The Division of Criminal Justice
The Division of Criminal Justice is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of all criminal matters in the State of Connecticut.
It is an independent agency of the executive branch of state government, established under the Constitution of the State of Connecticut.
The Division of Criminal Justice is composed of the Office of the Chief State's Attorney, located in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, and the Offices of the State's Attorneys for each of the thirteen Judicial Districts in the State of Connecticut.
ON NOVEMBER 28, 1984, the Secretary of the State officially certified the adoption of Article 23 of the Connecticut Constitution. Approved by the voters in that month's election, the six-sentence Constitutional Amendment established the Division of Criminal Justice as an agency of the Executive Branch of State government.
The Division of Criminal Justice consists of the Office of the Chief State's Attorney and the State's Attorneys for each of the 13 Judicial Districts in Connecticut. They, along with Assistant State's Attorneys, are Connecticut's prosecutors -- the public officials known in many other states, and in TV lore, as District Attorneys, or the "D.A."
The Division employs more than 450 prosecutors, inspectors and administrative and support staff who are responsible for the investigation and prosecution of crime in Connecticut. The major units are:
- The Office of the Chief State's Attorney in Rocky Hill, Connecticut , which is responsible for the overall administration of the Division. In addition, the office has specialized units focusing on public integrity crimes, abuse of the elderly and appeals brought by individuals convicted of crimes.
- The thirteen State's Attorneys, who serve as the chief prosecutor for their respective judicial district.
- Geographical Area, or G.A. offices which are responsible for the prosecution of less serious criminal offenses and traffic cases (infractions).
- Superior Court for Juvenile Matters prosecutors, who are responsible for the prosecution of most criminal matters involving defendants under age 18.
- Housing court prosecutors, whose responsibilities include prosecuting landlords charged with such offenses as criminal violations of health and safety regulations.
The Criminal Justice Commission was established by the Constitutional Amendment that created the Division of Criminal Justice. The Commission is responsible for the appointment of state prosecutors in Connecticut. This includes the Chief State's Attorney, the Deputy Chief State's Attorneys, the State's Attorneys for the thirteen Judicial Districts, and the Assistant State's Attorneys who serve throughout the system.
The Criminal Justice Commission consists of six members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the General Assembly. Two of the members must be Judges of the Superior Court. The Chief State's Attorney serves as an ex-officio member of the Commission, and the Chair is designated by the Governor.
The Honorable Andrew J. McDonald, Associate Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court, was appointed Chair in 2017 by Governor Dannel P. Malloy.
In addition to Justice McDonald and Chief State's Attorney Richard J. Colangelo, Jr., who serves as an ex-officio member, the current members of the Criminal Justice Commission are:
- The Honorable Melanie L. Cradle, Judge of the Connecticut Appellate Court.
- Robert Berke, an attorney since 1992 who practices in the fields of civil and criminal litigation in state and federal courts.
- Reginald Dwayne Betts, a poet, memoirist and attorney.
- Scott Murphy, who served as State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of New Britain from 1998 until 2011 and Executive Director of the Judicial Review Council from 2012 until 2014.
- Moy N. Ogilvie, Esq., Partner, McCarter & English, Hartford.
The Chief State's Attorney's Office is responsible for the overall administration of the Division of Criminal Justice. The office is divided into the Administrative and Operations subdivisions.
The Administrative branch coordinates the activities of the Chief State's Attorney's Office and the thirteen State's Attorney's offices, serves as the liaison between the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government, and is responsible for the payroll, personnel, purchasing, information technology, training and labor relations for the Division of Criminal Justice as well as the oversight of Division offices and facilities and the securing and administration of grants from the federal government and other sources.
The Operations branch oversees the specialized investigative and prosecutorial units in the Chief State's Attorney's Office. These units are equipped to investigate and prosecute matters that involve more than one Judicial District, or which require specialized skills and/or highly technical resources that are not generally available in the local State's Attorney's office. Each bureau is headed by a Supervisory Assistant State's Attorney.
Chief State's Attorney Richard J. Colangelo, Jr., is responsible for overall administration of the Division of Criminal Justice.
John J. Russotto is Deputy Chief State's Attorney for Administration, Personnel and Finance. He oversees the Division units responsible for Financial and Administrative Services, Information Technology, Human Resources, Affirmative Action, Division of Criminal Justice offices and facilities, and Grants and Contracts.
Kevin D. Lawlor is Deputy Chief State's Attorney for Operations. He oversees the Appellate Bureau, Civil Litigation Bureau, Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, Statewide Prosecution Unit (including the Cold Case Unit and Witness Protection Program) and Workers' Compensation Fraud Control Unit.
