Chief State’s Attorney’s Meeting

Minutes of the Meeting of April 20, 2020
Office of the Chief State’s Attorney
Rocky Hill, Connecticut

Chief State’s Attorney Richard J. Colangelo, Jr., called the meeting to order at 12:32 p.m. The meeting was conducted by telephone conference call in response to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Also participating were: Deputy Chief State’s Attorneys Kevin D. Lawlor and John J. Russotto; State’s Attorneys Michael A. Gailor (Middlesex), Dawn Gallo (Litchfield), Matthew C. Gedansky (Tolland), Patrick J. Griffin (New Haven), Gail P. Hardy (Hartford), Margaret E. Kelley (Ansonia/Milford), Cornelius Kelly (Acting State’s Attorney – Fairfield), Anne F. Mahoney (Windham), Maureen Platt (Waterbury), Brian Preleski (New Britain), Michael L. Regan (New London) and Stephen J. Sedensky III (Danbury). Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo also attended in his capacity as acting State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Stamford/Norwalk.

Also participating: Executive Assistant State’s Attorney Brian Austin, Jr., Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Paul Ferencek (Stamford/Norwalk), Communications and Legislative Specialist Mark A. Dupuis and legislative liaison Wilfred Blanchette, Jr.

State’s Attorney Gedansky made a motion to approve the minutes of the March 16, 2020, meeting. Acting State’s Attorney Kelly seconded the motion and it passed with no opposition.

Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo reported that the General Assembly has not resumed operations due to the pandemic.

State’s Attorney Hardy reported on a conference call meeting conducted April 14, 2020, by the National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) where prosecutors from other states reported experiencing many of the same issues as Connecticut has because of the pandemic. These include: demands from community activists and the defense bar for release of prison inmates because of the pandemic and victim notification in such matters; upticks in domestic violence and stolen car incidents; juvenile detentions; and child abuse and neglect cases.

State’s Attorney Mahoney reported that a University of Connecticut police officer is willing to visit all State’s Attorney’s offices to give a presentation with an emotional support dog. It is up to the State’s Attorneys to decide if they wish to have the presentation at their office.

There were no committee reports.

Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo asked the State’s Attorneys to submit their personal assessments to aid in his evaluations for the Criminal Justice Commission. He will be meeting with the Commission by conference to discuss scheduling the filling of the vacant State’s Attorney positions in the Fairfield and Stamford/Norwalk Judicial Districts and the scheduling of the meeting for consideration of those State’s Attorneys up for reappointment this year (Hartford and Waterbury Judicial Districts).

Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo asked the State’s Attorneys to report to him if their offices are using Trial Director and Adobe Acrobat Pro software, and, if so, how often the software is being used and for what purposes to assist in determining the most economical way of accomplishing those tasks.

Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo led a discussion of motions for sentence modifications and other means now being raised seeking release of incarcerated individuals. The Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut have contacted the Chief State’s Attorney and the State’s Attorneys with demands for release of inmates.

With the cooperation and assistance of the Division, the state has significantly reduced both the population of sentenced inmates and pretrial detainees since the onset of the pandemic. Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo will respond to the ACLU letter on behalf of the Division.

The Chief Public Defender has obtained a list of all inmates within one year of the end of their sentence, approximately 500 of whom are due for release in the next 60 days. The Division is asking for additional information on these inmates, including information on victims of their crimes and circumstances of the cases so that appropriate consideration can be given to agreeing to outright sentence modifications or a hearing to allow the court to rule on modification.

Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo asked the State’s Attorneys to consult with the Presiding Judges to determine to which judge(s) arrest and search warrant applications should be submitted. The applications should not be submitted to the Judge who is on the bench hearing cases.

There was discussion of other issues and concerns regarding the pandemic:

  • Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo responded to concerns expressed by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence on the timeliness of review of arrest warrant applications;
  • Video conferencing is generally going well for court proceedings and concerns that have arisen are being addressed;
  • State’s Attorneys reported that the limited days of operation have required more time for completing dockets on those days the courts are open because of the availability of judges and the other matters they must address;
  • Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo will meet with the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association to discuss logistics and concerns for when the courts reopen with full operations;
  • Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo reported that in discussions with the Judicial Branch there has been no estimate given on a timetable for returning court operations to normal levels.
  • The survey of clerical employees concerning training and other work issues recommended by the Training Committee is on hold because of the pandemic but remains “on the radar” for the future.

Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo asked the State’s Attorneys to notify him if they are serving on a board, commission or other entity either as designee of the Chief State’s Attorney or appointed through other means and if they wish to continue to serve.

Chief State’s Attorney Colangelo reported that the Division is developing a program suggested by Deputy Chief State’s Attorney Lawlor to involve newer prosecutions in advisory committees in the areas of engagement, diversity and community outreach. The concept is to involve newer prosecutors to “build a bench” for the Division’s future.

There being no further business, State’s Attorney Mahoney moved to adjourn. State’s Attorney Sedensky seconded the motion and it passed without opposition and the meeting adjourned at 1:23 p.m.