shut down for the summer. Heck, if it’s good enough for SCOTUS, it should be good enough for us mere mortals. I wouldn’t expect this to reappear in our lifetimes though. From what judges are telling me, a combination of staffing shortages and pandemic-caused backlogs has resulted in daunting caseloads which mean that the courts will continue to crank out justice every working hour, every working day in all seasons and weather for the foreseeable future.

Read the article

Watershed CT Family Court Parental Alienation Decision By Judge Thomas G. MoukawsherLuthmann Substack

Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher is a man of many parts. A thinker, activist, and writer, he graduated from The Citadel and the University of Connecticut School of Law. He served as a law clerk to the storied William A. O’Neill, the state’s longest-serving Governor in more than 200 years, before embarking on a career in the practice of law and service to the public.

Read the article

Law Needs A Balance Between Humanism And Formalism – Law360

Read the article


Judge Thomas Moukawsher Has 50 Ways to Reduce Needless Court ComplexitiesThe Lisa Wexler Show

Thomas Moukawsher, CT Superior Court Judge, joins Lisa Wexler to discuss his book The Common Flaw in American Courts which outlines what reforms are needed, from filing a complaint, to drafting appellate decisions, in order to create a more human-centered and accessible legal system.

Listen to the episode


Media Comments

Connecticut Law Tribune

July 28, 2021

“Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s decision on mandated masks in Connecticut schools illustrates in clear and engaging prose, the historic and current importance of the separation of powers.”

“By explaining the reasoning, history and context behind his ruling in an easy-to-understand language, the judge did the public—the sovereign, if you will—a favor. In that sense, this was an opinion fit for a king.”

School Mask Mandates and Separation of Powers: A Judicial Opinion Worth Re- Reading. By Connecticut Law Tribune Editorial Board.

CT News Junkie

March 8, 2021

“stunning…” “In the decision, peppered with poetic turns of phrase like ‘slipping comfortably into oblivion,’ Moukawsher concluded that the Legislative branch has an obligation to oversee the ongoing emergency actions of a governor.”

Judge: Executive Orders Require Legislative Approval. By Hugh McQuaid.

New Haven Register

October 2, 2020

“If I were a more profligate hugger and if I thought Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher were the sort of person who liked being hugged and if we were not in the middle of a deadly pandemic, I would hug Judge Thomas Moukawsher.”

“I woke up thinking, we can’t have nice things anymore. Debates aren’t even nice things, and we can’t have those either. And then this man, this occasionally controversial jurist, stood up for the idea that stupid, dangerous fallacies marketed by unqualified people don’t deserve an equal footing with science and truth.”

Colin McEnroe, Why I want to Hug a Superior Court Judge (on the court’s disqualification of anti-mask doctors as experts).

Legal Newsline

January 17, 2019

“Allowing such cases to proceed would lead to a ‘wildly complex and bogus system’…wrote Hartford Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher in a breezy 16-page decision issued Jan. 8.”

CT Judge Rejects Opioid Claims, Says Allowing them Would Lead to ‘Junk Justice.’ By Daniel Fisher.

The Wall Street Journal

January 28, 2019

“Judge Moukawsher noted that the cities costs ‘are long radius and many concentric circles away from the simple observation that promoting more addiction creates more addicts.’” “[P]utting ‘precise numbers’ on damages…would be…‘junk justice…’”

The Government Opioid Raid: A state judge rebukes the trial bar and grasping politicians. By The Editorial Board.

Connecticut Law Tribune

March 14, 2018

“I started reading the judge’s…decisions and discovered a wonderful trove of language.”

“I could read his decisions forever.”

“Moukawsher, J., wastes no time with fools or foolishness. Upon retiring from the bench, he might try faits divers. Genius.”

Moukawsher’s Thoughtful Rulings Reveal a Very Learned Hand. By Mark Dubois.

Hartford Courant

September 8, 2016

“a broad and lucid indictment….”

Editorial: Legislature Must Draft a New Deal For CT Education.

September 18, 2016

“The image of a dapper dresser with a formal streak is reflected in the ornate language of the decision.”

Superior Court Judge Raises Profile with Divisive Education Ruling. By Daniela Altimari.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

September 18, 2016

“…good advice for every state….As Judge Moukawsher concluded, ‘The state has to accept that the schools are its blessing and its burden, and if it cannot be wise, it must at least be sensible.’”

Equity in funding public schools still eludes policymakers. By Maureen Downey.

The Boston Globe

September 29, 2016

“The recent frank rebuke to the Connecticut public school system from a state judge should reverberate in Massachusetts.”

Editorial: A stern warning from the Connecticut Bench.

Chicago Tribune

September 14, 2016.

“Yes, we’re jealous.

We devoured Connecticut Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s 90- page takedown of his state’s education status-quo-hugging system…

We read that with one thought in mind: Where’s ours? Why should Illinoisans be left to press their noses against the glass, pointing at a powerful judge’s assault on a system that mis-serves so many children and pining — We want one of those!

Hard to believe a court ruling could be compelling? Try this: “The state’s definition of what it means to have a secondary education is like a sugar- cube boat. It dissolves before it’s half launched.”

Editorial: Who’ll make the case for children in Illinois?

The New Yorker

September 14, 2016

“… a smartly written, sometimes sardonic, and unusually pointed ninety- page opinion…”

Two Connecticut School Systems, for the Rich and Poor. By Lincoln Kaplan.

The New York Times

September 8, 2016

“A New England judge with a Southerner’s flair for metaphor, he criticized “uselessly perfect teacher evaluations” as part of a rating system, “that is little more than cotton candy in a rainstorm.”

An F Minus for America’s Schools From a Fed-Up Judge. By Kate Zernike.

The New York Times, Quotation of the Day

September 8, 2016

“Like a sugar cube boat. It dissolves before it’s half launched.”

JUDGE THOMAS G. MOUKAWSHER, on Connecticut’s definition of high school proficiency, in his ruling on how the state funds its schools.