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Wednesday, June 3, 2015


So what is going on with The Hartford Courant?  How could it be so wrong in regard to the Connecticut Judicial Branch?  Why is it wrong in its assessment of Rep. Minnie Gonzalez, wrong on incompetent and arrogant Family Court judges, and soft on Connecticut Family Court injustice and corruption?  How come the media has essentially carried out a news blackout when it comes to the fraud and wrongdoing going on within the legal system in Connecticut.  Why has the media simply refused to meet its obligations to the citizens of Connecticut?

There is actually a good answer to those questions. 

As I understand it, the media is supposed to be "the fourth estate" which acts as a watchdog to ensure the proper conduct of the government and our judicial system.  In the word of one expert, "Access to information from the media is essential to the health of democracy for at least two reasons. First, it ensures that citizens make responsible, informed choices rather than acting out of ignorance or misinformation. Second, information serves a "checking function" by ensuring that elected representatives uphold their oaths of office and carry out the wishes of those who elected them.  In the United States, the media is often called the fourth branch of government (or "fourth estate"). That's because it monitors the political process in order to ensure that political players don't abuse the democratic process." 

So why isn't The Hartford Courant, let alone other Connecticut media, playing this critical watchdog role in regard to the Connecticut Judicial Branch?  Why is our Connecticut media pretty much giving the Judicial Branch a free pass to carry out whatever nonsense it cares to? 

The answer is that Judges, Attorneys, and Employees of the Connecticut Judicial Branch have systematically cultivated friendships with highly placed media executives and journalists.  These friendships have developed to the point where the media in Connecticut has come to believe that it has a greater obligation to defend the Connecticut Judicial Branch from all potential challengers rather than investigate and critique it on behalf of the citizens of the State of Connecticut which it has a fundamental obligation to serve.

I know that at this point you are probably curious to know how this media shift in perspective from outsider to insider took place. 

What happened is that in 2007, Judge Chase T. Rogers established the Judicial-Media Committee to discuss media access to Connecticut Judicial Branch legal proceedings and records.  The founding documents for this Committee state the following, "The goals of the Judicial-Media Committee are to foster and improve better understanding and relationships between the Judicial Branch and the media, both print and electronic, and to discuss and recommend resolutions of problems confronted by the media and the public in gaining access to court proceedings and documents." 

If you think this sounds like the basis for a judicial branch-media mutual admiration society, I would suspect you are correct. 

The bottom line is, if the media has the legal right to access to legal proceedings and documents, that would be something their lawyers would need to attend to.  But instead, what actually happened is that the Connecticut Judicial Branch arranged for ongoing friendly meetings over a period of seven years sometimes at the offices of one of the media moguls and sometimes at the Judicial Branch.  Clearly, these meetings were fundamentally unnecessary and intended solely for the purpose of skewing the opinions of media leadership in the direction of the Connecticut Judicial Branch. 

Some of the big media names involved in this Committee are as follows:  G. Claude Albert, Managing Editor, The Hartford Courant (retired); Tom Appleby, General Manager and News Director, News 12 Connecticut; Karen Florin, Staff Writer, The Day of New London; Eric Parker, Morning News Anchor, Reporter, WFSB, Channel 3; Chris Powell, Managing Editor, Journal Inquirer;  Thomas Scheffey, Connecticut Law Tribune, editorial board;  Nancy Schoeffler, Editor, Metro Desk, The Hartford Courant; Paul Giguere, President & CEO, Connecticut Network; Michael St. Peter, News Director, WVIT-TV Channel 30;  Kirk Varner, Vice President & News Director, WTNH-TV Channel 8;  Dave Ward, Assignment Editor, WFSB-TV, Channel 3; John Long, Photographer, retired from The Hartford Courant; Ken Margolfo, Assignment Manager, WTIC-TV Fox 61; Melissa Bailey, Managing Editor of the New Haven Independent. 

As you can see, this is an extraordinary lineup of media industry leaders and stars many of whom for a period of seven years conducted regular meetings with judges, attorneys, and judicial branch employees and essentially cemented relationships that could not help but be wide ranging and influential. 

This represents unprecedented access to opinion makers and information gatekeepers solely gathered for the benefit of the Connecticut Judicial Branch.  Those of us who are working for the reform of the Connecticut Judicial Branch had nothing like such access whatsoever and, as a result, have not been able to get the media to cover our stories and work with us for fundamental reforms that the legal system desperately needs. 

In  essence, what this amounts to is that the Connecticut Judicial Branch used its superior power and influence and its control over information sources that the media desperately wanted access to in order to win over the media and shut down any criticism the media might raise of its fraudulent and criminal activities. 

It is a strategy that is both brilliant and, at the same time, fundamentally in opposition to our nation's democratic principles. 

The result is that The Hartford Courant as well as other media outlets in the State of Connecticut have reneged on their professional responsibility to speak up about the many abuses of Connecticut Family Court.   Even worse, the media in Connecticut has  colluded in a conspiracy to deny the wrongdoing and act as apologists for the criminal actions of Family Court judges, attorneys, and mental health professionals. 

