Daily Archives: July 13, 2007

New Chief State’s Attorney for Hartford appointed: Impact on death penalty policy?

The other big story this week is the appointment of a new Chief State’s Attorney for Hartford’s Part A court. Waterbury prosecutor Gail P. Hardy was appointed to the post, replacing current State’s Attorney James Thomas. Attorney Thomas is retiring after 30 years as a prosecutor, 11 of which were spent as Hartford’s top prosecutor. Hardy beat out several other applicants, including 7 who are currently working in the Hartford office. Attorney Thomas had some choice words about that.

Attorney Hardy worked for Waterbury State’s Attorney John Connelly and it will be interesting to see how Hartford handles capital felonies from here on out. As readers might know, a hearing on the constitutionality of application of the death penalty in Connecticut just concluded in which defense attorneys argued that the death penalty was applied arbitrarily (and mostly in Waterbury).

Whether her experience and tutelage under John Connelly in Waterbury will impact the Hartford office’s policy to pursue the death penalty in a greater number of cases remains to be seen.

“Banned words” trial starts/ends (?) with mistrial

Before the trial began, the Nebraska judge that earlier banned [previous coverage] the use of the words “rape”, “victim”, etc… declared a mistrial stating that all the publicity surrounding his decision would make it difficult for jurors to be untainted.

In a written explanation of his ruling, Cheuvront said Bowen and her friends drummed up pretrial publicity that tainted potential jurors.

They signed a petition decrying the word ban and posted it on a Web site that encouraged people to gather in front of the courthouse Monday to protest, Cheuvront wrote. Monday was the first day of jury selection; another rally occurred Wednesday.

“The inescapable conclusion from the petition promoting the rally is that Ms. Bowen and her friends hoped to intimidate this court and interfere with the selection of a fair and impartial jury,” Cheuvront wrote in his order released Thursday afternoon.

Bowen said she did not intend to taint the jury and wants closure in the matter, but chose to speak out after Cheuvront’s order because “silencing rape victims is something that has been done for far too long.”

Cheuvront also wrote the trial would be continued, with a date to be set later, and that the court may move the trial to a different county.

Once this story hit the national headlines, it was inevitable that something like this would happen. Interesting to note, however, is that this would have been the second trial, the first having ended up with a hung jury. The judge had banned the use of those words in the first trial as well. Was there any outrage then?

My thoughts on this are pretty well documented in my previous post.