Sep
04

CCDLA: A Call For Poll Of The Executive Committee

I am a come-and-go member of the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. I say come and go because I from time to time quit in a huff about one thing or another. Just now, I am on the cusp of taking my dues elsewhere. But first, I would like some answers from the CCDLA executive committee.

Is it true that one of the executive committee members wrote to federal prosecutors urging a criminal investigation of a prominent Connecticut criminal defense lawyer? I am told that this is true. But I do not know it to be so. Rumor swirls right now about an investigation focused on the relationship between Waterbury State's Attorney John Connelly and Martin Minnella. A federal grand jury is pressing hard, reviewing files in the state's attorney's office and seeking to review records in Minnella's firm. I represent Mr. Minnella.

The other day, I asked the president-elect of the CCDLA, Jennifer Zito, to voice opposition to the federal government's decision to contact current and former clients of Mr. Minnella's. I do not know what the executive committee will do, if anything. But the scope of the investigation seems ominous to me.

But before the committee considers action on this topic, the committee should be polled, and each member should be asked the following question: Have you written or signed a letter to federal prosecutors suggesting or requesting that a criminal defense lawyer be investigated by federal prosecutors? Clearly, a "yes" answer to this question would disqualify the committee member from participating in any discussion of whether CCDLA should take a position on the investigation. It might also call into question whether the committee member should be on the committee at all.

The members of the Executive Committee are as follows: Conrad Seifert, President; Jennifer Zito, President-Elect, with a term to begin on September 16, 2010; Leonard Crone, Vice President; Moira Buckley, Secretary; John T. Walkley, Treasurer. The association's parliamentarian is Richard Emanuel.

I have been told by several sources that a committee member played a key role in initiating an investigation of Minnella. Before I pay another set of dues, I want to know if this is true, and, if so, what the committee's view of such conduct is. At a minimum, it seems that a leader in an association dedicated to serving the state's criminal defense bar has a fiduciary responsibility to the membership. Is that duty served by behaving as an informant for the federal government?

Most criminal defense lawyers take a dim view of confidential informants: we call them snitches, rats and other names. Some lawyers refuse to represent people who want to flip, or become informants. Is the CCDLA leadership harboring a snitch?

I really want to know the answer to this question. I am hoping the question can be answered by the next annual meeting on September 16 at the Mohegan Sun casino. If it's not answered, I may just put the question to the committee myself; I am, after all, scheduled to be a speaker at the meeting, so I know I will have everyone's attention, if only for a moment.

NOTE: The following comment was posted on another site and forwarded to me: Pamala wrote:


"For some reason I could not post a comment on the article website. What I want to post is this: The government likes to float red herrings. I think this is one of them. The government has no use for the CCDLA. This is a way to divide and weaken the organization. Why not name the sources in the same way the Board members have been named and accused? "
 
First, I am not the government. I am a member of CCDLA and I have no interest in weakening the organization.
 
Second, I have not accused anyone. I am asking for a poll of the board. If someone cares to confront a board member afterward, they can decide to come forward.
 
Finally, it is a legitimate question and should be answered. Obsfucation and blaming the messenger is not an answer.
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About Norm Pattis

Norm Pattis is a Connecticut based trial lawyer focused on high stakes criminal cases and civil right violations. He is a veteran of more than 100 jury trials, many resulting in acquittals for people charged with serious crimes, multi-million dollar civil rights and discrimination verdicts, and scores of cases favorably settled.

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I believe that the state is a necessary fiction and that failing to combat it is the first step toward tyranny.
– Norm Pattis

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