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Showing posts with label OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL. Show all posts

Sunday, March 1, 2015


I have often wondered how Connecticut manages to be a state with such broad inequities.  It is the first or second wealthiest state in the Union and yet its capitol, Hartford, is one of the poorest and has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation. 

We have extraordinary divisions between the races here in Connecticut, with African-Americans, Hispanics, and white folks often living exclusively in their own respective communities, and at times expressing real fear if not outright ignorance of one another.  Many white people are hunkered down in their wealthy upscale communities while considerable numbers of people of color are restricted to Connecticut's economically challenged cities.

We have the Institute of Living which has an excellent reputation in regard to the care and treatment of the mentally ill, and yet at the same time we have some of the highest, almost barbaric, rates of the use of restraints and seclusion among children, adults, and the elderly, of anywhere in the country. 

We have all these movie stars and writers living in our environs, the CEOs of major corporations, and yet the State cannot even be bothered to be in compliance with Federal ADA law and regularly excludes its most vulnerable citizens--those with disabilities--from inclusion in its communities.

And now we have Connecticut Family Court and DCF running amok in respectable communities snatching children from fit parents and bankrupting them as those parents desperately seek to get them back! 
How does the State of Connecticut get away with these kinds of economic and civil rights injustices? 
It does so because state government--i.e. the Governor, state officials and state agencies--have developed three powerful lines of defense against being held in the least bit accountable to the citizens who live in this state and support their existence.  As a result, no matter how much Connecticut citizens challenge state government and those who work for it, the State of Connecticut is essentially invulnerable to attack and has an awe inspiring capacity to stifle all dissent and cannibalize its citizens. 
In short, Connecticut is called "the Land of Steady habits" not because it is particularly reliable, but primarily because our State government rules with an iron fist and resists any kind of political pressure for change and reform from its citizens. 
The end result is that we have a stagnant economy and a social scene that even to the present day retains the very same qualities that made it the inspiration for the setting of Ira Levin's book, "The Stepford Wives".  
So what are these three lines of defense that fortresses Connecticut State government from its people? 
First, there is the Office of the Claims Commissioner.  If you want to sue the State of Connecticut for some wrongdoing, you have to obtain permission from the State of Connecticut's Claims Commissioner, Mr. J. Paul Vance. 
What this means is that the State of Connecticut is legally immune from liability and from suit without its consent and cannot be held legally liable for any damage it may have caused, unless a single individual, the Claims Commissioner, agrees.  And the Claims Commissioner is appointed by the Governor with the approval of the General Assembly, so how likely is he to agree to have the State sued! 
The authority of the Claims Commissioner is rooted in the concept that the State has "sovereign immunity" a British concept that we inherited from the Colonial days.  It originates with the phrase, "The King (sovereign) can do no wrong", unless the Claims Commissioner decides to waive that immunity .
The position of Claims Commissioner in the State of Connecticut originated in the 1970s and is a system unlike that of any other state.  Other states might have Claims Commissions or Boards, while  the vast majority simply allow you to go ahead and sue the State without having to request permission.  Only Connecticut puts the entire responsibility in the hands of one person.  This makes it extremely difficult to hold the State of Connecticut accountable for its wrongdoing. 
A second way that State government and its officials are able to stonewall Connecticut citizens is through the State of Connecticut Office of the Attorney General.  Basically, the State of Connecticut maintains an approximately 300 strong Office of the Attorney General full of attorneys and paralegals whose job it is to defend State Officials and State Agencies from any challenges from Connecticut Citizens. 
Not only is it supposed to provide legal services to State Government and all its agents and agencies, it is also required to provide free legal opinions to all of those entities.  This means that any time the director of a State Agency wants to proceed with a particular policy (no matter how illegal!) he or she can get in depth legal advice on how to evade and avoid any inconvenient statutory obstacles. 
In other States throughout the country, the Offices of the Attorney General are required to defend the ADA or Civil Rights of its citizens.  In contrast, in the State of Connecticut, the Office of the Attorney General is mandated to protect the State when citizens complain that the State or a state official has violated their ADA or Civil Rights. 
This means that the State of Connecticut has almost unlimited taxpayer provided resources to protect itself against any suit a citizen might bring against it, i.e. if the State violated his or her constitutional rights, while that citizen may only be able to afford a single attorney, or may be forced to represent him or herself. 
Keep in mind that the vast majority of federal lawsuits conducted against the State of Connecticut would ordinarily take multiple years to resolve.  How many individual citizens can afford that, and how many have the emotional stamina to sustain such a fight. 
The third and final line of defense that the State of Connecticut maintains to defend itself against any accountability towards its own citizens is its grand juries.  Grand juries are a time honored tradition in the United States. 
These juries usually consist of twelve randomly selected citizens who conduct hearings into whether a person committed a crime--indicting grand jury.  For instance, in Ferguson there was a grand jury inquiry into whether Office Darren Wilson committed a crime in the death of Michael Brown.  In that case, the grand jury chose not to indict Officer Darren Wilson with a crime. 
At the same time, there is what is called an investigative grand jury that has subpoena powers to conduct an investigation into whether there is official corruption in state government or local mob activity.  Again, in the vast majority of states, such grand juries consist of a group of regular citizens. 
However, in the State of Connecticut, investigative grand juries consist of a judge, judge referee, or a three-judge panel.  So again, in Connecticut ordinary citizens are removed from the equation and the decision making authority has been transferred to a privileged class of judges who owe their positions to the Governor and the Connecticut  General Assembly that appointed them, not Connecticut citizens. 
Altogether these three institutions--the Office of the Claims Commissioner, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Investigative Grand Juries led by Judges, not citizens--create an impregnable fortress behind which State Officials, State Agencies, and people of influence can wield their authority at will without any accountability or any repercussions.  

