Division of Criminal Justice Advisory Board
Office of the Chief State's Attorney
300 Corporate Place
Rocky Hill, Connecticut
Minutes of the Meeting of May 2, 2022
The meeting was called to order at 12:34 p.m. by State's Attorney Anne F. Mahoney.
Also present were Acting Chief State’s Attorney John J. Russotto, Deputy Chief State’s Attorneys Kevin Lawlor and Robert Devlin; State’s Attorneys Margaret E. Kelley (Ansonia/Milford); Stephen J. Sedensky (Danbury); Joseph T. Corradino (Fairfield); Sharmese Walcott (Hartford); David Shannon (Litchfield); Michael A. Gailor (Middlesex); Senior Assistant State's Attorney Helen McLellan (New Britain); Patrick J. Griffin (New Haven); Paul J. Ferencek (Stamford/Norwalk); Maureen T. Platt (Waterbury); and Anne F. Mahoney (Windham); Executive Assistant State’s Attorneys John Doyle, Gail Hardy and Brett Salafia; Legislative Liaison Melanie Dykas; Labor Relations Administrator AnneMarie Paone-Mullin and Criminal Justice Commission Member Scott Murphy.
A motion to accept the minutes from the April 4, 2022 meeting was made by Deputy Chief State’s Attorney Lawlor and was seconded by Acting Chief State's Attorney Russotto. It passed unanimously.
State's Attorney Platt reported for the Operations Committee. There are two main issues surrounding the use of body-worn cameras (BWC). The first issue concerns the policies and practices of the departments with respect to the use of BWC. Each State's Attorney is gathering information from their respective police departments in order to determine the following: (1) the data retention period; (2) when and how data is delivered to the States Attorney's office; (3) whether there are distinctions between patrol/uniformed officers and detectives; and (4) whether there is anything in the policy relating to officers assigned to federal task forces. Kyle Beaudoin will compile the results for us. P.O.S.T. has made it clear that they do not intend to issue any policy drawing distinctions between uniformed officers and detectives. It has been suggested that once the Chief State's Attorney has been appointed, that he/she meet with P.O.S.T. regarding the necessity for a policy.
The second issue concerns the use of BWC by DCJ Inspectors. There was discussion and concern with the statutory language which addresses law enforcement units. While the consensus is that DCJ Inspectors will be required to wear BWC as of July 1, there was concern whether the broad statutory language would also require prosecutors to comply.
The committee intends to draft a DCJ policy re: BWC in the hope that it will be enacted shortly after the appointment of a new Chief State's Attorney. It is anticipated that the policy will be ready for a vote at the June State's Attorney's meeting.
There was no Management Committee report. A chairperson needs to be selected in light of Brian Preleski's appointment to the bench.
With respect to the Peer Review process, the reviews are on hold until a successor is appointed for the position of Chief State's Attorney.
There were no potential conflicts to discuss.
In other business, a suggestion was made to obtain a plaque for Brian Preleski, thanking him for his many years of service with the DCJ. All were in favor. Acting Chief State's Attorney Russotto said he will follow up on this purchase.
There was much discussion concerning sentence modification and commutation hearings. Some judges have been holding off on the modification hearings and/ or staying the proceedings pending the result of the commutation hearings. There was a great deal of frustration expressed, especially in light of the fact that the prosecutors are not allowed to weigh in at commutation hearings. There is consensus that we need to address differences in the sentence modification hearing process throughout the state. Deputy Chief State's Attorney Lawlor suggested that Melanie Dykas reach out to some of the victims groups. It was stressed, once again, that we need to keep track of the numerous hours spent reviewing the sentence modifications, tracking victims and preparing for hearings. Acting Chief State's Attorney Russotto suggested that the Legislative Committee work out a strategy and make recommendations. States Attorney Corradino suggested a "global" approach - sentence modifications, habeas and commutation proceedings. State's Attorney Platt spoke about potentially having a defendant waive their right to file for a sentence modification, e.g. in exchange for a plea to a reduced charge. Senior Assistant State's Attorney Timothy Sugrue suggested the practicality of having an order to the proceedings, namely, first a commutation hearing, followed by a sentence modification. State's Attorney Sedensky indicated he sometimes files a FOI request to obtain the entire file for such hearings. In those cases, the DOC victim advocate notifies the victim. Everyone agreed on the fact that we need a great deal of time to reach out to victims and that these proceedings are an unjust burden on the victims and cause a great deal of psychological damage.
State's Attorney Sedensky made a motion to adjourn that was seconded by State's Attorney Platt. It passed unanimously and the meeting adjourned at 1:13 p.m.