The Office of the Chief State's Attorney is located at 300 Corporate Place, Rocky Hill, Connecticut, approximately 10 miles south of Hartford. To reach the Office of the Chief State's Attorney, take Interstate 91 to Exit 23 and follow the green highway signs to "Chief State's Attorney's Office."
The first public prosecutor in America, Richard Edwards, was appointed in Hartford, Connecticut on April 3, 1705. For nearly 300 years, his legacy has continued in Connecticut through the Chief State's Attorney, Deputy Chief State's Attorneys and State's Attorneys who, as the officers of the Division of Criminal Justice, are responsible for the investigation and prosecution of all criminal offenses in the State of Connecticut. Unlike most states, where the Attorney General is responsible for the prosecution of criminal offenses, in Connecticut the Attorney General generally exercises only civil jurisdiction.
The concept of public prosecution -- that a crime is not only a wrong inflicted against a victim but also a wrong committed against society -- had its beginning in Connecticut. Indeed, as early as 1643, Connecticut colonists utilized a grand jury to investigate crime. Having pre-dated the American Revolution by some 70 years, Richard Edwards actually was appointed by the Queen of England pursuant to a statute mandating that "henceforth there shall be in every countie a sober, discreet and religious person appointed by the Countie Courts to be Atturney for the Queen, to prosecute and implead in the lawe all criminal offenders, and to doe all other things necessary or convenient as an atturney to suppresse vice and immorality." The power of appointment resided in the County Courts until they were abolished in 1855, at which time appointments of state's attorneys were made by the Judges of the Superior Court. Thus, Connecticut's prosecutors were a part of the Judicial Branch of state government and were appointed by the Superior Court. However, in 1984, an amendment to the Connecticut constitution was approved by the voters transferring the Division of Criminal Justice to the Executive Branch.
Consistent with the ancient common law powers of prosecution, the state's attorneys became constitutional officers and the Division of Criminal Justice became a constitutional agency in the executive branch mandated by the state charter to investigate and prosecute crime: "There shall be established within the executive department a division of criminal justice which shall be in charge of the investigation and prosecution of all criminal matters...."
The constitutional amendment also created a Criminal Justice Commission comprised of the Chief State's Attorney and six members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the General Assembly, two of whom must be Judges of the Superior Court. The Criminal Justice Commission is the hiring authority for all prosecutors. Thus, unlike other states where prosecutors are elected, all of Connecticut's prosecutors are selected, based on merit, by an independent commission.
In 1996, the Division of Criminal Justice absorbed the responsbility for prosecuting all criminal matters involving juvenile offenders, which previously had been handled by state's advocates employed by the Judicial Branch. The completion of this transfer marked the expansion of Division of Criminal Justice jurisdiction to include all criminal offenses, whether in juvenile or adult court.
Despite these important constitutional and structural changes, the fact remains that for nearly three centuries Connecticut's prosecutors, now numbering some 250, continue to follow a mandate very much like that of their predecessor, Richard Edwards. They fulfill this mission through the investigation and prosecution of all criminal matters in the Superior Court, including crimes of statewide scope or that require special investigative expertise.
The Division of Criminal Justice also represents the State of Connecticut in all appellate and other post-trial and post-conviction proceedings related to criminal matters. More than 350,000 criminal and motor vehicle cases are disposed by Connecticut's criminal courts on an annual basis. The state's criminal caseload is largely driven by arrests of the Connecticut State Police and the municipal police departments throughout the state. These arrests are prosecuted in 33 Judicial District and Geographic Area courts administered by the Judicial Branch.
In July of 1996, the jurisdiction for prosecuting juvenile offenders (generally, those individuals under age 18) was transferred to the Division of Criminal Justice. This was the last component of the prosecutorial system in Connecticut to be transferred from the Judicial Branch of state government to the Executive Branch. Cases involving juveniles are heard in the Superior Court for Juvenile Matters, which has thirteen locations throughout Connecticut. Follow this link for a list of those locations.
The appointment of housing court prosecutors is outlined in state statute, which also spells out their responsibilities. The mission of the housing court prosecutor is to enforce state and local housing and health laws, codes and ordinances. Housing court prosecutors work closely with fire marshals and health inspectors and bring criminal violations to the Housing Division of the Superior Court. Follow this link for a listing of Housing Court prosecutors.
To learn more about the Division of Criminal Justice, follow one of these links:
- Answers to some frequently asked questions about the Division of Criminal Justice
- Latest News Releases
- Learn More About the Criminal Justice Commission
- Learn More About Criminal Justice Issues at the State Capitol
- Look into the Cold Cases File
- Traffic Stops and Racial Profiling How to File a Complaint
- Reports on the Use of Deadly Force By Police Officers
- Evaluation and Peer Review of Individuals Appointed by the Criminal Justice Commission
- Links to Other Web Sites