This is ultimately the reason why Connecticut citizens, particularly family court and DCF victims, have no recourse when the State decides to steal their children, drive them into bankruptcy and deprive them of their human, constitutional, and civil rights.  It also explains why the State of Connecticut is culturally dead, economically stifled, and an intellectual and social backwater.  Scholars, innovators, thinkers are its greatest export.

Thursday, February 5, 2015


When I began to deal with the lying, cheating, and scumbag behavior of Connecticut Family Court judges and attorneys, a lot of people told me I should go to the Attorney General's office and complain.  So I ended up with the impression that the Attorney General's office was there to defend my interests. 
Eventually, I ended up going to federal court to sue the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch in connection to its ADA violations in my case.  Imagine my chagrin to find that the Attorney General's office had taken on the task of defending the Branch against me.  There I was a single individual standing up against the approximately 300 strong army of attorneys and paralegals that make up the Office of the Attorney General here in the State of Connecticut. 
Talk about David and Goliath--although, in my case I guess it would be Davida and Goliath! 
Not long after I filed my case against the Connecticut Judicial Branch, Ms. Susan Skipp filed her federal case against the CT Judicial Branch and so did Mr. Joey Watley and Karin Hasemann.  Each one of them found that their cases were opposed by the Office of the Attorney General.  Also, recently, Mr. Adam McNiece filed an ADA case in State Court objecting to the fact that the CT Judicial Branch refused to honor his ADA request for the reasonable modification of audiorecordings.  Who was opposing him?  You guessed it!  The Connecticut Office of the Attorney General and its phalanx of attorneys, paralegals, and associated administrative assistants. 
How is this happening? 
Basically, in the State of Connecticut, the Office of the Attorney General is directed to protect all the officials of our State Government as well as agencies of that State Government.  Thus, if you look at Conn. General Statute Section 3-125 which describes the duties of the Attorney General's Office for the State of Connecticut, the duty of this office is to "appear for the state, the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary, the treasurer and the comptroller, and all heads of departments and state boards, commissioners, agents, inspectors, committees, auditors, chemists, directors, harbor masters, and institutions and for the State Librarian in all suits and other civil which the state is a party or is interested, or in which the official acts and doings of said officers are called in question, and for all members of the state House of Representatives and the state Senate in all suits and other civil proceedings brought against them involving their official acts and doings in the discharge of their duties as legislators, in any court or other tribunal, as the duties of his office require; and all such suits shall be conducted by him or under his direction." 
Not only is the Attorney General's office supposed to defend State Government and all its agents and agencies, it is also directed to provide legal opinions to all of these entities free of charge.  This means that any time the director of a State Agency wants to proceed with a particular policy and is concerned that a Connecticut citizen might sue, that director can get full legal guidance on how to evade accountability. 
If you are interested in seeing how that is done, just go onto the Attorney General's website and review all of the opinions listed.  These are detailed, well thought out legal positions provided freely to heads of State Agencies, etc.  Of course, no private citizen has anything like the access to this kind of sophisticated legal assistance.  For instance, if I wanted to get advice on Federal ADA Law, I could call the New England ADA Technical Center for advice, but I would be lucky if the person answering the phone even has a college degree! 
Since the Office of the Attorney General is mandated to defend all manner of State Government, this means that when any one of us challenges the Governor, any heads of agencies, or the agencies themselves, they will all have the extensive resources of the Attorney General's Office available to fight back against us.  That is why I find myself, as do many other individual litigants who are fighting for their Constitutional or Federal ADA rights, fighting against the consolidated might and power of the State through the Attorney General's Office. 
Most of us would expect our State Government, or the Attorney General's Office to be fighting for our Civil Rights.  It is a shock to find out that this is not happening.  But the Attorney General's Office uses deceitful language to hide that this is what they are doing.  That is why so many people who live in Connecticut don't know about it.
For instance, if you look at the website for the Office of the Attorney General for the State of Connecticut under the department it calls "Child Protection" the section indicates that the Attorney General has 40 attorneys who essentially represent the Department of Children and Families in thousands of cases involving children in juvenile court, Appellate and Supreme Court. 
What that really means is that free of charge to the Department of Children and Families (of course, we the taxpayers are actually funding all of this) attorneys attack the parents of children who have come to the attention of that Department and try to take custody from them.  These are parents who have to pay thousands and thousands of dollars to hire private attorneys in order to retain custody of their own children.  I am sure that among these cases are ones of serious abuse and neglect, but what about the many, many others where what you have are parents who can't afford to defend themselves in the face of an opponent with almost unlimited resources.
Does that seem fair to you? 
