Thursday, January 13, 2005

Connecticut State Police and Judiciary, The White Boy Club

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Judge Put On The Defense

Lopez Grilled During Renomination Hearing

January 13, 2005 By ALAINE GRIFFIN, Hartford Courant Staff Writer

Documents submitted to the state panel charged with reappointing judges have cast Superior Court Judge Carmen L. Lopez as an insubordinate and tempestuous jurist who has crossed ethical lines while serving on the bench.

Lopez, 53, of Bridgeport, was facing those allegations during a long and sometimes tense renomination hearing that began before lunch Wednesday and stretched into early today. In a rare move, several judges were called by the judiciary committee to testify about their controversial colleague.

"I've never seen judges called as witnesses in a confirmation proceeding," said Rep. Cameron C. Staples, D-New Haven, a 10-year veteran of the judiciary committee.Lopez's husband, Judge Dale W. Radcliffe, also was being considered for another eight-year term.

Legislators grilled both Lopez and Radcliffe, 55, about arguments and controversies the two have been involved in with court workers and judicial officials in several court districts. They also inquired about two instances in which Radcliffe filled in for Lopez on the bench without proper authorization, and reports that they played cards with juvenile defendants and bought Christmas presents for one youth.

One letter to the judiciary committee from Chief Court Administrator Joseph H. Pellegrino acknowledged conflicts between Lopez and two other judges in Middletown as the reason behind Lopez's recent transfer to another district.

"A cooperative relationship is especially necessary for the efficient operation of the court," he wrote.

Judge Lopez's dealings with her colleagues had deteriorated so severely that she requested that all communications between her and them be in writing, Pellegrino said.

"It was then that I determined that she be transferred," Pellegrino wrote.

One of the Middletown jurists, Judge Carl E. Taylor, testified that Lopez was "angry and agitated" during discussions they had about her retaining juvenile cases following implementation of a new docketing process that required those cases be returned to their original juvenile districts.

Taylor said he relayed his account of her behavior to top judicial officials.

The growing number of complaints about Lopez's and Radcliffe's conduct sparked harsh words from several legislators.

"We can't allow you to run your own show," Sen. John Kissel, R-Enfield, told Radcliffe.

Yet Lopez, who was surrounded in the committee room by defenders, also had support on the committee.

Sen. Ernest Newton, D-Bridgeport, called the contents of the documents his committee received "innuendos" and told Lopez she was under attack for "ruffling some feathers up on high" by speaking out about problems in the juvenile justice system.

"The only thing Judge Carmen Lopez is guilty of is caring," Newton said.

"This is the price she pays for caring about an issue - children - when she should care about that."

Lopez's testimony lasted into the night. The committee was expected to vote Wednesday night to make a reappointment deadline.

Lopez, one of the state's five Latino judges, had appeared on the judiciary committee's radar weeks before her renomination hearing when members of the Latino community and child advocates protested her recent transfer from the child protection session in Superior Court in Middletown to the civil division in New Haven.

Lopez's supporters wondered why a veteran child-protection judge hailed nationally for her ability to combine legal expertise with her professional interest in juvenile justice was no longer handling the state's most serious family cases.

As reappointment approached - a time when most judges prefer to keep a low profile - supporters waged an aggressive campaign to get Lopez back to the juvenile division, using mass e-mail messages and phone calls. They urged recipients to write letters to the judicial branch demanding answers about the transfer.

The judiciary committee members also wanted to know what was behind Lopez's transfer. Their inquiry resulted in a thick stack of letters and reports from the judicial branch.

The most condemning document was a letter written by Judge Hillary B. Strackbein in January 2001 when she was a supervisory juvenile prosecutor in Bridgeport. Strackbein, who was known then as Hillary Bargar, implored Chief State's Attorney John Bailey to help her handle what she described as an "intolerable" situation with Lopez.

Strackbein said Lopez, along with her husband, visited defendants while they were at detention centers and played cards with them, according to the letter. Lopez bought one juvenile defendant Christmas presents and when that same defendant was charged again, he told police to go ahead and arrest him because he was "buds with Judge Lopez," Strackbein wrote.

When Lopez's court docket became overwhelming, Lopez's husband would fill her spot on the bench and handle her cases, Strackbein charged.

"In court she told me to shut up," Strackbein wrote.

"She has undermined the prosecution, shown overt sympathy and minimized the state's case to the defendants on numerous occasions."

Lopez said she felt the court investigator did not show her proper respect, in part because of her ethnicity.

In a voice barely above a whisper Wednesday night, Lopez recounted the incident.

"He waved his hand in front of me," Lopez said with a look of shock on her face as she demonstrated the gesture the investigator made.

"Then he said, `I'm not talking to you.' I didn't even know what to do. I thought, he can't talk to me like that. I look back now and think I shouldn't have ever uttered the word `contempt'. But I felt so disrespected."

Lopez admitted she often disagrees with other judges and court officials, primarily on how juvenile cases have been handled.

She said grievances she filed in the past against three administrative judges were sparked by their "lack of support" for her work and a hostile work environment they made to her - a member of a minority group.

The above came from the Hartford Courant website.

Fair use of copyrighted material

* * * *

My email to incoming Gov. Rell of Connecticut regarding Rowland and corruption

How can there not still be sleaze in the Connecticut Governor’s Office, if former Rowland aids are answering Rell’s phones? (post)

Telling your Attorney to go fuck himself- PRICELESS

A Justice System really has to be corrupt and out of hand for something to actually change

The Death of Shame in America
(O'Reilly of the O'Reilly Factor, Fox News, asks Gov. John G. Rowland to resign Dec. 2003)

* * * *

Can cops rape, rob, beat, and murder with immunity?
(post contains pictures of young adults brutalized by police, and picture of a 1978 Chevrolet Corvette and one of the houses I fixed up from a boarded up condition)

Are their unnamed factions in the US, similar to the KKK?

With rogue judges and their minions, police officers, do we really live in a Democracy? (post)

This blogger's email: stevengerickson@yahoo.com

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