This explains their weak, half hearted, response to the ongoing corruption of the CT Judicial Branch, and most particularly to the corruption going on in Family Court. 


  1. This is an incredibly gutsy and highly accurate exposee of yours. The underscore is the belly-of-the-beast cross institutional corruption in the State of Connecticut. To the highest levels. Including the 4th Estate ones of which you so richly expose. Anne Stevenson did the due diligence right job of exposing (just some of) the money trails of corruption, which, at their heart, ALWAYS comes back to money...and greed at it's roots...and whatever possibly contrived avenue and venue to "unjustly enrich" the many players or purvayors in the "process". No wonder, with way too many foxes watching hen houses in sham proceedings or supposed watchdogs over the Engine - including the recognized 4th Estate (media) check and balance - the CT DOJ Task Force on rooting out Public Corruption appears to be just a sham window-dressing orchestration of same ol', same ol' we'll-bury-you-and-your-justifiable-complaints-along-with-you same time as we buy and construct Billboards across the State to 'encourage' the public to come forth.
    Connecticut is a small State. There are more attorneys within NYC alone than this state. It is, by definition of sheer small size alone, ripe for corruption. And it will remain so.
    Because the pathetic Legislature, the State Judiciary Committee (made up largely of practicing Lawyers) and the Governor - with appointment powers, also a Lawyer - absolutely, unequivocally, ALLOW and PROMOTE the System to self-sustain itself as-is. And now with gratis skid-greasing inroads to the ONLY possible independent policing voice on the part of the citizenry - the PRESS??
    This is more than just a travesty of justice for citizens. It is cause for outright rebellion and retaliation at whatever the cost.

  2. As Shakespeare once wrote (and doubtless advocated)..."the first thing we do..let's Kill all the Lawyers...".

    Connecticut should be the first venue.

  3. Best advice is seek OUTSIDE Connecticut complainant venues to report Judicial abuse of power, corruptions, pay-for-play, kickbacks, and money-mongering rapings systemic in its system. It is so pervasive and ingrained as to be impossible to root out, prosecute adequately, or change. Not without the supreme US DOJ taking charge ultimately.
    Instead of endless, largely non-productive in-State hearings wherein highly articulate, educated, and (some well-heeled) complainants make staggeringly little gains, why not collectively associate and 'unionize' and thus Collectively Bargain, so to speak, and go directly to Washington DOJ? Just a thought.

  4. In January 2011 Chief Justice Chase Rogers was the weekly speaker at a meeting of the Greenwich Retired Mens Association. She opened her talk with saying that the CT Judicial Branch had a “reputation for corruption” and that they had taken “a battering in the press.” Then she went on to tell that they were making efforts to improve—making justice accessible to self-represented parties and parties with disabilities, etc. I guess their efforts were not toward actual improvements, but to manipulate the press not to batter them anymore. Has anyone noticed that the Appellate Court proudly reveals that it has a yearly dinner for all appellate clerks and former appellate clerks, now comprising some 100 invitees (judges included)? Former appellate clerks? Do they mean lawyers now in private practice (and their guests) now being invited to wine and dine with the judges? And at taxpayer expense? In these times of agonistic budget balancing? Lawyers who may have matters before those appellate judges?

  5. Attorney Norm Pattis was an editorial writer for the Courant before he became a lawyer. Now writes for New Haven Register and CT Law Tribune. See Michael Nowacki's diatribe on Pattis's CT Law Trib article in defense of CT family court, referring to "the likes of Minnie Gonzalez whipping folks up into a frenzy." 2/15/15, this blog, posted under "Nowacki", not "Pattis".

    1. Attorney Pattis however, in the Ct Law Tribune, was probably the first (of the precious few and certainly not fearless Civil Rights attorneys in CT) who, in 2005, labeled the CT Family Court as the 'penultimate lawless Court in the State'. Note however he doesn't practice in CT Probate Court. The State's worse still twin sister.

      Follow the money.

  6. Once upon a time, back in the 60's thru early 70's, investigative journalism and reporting was a preeminate courageous endeavor. Those were the days of the Pentagon Papers (exposee on the Vietnam War which helped to end it) and Watergate (exposee on the Presidency itself and its highly paid henchmen which helped end that corrupt regime as well). Both the NY Times and Washington Post respectively held out a beacon of the First Amendment in those exposees. Since then, there has been no such equivalent evidence of courageous reporting/publishing via major mass media outlets the likes of which secured the vox populi in the knowledge that yes, the Fourth Estate is alive and well, and is here to protect the average vulnerable citizenry's right-to-know and, more importantly, its supreme protection. From an onslaught of over-the-top abuse of power influence and game-rigger purveyors. Usually motivated by greed and megalomaniac power grabs (same as the aforementioned seminal 4th Estate events).

    This is currently happening within the small state of Connecticut. Which smallness in size and population has given rise to the insular, cross-contaminating cesspool of what passes for "justice" across the board in its 13 Judicial districts.

    Except for Jury cases, where peer adults with usually rational thinking and contemplative skills weigh in with fair minded judgment results, there is, more often than not, zero justice from the any one-man-Bench alleged 'fact-finder' at all.