However, this is not the only example of the kind of injustice that the Attorney General's Office is perpetrating against its citizens, but attempts to hide.  Take a look at the section the Attorney General's Office calls "Civil Rights/Torts".  You might think that this department is in place to defend your civil rights as a citizen of the State of Connecticut.  But if that is what you thought, you would be entirely wrong! 
That Department is in place to defend "state agencies, employees and officials in torts and civil rights cases" brought against them in state and federal court.  In other words, when State government violates your civil rights as a citizen of the State of Connecticut, what the Attorney General's Office does is prevent them from being held accountable for doing so. 
Moving down further on the list, there is the Employment Rights Department.  You'd think that this department would be in place to defend your employment rights as a citizen of the State of Connecticut.  But no, that isn't it at all.  This Department is currently defending--that means opposing citizens, taxpaying citizens such as you and me--in 160 employment cases in both state and federal court.  So when state agencies and state officials violate your employment rights, the Office of the Attorney General will fight to the death to defend their right to do so. 
Not only is the Office of the Attorney General fighting against Connecticut citizens in the employment arena, it is also defending the right of state agencies and state officials to discriminate against Connecticut citizens in another 160 cases before the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.  These cases have to do with discrimination against Connecticut citizens based upon race, color, sex, religion, disability or age.  So in essence, the Office of the Attorney General is defending the right of the State of Connecticut to discriminate against its own citizens as it pleases.
So essentially, the Office of the Attorney General is out to deny Connecticut Citizens their right to parent, their right to be employed and their right to exercise their civil rights here in the State of Connecticut. 
Where this became particularly interesting was in the federal lawsuit conducted by the Office of Protection and Advocacy against the State of Connecticut where the State of Connecticut was represented by the Office of the Attorney General.  This meant that one State Agency fighting for the rights of disabled citizens of the State of Connecticut fought against the Office of the Attorney General, which was defending the State of Connecticut, for eight years, both sides funded by the Connecticut taxpayer, before the Office of the Attorney General conceded that the Office of Protection and Advocacy was right.  Imagine the waste of thousands and thousands of dollars involved in defense of that litigation waged by the Office of the Attorney General to illegally deny disabled citizens of the State of Connecticut their civil rights under Federal ADA law. 
How absurd is it when State Government maintains an army of attorneys to fight against the wellbeing of its own citizens and to evade responsibility when it has committed wrongdoing against those citizens?
The absurdity of this situation is so great that early last year the United States Attorney General Eric Holder told a group of state attorney's general that they are not obligated to do so, specifically in regard to bans on same sex marriages (See The Tar Heel, 2/26/14).  It's about time the federal government took a principled stand like that. 
It is worth noting that it is true that there are other States that act similarly to Connecticut and run the Office of the Attorney General as a private army to protect state government interests against its citizens.  States such as Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, North Carolina, and Georgia come to mind. 
However, many other states mandate that their Offices of the Attorney General protect the interests of citizens.  For instance, take a look at the Civil Rights Division of the Office of the Attorney General in Massachusetts.  Under the description of its responsibilities it states, "The Attorney General's Civil Rights Division enforces and safeguards Constitutional and statutory civil rights and liberties on behalf of Massachusetts residents and visitors.  The Division works to end discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, gender, gender identity, religion, sexual orientation, age and disability, and to ensure equal and meaningful opportunity to each Massachusetts resident to participate in a civil society in areas such as education, housing, employment, financial services, healthcare, transportation, voting and marriage.  In addition, the division works to protect individual rights of free speech and privacy."  
You won't find this mandate anywhere in the description of what the Office of the Attorney General in the State of Connecticut is required to do. 
How about the State of New York?  According to their website, "The Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Attorney General's Office works to promote equal justice under law and seeks to enforce the civil rights of all New Yorkers." 
Again, you won't find this mandate anywhere on the website for the Attorney General of the State of Connecticut. 
How about Delaware?  The Delaware Office of the Attorney General states that one of its main areas of responsibility are the "enforcement of Delaware laws protecting the individual rights and liberties of Delawareans, including but not limited to rights secured by the Delaware and United States constitutions, Delaware's public accommodations laws, housing discrimination laws, employment discrimination laws, and laws protecting the educational rights of children and the rights of Delawareans with disabilities." 
Again, we don't have this in Connecticut. 
And I could continue--New Jersey, Virginia, Rhode Island, Florida, Illinois, all states with Attorney General's Offices that are there to protect the rights of citizens.  These are states with actual democracies.
In contrast, citizens of the State of Connecticut who attempt to fight for their legal rights in the State of Connecticut have to face down an entire army of attorneys funded and maintained by the State in order to obtain them.  So what's the difference between living in the State of Connecticut and living in a police state?  Not much to be honest.

