Chief State’s Attorney’s Meeting

Minutes of the Meeting of January 27, 2020
Office of the Chief State’s Attorney
Rocky Hill, Connecticut

Acting Chief State’s Attorney John J. Russotto called the meeting to order at 12:33 p.m.

Also in attendance were: Deputy Chief State’s Attorney Kevin D. Lawlor; State’s Attorneys Richard J. Colangelo, Jr. (Stamford/Norwalk), Dawn Gallo (Litchfield), Patrick J. Griffin (New Haven), Gail P. Hardy (Hartford), Margaret E. Kelley (Ansonia/Milford), Anne F. Mahoney (Windham), Maureen Platt (Waterbury), Brian Preleski (New Britain), Stephen J. Sedensky III (Danbury), and John C. Smriga (Fairfield); Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorneys C. Robert Satti, Jr. (Fairfield) and Paul J. Narducci (New London) and Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Russell Zentner (Middlesex).

Also present: Executive Assistant State’s Attorneys Brian Austin, Jr., and Amy Bepko and Communications and Legislative Specialist Mark A. Dupuis.

Acting Chief State’s Attorney Russotto introduced guests attorneys Elizabeth McAuliffe and Brendan Schain and Environmental Conservation Police Officer Ray Ramos from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) for a presentation on the importance of statutory provisions providing for the automatic suspension of hunting, fishing or trapping licenses upon conviction for violating environmental protection laws. It was suggested the DEEP provide additional information when making arrests identifying repeat violators.

The meeting broke at 12:47 p.m. to allow for the meeting of the State’s Attorneys Advisory Board. The meeting resumed at 1:18 p.m.

State’s Attorney Colangelo made a motion to approve the minutes of the December 16, 2019, meeting. State’s Attorney Kelley seconded the motion and it passed on a voice vote with no opposition.

Acting Chief State’s Attorney Russotto reported that he and Deputy Chief State’s Attorney Lawlor met with the co-chairs of the General Assembly’s Appropriations Committee to present the Division’s need for additional resources to address training, information technology and special investigations including officer-involved shootings, conviction integrity and cold cases. The Division is in the process of filling approximately 30 vacancies with another 20 yet to be earmarked for specific positions.

Acting Chief State’s Attorney Russotto also reported that he met with Governor Ned Lamont, members of the Governor’s Staff and the Commissioner of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) to discuss the Division’s investigation into the officer-involved shooting of Mubarak Soulemane in West Haven on January 15, 2020.

The Division has a framework for a second team if needed to investigate an officer-involved shooting involving a Connecticut State Police officer. The State Police will continue to process the scene in all officer-involved shootings. State’s Attorney Griffin suggested that the FBI “table top” training exercise would be helpful to better prepare the State’s Attorneys for responding to officer-involved shooting incidents and suggested that the State’s Attorneys stand ready to assign Inspectors to assist with immediate response to incidents in neighboring Judicial Districts. Acting Chief State’s Attorney Russotto reported that further discussions with the DESPP are anticipated to refine the process. The State’s Attorneys agreed the new Chief State’s Attorney should take the lead on this matter.

Acting Chief State’s Attorney Russotto reported that he met with the co-chairs of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee to present the Division’s priorities and legislative recommendations for the 2020 session. There was also discussion of recent officer-involved fatal shootings.

Training Committee:

Executive Assistant State’s Attorney Austin reported the Division completed three days of training for Deputy Assistant State’s Attorneys and Special Deputy Assistant State’s Attorneys. The sessions are going well and will continue. All sessions are recorded and available to all staff via the Division’s Intranet site.

Some grant funding is available for out-of-state domestic violence training for limited numbers of prosecutors. State’s Attorneys will receive information.

State’s Attorney Mahoney reported planning has begun for the Annual Professional Development Conference for Prosecutors. The sessions will be June 8, 2020, and June 11, 2020. State’s Attorneys are welcomed to recommend training topics.

Operations Committee:

Acting Chief State’s Attorney Russotto reported that information was distributed to the State’s Attorneys concerning implementation of the 2019 Public Acts dealing with jailhouse witnesses. The suggested guide is a memorandum by Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Timothy J. Sugrue of the Appellate Bureau. The Office of Policy and Management is completing work on the database for jailhouse witness information. Deputy Chief State’s Attorney Lawlor suggested that all prosecutors be asked to review cases and report back to the State’s Attorneys with information that must be submitted under the public acts.

State’s Attorney Preleski reported that the Operations Committee hopes to have a report for the next meeting on its review of best practices for the preparation of search warrants for electronic devices.

Other Business:

Acting Chief State’s Attorney Russotto distributed overall results of the surveys conducted by the University of Connecticut Department of Public Policy to assist the State’s Attorneys in the development of their business plans. Those State’s Attorneys still working on plans were asked to have drafts ready by the end of February unless pressing needs dictate otherwise.

DESPP is asking to place equipment in all State’s Attorney’s offices to allow for electronic fingerprinting of those arrested while at the courthouse. Division staff would control access to the equipment and require police using it to sign it in and out. There were no objections.

State’s Attorney Hardy reported on the meeting of the steering committee of the Connecticut Sentencing Commission.

State’s Attorney Kelley asked what procedures were being used in other districts to advise the court or clients of an attorney with pending personal criminal cases. Several State’s Attorneys reported that such matters are routinely placed on the record.

Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Satti reported on two cases where victims or relatives of crime victims have raised major concerns and objections to ongoing prosecutions. He suggested the Division monitor the situation to determine if there is a trend. Acting Chief State’s Attorney Russotto suggested that the Division distribute information on victim rights to all employees, including information well covered in the Prosecutor’s Deskbook.

State’s Attorney Preleski moved to adjourn. State’s Attorney Colangelo seconded the motion and it passed on a voice vote with no opposition.