The Forgotten Case Of S.C. 18178

We ask a lot of clients when we ask them to trust that justice will be done in the courts. While we seek to improve public confidence in the courts, there is still plenty of reason to be suspect.

Consider a case of mine. His case is docked under number S.C. 18178.I write about it now with the client’s consent, but I do not use his name. I write about it because I cannot get the courts to act, and my client has grown weary of waiting for justice. I write out of a sense of despair.

The man pleaded under the Alford doctrine on the eve of trial to offenses arising from the complaint of a young child for whom he had baby sat. Such a plea reflects a compromise: the client does not acknowledge doing what he is charged with; he merely agreed to accept a plea because the terms are better than what he would get if a jury believed the state’s case.

My client received no jail sentence. He was told by his trial lawyer and the trial judge at sentencing that he would not have to register as a sex offender. The state said nothing as the lawyer and judge assured the client he would not have to register.

Here is what was said at the time the plea was entered. "[I]t is our understanding and belief, I think as well as the State’s attorney, that none of these charges carry any sexual offender registration," his lawyer said. "That is my understanding," the judge echoed.

By used-car lot standards the client had struck a deal and knew what he was buying. An implied condition of this unholy contract was no registration.But we all know that the exalted and rarefied standards of a used car lot far exceed what measure of justice we offer those accused of crimes. In the criminal court, the implied condition can be condensed to the following rule: Screw the defendant to the wall anyway you can. Errors at trial are harmless. Lawyers provide effective assistance of counsel even when asleep. Trials need only be fair, not perfect. The presumption of innocence is a three-dollar whore, and many courts continue to argue her cost is too high.

After sentencing, the client sought to go about the difficult task of rebuilding his life. Imagine his surprise when well after the plea he was informed that he would have to register as a sex offender.

I got involved in his case after a handful of other lawyers had tried and failed to extricate the client from this lawless nightmare. Just barely I was able to keep him out of jail. He registered as an offender, and now lives with the unbearable strain of a crackpot neighbor’s monitoring his every move. She thinks she’s protecting the world. When my client asks for protection from her, the police ignore him.

The life of a sex offender is nasty and brutish, you see.

So I appealed the requirement that he be placed on the registry. I filed my brief in the Appellate Court of the State of Connecticut. For reasons unknown to me, the state Supreme Court moved the case to its docket. And I argued on behalf of my client. The argument took place in mid-October 2008, eighteen months ago.

I did not think the argument before the justices went well. "Why didn’t your client petition for habeas corpus relief?" one justice asked. "The remedy he seeks is the benefit of the bargain he struck. He does not want a new trial," I answered.
From time to time my client asks me when the court will act. I tell him I do not know. There is nothing I can do. We have petitioned Oz. We must now wait.

But how long must this man wait for a decision? Forever?I called the Supreme Court clerk’s officer the other day to make sure I hadn’t missed publication of the decision. The case is still undecided, I was told. I passed word along to my client. His response is privileged.

How long, Madame Chief Justice, must we wait for a decision in this simple case? Will it be another month, or another year? Justice delayed is justice denied, I’ve heard it said. Clarence Darrow once observed, there is no justice in or our of court. Had Darrow lived and practiced in our fair state, he might also have added: "There are no final decisions, either."

Reprinted courtesy of the Connecticut Law Tribune.

Comments: (3)

