TRAYSTMAN, CORIC AND KERAMIDAS
ANDREW J. DAIGLE
Lavery, C. J., and Bishop and West, Js.
Argued June 10—officially released September 7, 2004
(Appeal from Superior Court, judicial district of New
London at Norwich, Hon. D. Michael Hurley, judge
Lloyd L. Langhammer
, for the appellant (plaintiff).
Martin M. Rutchik
, with whom was
Sharon L. Gibbs
for the appellee (defendant).
WEST, J. In this action on a promissory note to pay
$26,873 for legal services, the plaintiff law firm, Traystman,
Coric and Keramidas, appeals from the judgment
of the trial court, rendered after a trial to the court,
concluding that the note was void and unenforceable.
The issue on appeal is whether the court properly found
that the note was signed under duress.1 We affirm the
judgment of the trial court.
The court found the following facts. The plaintiff
represented the defendant, Andrew J. Daigle, in his
divorce case. A second year associate from the firm,
Scott McGowan, handled the defendant’s two day
divorce trial. After the first day of trial, April 10, 2002,
McGowan told the defendant that he must sign a promissory
note in the amount of $26,973, representing
amounts then owed to the firm, or else he would withdraw
from the case, and the defendant would be forced
either to get another attorney or to proceed by himself.
The defendant responded that he wanted another attorney,
Martin M. Rutchik,2 to examine the note. McGowan
urged the defendant to sign the note and assured him
that a copy would be sent to Rutchik. Feeling that he
had no other choice, the defendant signed the note
dated April 10, 2002. The defendant claimed that the
words ‘‘[d]ated at Norwich, Connecticut, this 12 day
of April, 2002,’’ handwritten onto the note above his
signature, were written by someone else after he had
signed the note. The court concluded that the note was
signed under duress. On appeal, the plaintiff claims that
the court’s findings supporting its conclusion are clearly
erroneous. We disagree.
‘‘[O]ur function . . . is not to examine the record to
see if the trier of fact could have reached a contrary