Say What? Subpoena Shakedown

Wow. The police department in the Town of Redding, Connecticut, is very, very creative.

When police officers in the town are subpoenaed to attend a deposition as fact witnesses in connection with a civil action, they come armed with a bill for their time. The town justifies the practice of billing in such a manner as a request by the party issuing the subpoena for "special duty."

The theory goes something like this. If an officer is subpoenaed as a fact witness in a civil rights case involving a claim of official misconduct by a fellow officer, the town takes the position that the officers are serving as fact witnesses in a case not involving the town.

In such cases, the town takes the position that the officer is on his own time, and not on the town's clock. Hence, the department requests payment for their the officer's time so that the officers don't lose pay. If a party compels an officer's attendance and refuses to pay him for his time, the department tries to change the officer's shift so that he can attend the deposition on town time.

None of this makes any sense to me. A fact witness served with a subpoena gets a statutory travel fee. That is the only requirement at law for payment of a fact witness. How a town can say that an officer under subpoena to testify about official misconduct is on his own time is a mystery to me. More confounding is the claim that the officer is on his own time, but the town will try to take care of him by rescheduling his work is even more myserious. And what's oddest of all is sending a cop with a municipal invoice to cover time that isn't the town's time at all.

What's going on in Redding?
Comments (1)
Posted on January 24, 2010 at 4:00 pm by Mike
I wonder what the Connecticut General Statues say ...
I wonder what the Connecticut General Statues say about paying witnesses? Without even looking, I'd confidently wager that it's illegal.

Moreover, it is certainly a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct to pay a fact witness for his testimony. Are the town lawyers issuing those bills? If so, the Connecticut State Bar should immediately begin an investigation.
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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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