Public Defenders For All

I’ve never understood why folks don’t regard public defenders as real lawyers. Some of the best lawyers in the state are public defenders — I am thinking of New Haven’s Thomas Ullman, Beth Merkin and Joe Lopez, among others. What’s more, many folks accused of crimes would be better off with a public defender at their side than with a private lawyer.
I’ll go so far as to say that the single most important criminal justice reform this nation can undertake would be to appoint a public defender for each and every person accused of a crime.
March 12, 2015

Sentencing Reform Overdue in Connecticut

Gov. Dannel Malloy is calling for reform of some of the state's draconian sentencing laws, proposing that mere drug possession be a misdemeanor, and calling for the elimination of mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses. That's all well and good, as a start.
Here's where we should end up. More importantly, here is why we should end up where I propose that we go.
Prisons have become a permanent part of our society, a symbol, really, of our failure to redeem the promise of opportunity for all. There have not always been prisons, and the rage to incarcerate is a...
March 8, 2015

Sentencing and its Discontents

I was sitting with a client, a federal prosecutor and a FBI agent the other night. We were engaged in what is known as a “reverse proffer.” That’s where the government tells a defendant what it intends to prove at trial. The government’s goal is to persuade the accused to enter a guilty plea.
“The maximum penalty you face if convicted is 40 years,” the prosecutor said.
I started to giggle. The prosecutor’s eyes widened.
“That’s a bluff,” I said. There was no way my client would ever be sentenced to such a term of...
March 4, 2015

Defense Lawyers as "Law Enforcement" Officers

At courthouses throughout the state, the public at large is required to walk through a metal detector to gain entrance. This includes criminal defense lawyers. Prosecutors and cops are waved right through the security measures. Why? They are regarded as “law enforcement.”
The distinction is ridiculous, frankly. Criminal defense lawyers are on the front lines of law enforcement daily, demanding that police and the state respect the rights of the accused. In other words, police and the state are required to obey the law – it is defense lawyers who police the...
February 27, 2015

The Fallacy of Accountability

February 26, 2015
Now that we've abolished the death penalty in Connecticut, at least insofar as future cases are concerned, the fate of those currently on death row...

Quick Reviews: All The Light We Cannot See

February 22, 2015
I'm inaugurating a new feature on this blog: quick reviews.
If you're like me, there just isn't enough time to read. I'll post reviews here of...

Inconvenient Truths in Adnan Syed's Case

February 18, 2015
Regulars in the criminal courts develop a certain cynicism. It’s a survival instinct, really. We all know the system isn’t perfect....

The Debt We Owe to the Cross

February 18, 2015
No sooner had news broken that Craig Hicks was accused of killing three young Muslim college students in North Carolina than calls erupted for a...

Alabama Secedes from Union -- Again

February 12, 2015
If you are looking for a compelling reason not to elect judges, look no further than the State of Alabama. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S....

Immunization and Medical Luddites

February 6, 2015
It is perhaps too much to assert that Hartford attorney Dan Klau plays a role roughly akin to conscience in my life, but he does try to correct the...

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Taking Back the Courts
Norm Pattis Taking Back the Courts

The Wizard of Oz was one of my favorites movies as a kid. Little did I know judges were so much like the wizard, hiding behind empty trappings of power. This book tells you things you need to know about what really goes on in court. Read it, weep, and then demand that the courts do better.

In the Trenches
Norm Pattis In the Trenches

Plenty of lawyers write about the law, but few who write try cases. Judge for yourself whether I talk the talk and walk the walk in this collection of occasional essays about life in the law's trenches.

Juries and Justice
Norm Pattis Juries and Justice

How prepared are you to take seriously the notion that 'we the people' are, in fact, sovereign? Discover the secret, and unused, power of jurors. 'Ask why; then nullify.'

Norm Pattis

About Norm

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 150 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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