Monday, September 1, 2014


For the last two years I have been involved in an ADA case in Federal court fighting for my Federal disability rights.  In my early days of this legal battle, I initially turned to the Office of the Attorney General thinking that office would be the first to stand up for my rights as a Citizen of the State of Connecticut.  To my surprise, I found that the Office of the Attorney General was on the other side of the aisle acting as Opposing Council for the Connecticut Judicial Branch which had consistently discriminated against me based upon disability.  How could this be?
The stated mission of the Office of the Attorney General, among other things, is as follows:  "to represent and advocate the interests of the state and its citizens as vigorously as possible, to ensure that the state government acts within the letter and spirit of the law...that the quality of life of all our citizens is preserved and enhanced, and that the rights of our most vulnerable citizens are safeguarded." 
Granted such a mission, wouldn't you expect the Office of the Attorney General to be the first out there defending the rights of citizens with disabilities? 
In fact, this is not so.  Out of all the mandates that are in place in regard to what the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General should be doing, the one that takes up the majority of its resources is the mandate to "appear for the state, the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the Secretary, the Treasurer and the Comptroller, and for all heads of departments and state boards, commissioners, agents, inspectors, committees, auditors, chemists, directors, harbor masters, and institutions and for the State Librarian in all suits and other civil which the state is a party..."  The office is also called to appear for any members of the state legislature who are being sued in regard to their actions in the state legislature. 
In other words, the Office of the Attorney General here in Connecticut is here to protect State government from its own citizens when its actions have been called into question.  