  • What about AC 23941, where the State appointed an ...
    What about AC 23941, where the State appointed an out-of-state, hack attorney to do an appeal of my CT cases? The Public Defenders Office for Appeals promised that an attorney would be appointed and come and visit me to 'discuss the issues which I wished to appeal'.
    This never happened. This hack attorney filed a pro forma appeal without visiting me as promised. He never sought my input or approval. He filed an appeal on my behalf without asking me or telling me. I never met him until the date of oral hearings which I attended. One of the justices asked the most ridiculous questions one could imagine. Did this lady justice just walk in off the street. By the nature of the questions, you knew that she knew absolutely nothing about the cases, that she was not 'prepared'. That justice will not be identified, and those questions not repeated here. Needless to say, I lost the appeal.
    It was a walk-through, an appeal for show, for theater. Everybody went thru their pathetic motions, and everybody presumably got paid,...except me. The so-called appeal was presumably about me and my cases, but had nothing to do with same. It was a pretext for the State to say, "See, we gave you an appeal; but we're sorry, you lost!" There is no way the State was going to allow me to win on appeal, and make the State, the prosecutors and the judges below look foolish.
    No one with any first-hand knowledge of the Ct. State Judiciary should be surprised by the developments in #18178 above,...or lack therof. How does the State get to hit a defendant, with no prior criminal record, with thirteen criminal charges outside the statute of limitations? In eight years, no one has been able to give me satisfactory answer to that one. 'Harmless error', I suppose. When I told this Mike Lawlor's face, his jaw dropped and he looked at me like I was stew-pid.
    No, Mr. Lawlor, I'm not stew-pid. Your judicial system is stew-pid. You clearly operate outside the bounds of the Constitutional protections and guarantees for individual citizens. You refuse to acknowledge and correct errors. You and your judicial personnel are unaccountable and 'above the law', apparently (except for sexual misconduct--on the job--or bribe-taking, as told to me).
    How comes the State puts down a 'felony' conviction on the official record of 01-502506, when there was no felony conviction. This was described to me as a 'scrivener's error'. Call it whatever you like. I call it a malicious and criminal act by an out-of-control prosecutor's office which had a vendetta against me for reasons unknown. I have no record of this error ever being corrected, and to my knowledge has not been corrected.
    These are just two of appproximately thirty errors committed in my cases, which errors are unacknowledged and uncorrected after eight years. It does not help that if you should file a civil rights complaint against the City and/or State, as suggested by his Eminence Antonin Scalia, that case gets assigned to judges like Chatigny, the go-to guy to dispose of these pesky, annoying, petty little civil rights cases.
    It does not help that the new Attorney General, Eric Holder is holding his head in the sand and does not want to see these cases either. These bums need to be thrown out by their ears, and hopefully that will happen with the next election. I see a sea-change on the horizon, contrary to the sheeple who constantly refrain, "You can't fight city hall."
    Why not. I voted with my feet. There are 49 other states which, hopefully, are not as bad as the nutty state, a Bermuda Triangle of the Mind. Nothing proves this more succinctly than the disarray and dysfunctionality of the CT State Judiciary.
    And now the State passes a law to provide 'compensation' to police officers who are traumatized by the killing of a 'mammal'. This is truly, truly bizarre, but par for the course in the UnKonstitution State, a state in serious denial. I voted with my feet, yes I did.
    Posted on April 29, 2010 at 4:16 am by William Doriss
  • The state tried to entrap me in such a way that I ...
    The state tried to entrap me in such a way that I would likely be put into the sex offender category. This was the state's response when I filed a criminal complaint against corporate attorneys of a statewide law firm for stealing thousands of dollars of medical films of mine meant for an operation on my neck. I eluded the several entrapment attempts; which were I expect also meant to entrap me into some drug crime. I find it notable that the state's attorneys would try to entrap me for a sex crime. I guess I looked like an easy, vulnerable target for this--single, older, modest income, living in a mixed-race neighborhood in Bridgeport. A sex offender if a jury ever saw one, as the state realizes in its visciousness. Sexual crimes are among the most damaging of crimes individuals can be accused and convicted of, or in the case Pattis outlines, enter into a plea regarding--not only because of the way such a crime sticks with ones convicted of it, but because of the stigma in society (as Pattis also writes about). The prurience and luridness of American society which makes this so is a topic for another time. Here, I just want to add this note that sex crimes are a favorite way for the state to target individuals which from its own perversions it has a special animus toward. I know a lot about this. How the malicious state's attorneys and their accomplices went about trying to entrap me for a sex crime is narrated in detail at the ebook at my blog/website.
    Posted on April 29, 2010 at 8:39 am by Henry Berry
  • Norm, give yourself a little 'hope' reading. Go ba...
    Norm, give yourself a little 'hope' reading. Go back and read your 'Padilla' posting. While it is a higher court and different circumstances, I found it uplifting... you should as well. Perhaps the despair you feel tonight is only compounded by the multiple trials for other unfortunates who've been labeled for life. It seems they cannot even get the 'flames' going before they strap them to the stake.... and then... moveover, another 'witch' to burn.
    I pray that you will be successful for this young man and that your 'bold' blog of this matter will wake the few who've buried it thus far. Agony. 18 months.
    I know what life becomes when each morning you watch the clock to see if it is 11:30am...the time when the Appellate and Supreme Courts allow you to read their Decisions. At first, you are relieved not to see your name. Then you make the mistake of reading other cases/decisions... more despair. Then, months of anquish and the decision is 'listed.' You foolishly allow yourself to speculate that if it took so long, it must be good? And when it is not, what little fragments of hope you had burn like ashes around you! Yet - at least an 'answer.' Time to mourn again.
    This epidemic is everywhere - affects everyone. Ignorance!!! I remember a time when a dear friend of mine owned a boutique in our village. Then one day we all found out that her beautiful 30-something son had a 'virus' and was not going to get better. It was the mid '80s. Soon the whispers started, as more beautiful sons became ill with this 'virus.' Eventually, my friend, Margaret's, son died. People stopped buying from her boutique - they stopped going in just for the friendly coffee - they stopped altogether. She lost her business. Eventually, she had to sell her home. Afterall, it might have been contagious.
    Well, this 'virus' just wears a 'new suit.' There is a way to avoid it however. Run like hell at the first sign of anyone under 18. No hugs, no kisses, no bedtime stories - RUN. This 'virus' IS contageous. It desroys families, incomes, mental and physical health, and evenutally, you give up...
    When I read these cases/blogs everyday - newspaper, internet, tv news, - I remember the nigth I received the 'phone' call about my loved one... An attorney I worked with for many years and one of my closest friends, drove 50 miles, 10pm at night to sit with me and my husband and tried to counsel.... I looked at him clouded by the tornado around me and said - 'My God, this can't have happened...not to him...not to us... It makes NO SENSE! You hear about this all the time but it's never someone you know - It's always the other Guy...' My friend replied, if you live long enough, YOU become the other guy.
    I wonder what the next 'virus' will look like?
    Posted on April 29, 2010 at 6:01 pm by WeDeClare

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