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misconduct, Hartford criminal defense attorneySeemingly every other week or so, there is a new report of alleged misconduct of some type involving police officers. Over the last several years, we have heard countless stories of police shootings, overaggressive behavior by officers against criminal suspects, and allegations of blatant and systemic racism. Due in large part to these types of examples, many people are hesitant to trust law enforcement officers and such apprehension is understandable. Now, a federal lawsuit recently filed in Connecticut suggests that there is even a measure of distrust of certain officers and officials among other police officers.

Federal Action

Earlier this month a former member of the Rocky Hill police department filed suit in federal court in Bridgeport seeking damages for harassment and discrimination. The suit names four defendants, including the Rocky Hill police chief and another officer, as well as the current and former Town Managers of Rocky Hill.

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apartment, Hartford criminal defense attorneyIn the realm of criminal law, the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides one of the most basic rights afforded to citizens of this country. The Fourth Amendment states that an individual’s right to security regarding his or her person, home, and belongings may not be violated by unreasonable searches and seizures. It further specifies that a warrant for a search by the government shall only be issued when probable cause exists and is supported by a sworn or affirmed statement.

While the rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment sound simple enough in theory, the definition of an unreasonable search or seizure has been consistently debated for nearly two and half centuries since the amendment’s ratification. Recently, the Connecticut Supreme Court added another chapter to the discussion as it issued its ruling on a case involving a drug-sniffing dog working in the hallway of an apartment complex.

Different Rights for Different Homes?

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cell phone tower, Hartford criminal defense attorneyIf you are arrested on the suspicion that you committed a crime, part of your defense may include showing that you were not near the location of the crime when it was taking place. But, what if records from a cell phone tower suggest that you were in the area of the crime? Are cell towers reliable enough to provide evidence that could change a criminal defendant’s life? This is the question that the Connecticut Supreme Court must answer as it reviews the case of a man currently serving 20 years prison for a robbery in Wethersfield in 2012.

Constantly Changing Technology

Before the advent of cellular technology, criminal prosecutors could definitively place a suspect near the scene of a crime in one of a few ways. The suspect’s own admission, of course, was—and still is—the most certain, but a prosecutor could also utilize physical evidence such as hair, blood, or clothing fibers, as well as the testimony of eyewitnesses. Today, however, a person is likely to carry a cell phone constantly sends and receives a variety of signals, allowing the person to make phone calls, receive emails, and share messages, while creating records of each transmission along the way.

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prosecutors, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyWhen you go to work every day, you are expected to perform at a certain level. You may have productivity standards or sales quotas that must be met, and you are almost certainly required to adhere to your company’s code of conduct policies. If you make a major mistake or deliberately break the rules, you are probably subject to some sort of disciplinary process which could ultimately cost you your job. At the very least, you will likely be expected to remedy your error if possible. While such expectations apply to most people who work for a living, it seems that criminal prosecutors—for whom a major mistake or misconduct could ruin another person’s life—are often exempt. A report released earlier this year found that prosecutors who commit misconduct or make serious mistakes in their prosecution of criminal cases are very rarely held accountable for their actions.

Hundreds of Examples

The Prosecutorial Oversight Coalition was formed as a joint project of the Innocence Project, the Innocence Project New Orleans, the Veritas Initiative at Santa Clara University School of Law, and Resurrection After Exoneration to study examples of prosecutor error and misconduct. The group looked at thousands of court decisions between 2004 and 2008 from five states—Arizona, California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas—and found 660 incidents of prosecutor misconduct. In reality, the number is probably much higher, considering how difficult it can be to recognize the behavior as misconduct.

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animal cruelty, Connecticut criminal defense attorneyWe Americans love our pets. According to estimates from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), between 37 and 47 percent of all United States households own at least one dog while 30 to 37 percent of households own at least one cat with many owning more than one. These numbers equate to as many as 80 million dogs and 96 million cats owned as pets throughout the country. Companion animals, in the overwhelming majority of cases, are treated with love and care and are provided a comfortable life by their owners. When the animals develop a need, the owners step up and address it with appropriate veterinary care or other reasonable considerations. But, what about animals who are not in a loving home? What about those who are forced to suffer deplorable conditions and unimaginable cruelty? Who speaks for them? Thanks to a new law in Connecticut, abused animals can now be provided advocates for their interests in criminal cases regarding animal cruelty.

Desmond’s Law

In a contested divorce between parents or a child custody dispute, Connecticut law provides a court with the authority to appoint a guardian ad litem to ensure that the child’s best interests are fully protected. With the enactment of measure known as Desmond’s Law—named for a dog that was beaten, strangled, and killed by an owner who served no jail time for his actions—a similar advocate can work on behalf of an abused animal in an animal cruelty case. Such advocates would be volunteer law school students or attorneys working pro bono who will be provided access to evidence and testimony and asked to provide recommendations to the court.

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