Not only does the Attorney General provide legal representation to State agencies and to the legislature, it also provides detailed analysis of the legal issues these entities face, some of which cannot help but be self serving.  For instance, a carefully written, nine page, single spaced legal opinion  which the AG sent on September 24, 2013 to Commissioner Patricia Reymer of DMHAS conveniently finds justification for P.A. 13-03 and its violations of the privacy rights of people with mental health disabilities who choose to obtain voluntary in-hospital treatment.  If citizen advocates had the same access to such a crackerjack team of highly experienced attorneys, they would certainly achieve considerably more successful results. 
Another interesting charge that the Office of the Attorney General has taken on is that of acting as a Collection Agency in obtaining child support from non-custodial parents.  Thus, the opening pages of the Annual Report FY 2012-2013 for the Office of the Attorney General boasts about the fact that the Office was able to rake in $36,186,195 for the State in Child Support Payments. 
So non-custodial parents in Family Court who find themselves dragged to Court, bullied and their wages garnished, or else thrown into jail, have the Office of the Attorney General to thank. 
These kinds of actions are not true of other Attorney General's Offices in other parts of the Country.  Well, I will agree there are some like Alabama who do this kind of thing.  But when I looked at an equivalent state such as Illinois, this is what the Office of the Attorney General does in Illinois.  I am now looking at the online page for the Office of the Attorney General in Illinois entitled "Defending Your Rights." 
Here we go, "The Attorney General's Civil Rights Bureau (it has one!) enforces state and federal civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination in Illinois."  In regard to Disability Rights this page states, "The Disability Rights Bureau (it has one) enforces State and Federal laws protecting the rights of people with disabilities.  The Bureau ensures compliance with laws mandating access to buildings, housing, and services for people with disabilities by investigating and resolving complaints through negotiation and litigation.  In addition, the Disability Rights Bureau provides technical assistance and referrals to individuals with disabilities and public and private entities seeking to comply with disability rights laws." 
So what about New York State.  They also have a Civil Rights Bureau regarding which the online page states the following, "The Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Attorney General's Office works to promote equal justice under the law and seeks to enforce the civil rights of all New Yorkers.  The Bureau enforces laws that protect all New Yorkers from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, marital status, source of income or disability.  Using federal, state, and local civil rights laws, such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Fair Housing Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans With Disabilities Act and other landmark laws, the Bureau investigates and prosecutes discrimination in a variety of areas." 
In Pennsylvania, the Office of the Attorney General includes a Civil Rights Enforcement Section.  According to the brochure, "One of the goals of the Office of the Attorney General is to ensure that, as required by law, all Pennsylvanians are treated without regard to race, color, national origin, ancestry, gender, age, religion, holding a General Education Development Certificate (G.E.D.), being disabled, being related to someone who is disabled or having children under the age of 18." 
So Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania are fighting to protect their citizens from discrimination and the violation of their state and federal civil rights, but Connecticut, despite having a very similar mandate, i.e. to make sure that the "rights of our most vulnerable citizens are safeguarded" has simply chosen to renege on that responsibility.  Instead, our Office of the Attorney General uses its approximately 300 employee strong department full of attorneys, paralegals, and administrative assistants to fight Connecticut Citizens who are simply requesting that our State Government and State Agencies act in a manner that respects their Civil, Constitutional, and Human Rights. 
If you add to this the Office of the Claims Commissioner, a highly unusual system which gives a single individual the right to prevent citizens from suing the State of Connecticut for damages, you have a State Government that has most uniquely fortified itself from any responsibility to respect the civil rights of Connecticut citizens or to be held accountable to Connecticut citizens in any meaningful way. 
I know that many of you reading this article will say that you have never had that problem--that you have never been discriminated against, or jailed because of a failure to pay child support, so it doesn't really affect you. 
In fact, if you think this way, you would be wrong.  Connecticut is known as having one of the worst economies in the nation and being the fourth least business friendly State in the Country.  All of us, in some way or another, have been affected by the devastating economic impact of this situation, either through the high cost of living or through unemployment. 
In a recent article, Forbes Magazine pinpointed the reason for our economic problems in the State of Connecticut within our corrupt judicial and political systems. 
Why do we have such corruption? 
We have corruption because our Office of the Attorney General which should be protecting the interests of the Citizens of the State of Connecticut are busily protecting the Connecticut State Government and its State Agencies from any kind of accountability. 
One particularly striking instance of this was the federal case Office of Protection and Advocacy vs. The State of Connecticut where the OPA sued the State to protect the interests of mental health patients under the Olmsted Act.  A similar case already litigated in Illinois indicated that the OPA's position was legally correct as did an Amicus Brief submitted by  the Department of Justice.  Nonetheless, the Office of the Attorney General dragged the Office of Protection and Advocacy through the federal court system for eight years to the tune of thousands and thousands of our taxpayer dollars, rather than simply agree to obey the law.  
The end result is that Connecticut citizens are being denied their rights and we have one of the most corrupt and economically depressed States in the nation.  Why is this happening?  Because the Office of the Attorney General is not doing its job of protecting Connecticut citizens and is instead attacking, cannibalizing, and undermining them.  As citizens of the State of Connecticut, we need to demand that the Office of the Attorney General fulfill its complete mandate to fight for the rights of the citizens in this State.