    Who is eminently buy-able, influence-able, and corruptable.

    There are far more "Civil" cases in CT - and that includes primarily Family and Probate Court cases - that have case "Facts" rooted in Criminal Acts (including those exercised by Attorneys) that are shielded and coddled and cloaked behind the Black Robes of those Civil Bench Judges, then any hundred criminal JURY DECIDED law cases prosecuted in the State.

    And that's where the Fourth Estate - the investigative reporters and their corporate backed chicken-sht papers, are as shameless as the corrupt judiciary (and Legislature and Executive branch to lesser, or maybe more) itself.

    Time to name names, publish full stories, and use the Internet to its fullest to fight back. Without fear.

    1. I wouldn't say without fear because I've been repeatedly threatened and also reported to the police simply for publishing this blog, which in my humble opinion, is a pretty middle of the road type blog on family court. I just state the facts that are in front of me, no hyperbole, and that is sufficient to get many of these attorneys, and also apparently judges to get into a state where they are foaming at the mouth. So definitely, this independent blogging doesn't get done without fear. I do say we are lucky to have out of state bloggers who have the opportunity to be even more forthright and informative than I can be.

  7. I agree that a significant reason for the enormous corruption in CT's judicial branch is the lack of competent investigative journalists in this state. That is in part due to the state's small size. Connecticut is a very small media market. Even Hartford and New Haven are not large cities by national standards. Part of the problem also stems from a decline in the quality and quantity of investigative reporting nationwide. Moreover, any reporter who actually wrote a serious piece of investigative journalism would likely get blackballed by existing government contacts. In a small state, that could harm a journalist's career.

    Free news is now available on the internet, and that has decreased the profits of newspapers and other traditional media outlets. There just isn't enough money in the industry to fund the cost of a real investigation.

    1. We have had some really great investigative journalism coming from the Hartford Courant, still do in many ways, so I'm not sure this is the issue. But it is difficult to ascertain what is going on behind the scenes in terms of decisions to cover specific issues. We had great coverage of the issue of the excessive use of restraints and seclusion in schools recently. Of course, that stemmed from an actual state report on the matter. What came first the chicken or the egg, who knows. I am aware that around 2008, the Courant eliminated around 24 of its staff including Karen Hunter, the Reader Representative whom they did not replace. Business was threatening to leave the state over these recent budget talks and then the next thing you know The Hartford Courant hosts a panel at Goodwin College on why we choose to live in CT. You have to ask what motivated the Courant to do that. I thought I heard that the Hartford Courant obtains advertising revenue from The Judicial Branch of up to $500,000 per year--is it possible The Courant gets other advertising revenues from the CT State Government that makes it prohibitive for the Courant to expose the flaws of the CT Judicial Branch and state government? I am left with many questions. I do agree that independent journalists have begun to play a greater role in the discovery and distribution of truthful information. At the same time, many of these journalists, like me, have been regularly subjected to bullying and threats which inevitably have an impact because, you know, I don't have a corporation backing me. OK, so I'm wandering somewhat, but bottom line is, I hear you on this issue. To be honest, aside from these significant issues which have had an impact on journalism, I just think that many of the reporters I have spoken to do not care about ethical journalism, quite simply. They are perfectly happy to be the tools of the establishment and they find the protests of average citizens that their issues are being neglected simply annoying, like flies and mosquitoes are annoying. There is none of this sense of obligation or service to the community that might once have been there. I suspect much of this is the opportunism that has swept through generations of young people starting in the 80s where it is all about being rich, successful, and lording it over your neighbors and showing off your influence, power, and belongings rather than being a distinguished, responsible, and conscientious journalstic professional.

  8. I was wondering if your readers, or you as a blogger, would be interested in publishing and commenting here on the reports, you tube and other links, of the enormously pertinent and sad story of Chris Mackney, an Illinois father who committed suicide as a direct result of the legal bullying, abuse of process and power, that the Family Court inflicted on him mercilessly, ending in the taking of his own life - no other way out. This story is about to come out in book form by the courageous independent Investigative Reporter, Michael Volpe, who has also been interviewed extensively and his You Tube uploads attest. While it hasn't yet been made known or revealed whether the Family Court process has directly caused similar suicides (of Father OR Mother) here in CT, it certainly reveals itself as undoubtedly only a matter of time. I hope you will add to this tragic story here in your blog. Thank you.

  9. I have some experience dealing with the media, and I find CT journalists different from other areas in several respects. First, let's fact it, being a journalist in CT isn't the top of the class. Most good journalists are looking to get promoted to a bigger media market where they will have more impact and can attract better pay. I don't fault them for that. Second, for whatever reason, journalists in CT are unwilling to rock the boat. I don't know if that's because of editorial pressure or pressure from ownership, but it seems to be true. Our state's journalists can write a story on some disaster that has already occurred, but they aren't going to do the work and take the risk associated with uncovering something and exposing it. I suspect few of them even have the ability to do that.

    1. I am happy to post any information regarding this case or other cases connected to suicide or other devastation in the lives of family court litigants that happens, both in terms of Youtube videos and articles. It is important to keep these cases out there in the public eye.

    2. Just send them my way,