State police want to arrest judge who refused to sign arrest warrant

Unless the victim was also arrested. You can’t make this shit up. And if it were April 1st today, I might laugh it off as a clever joke. But it’s not and apparently neither is this.

Here’s the lowdown, from the two meager paywall inhibited articles that I could find. State Trooper from Salisbury, CT (where watching paint dry is exciting) Mark Lauretano apparently submitted an arrest warrant for a man who got into a bar fight with someone else. The “victim” of the fight (meaning the guy who got beaten up worse), was obviously not arrested, as these things go. Judge Klatt, upon reviewing the information in the warrant declined to sign it, apparently until the “victim” was also arrested.

Judge Klatt, a former prosecutor from Death Valley Waterbury, CT, should have known better. You simply do not refuse the State Police what they want. So instead of, I don’t know, reviewing the information again to see if maybe the Judge had a point, Lauretano does the logical thing and is now seeking an arrest warrant for the Judge herself*.

Because, you know – no, actually I don’t know. He claims that:

The fact that Judge Klatt is currently holding onto a valid arrest warrant for the accused and refusing to sign it until and unless she receives an arrest warrant for the victim is coercion and a violation of criminal law.

Actually, I prefer to call it “not engaging in selective prosecution”.

Assuming, of course, that the reason the judge didn’t sign the arrest warrant was because she personally knows the defendant-elect, this highlights a problem that we in the defense field have long observed: that arrests in these and domestic violence and violation of protective order cases are always one-sided. Man and girlfriend get into fight and it’s always only the man who’s arrested. There’s a running joke that the way to “win” a fight is to get injured just slightly more than the other guy. They’ll never arrest you if you come out looking like the worse of the two. You see it in self-defense cases, too.

But that’s neither hither nor thither. Let’s take a look at what the good Trooper accuses the judge of doing: coercion and “hindering a police investigation”.

Coercion, CGS 53a-192, states:

(a) A person is guilty of coercion when he compels or induces another person to engage in conduct which such other person has a legal right to abstain from engaging in, or to abstain from engaging in conduct in which such other person has a legal right to engage, by means of instilling in such other person a fear that, if the demand is not complied with, the actor or another will: (1) Commit any criminal offense; or (2) accuse any person of a criminal offense; or (3) expose any secret tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or to impair any person’s credit or business repute; or (4) take or withhold action as an official, or cause an official to take or withhold action.

(b) It shall be an affirmative defense to prosecution based on subdivision (2), (3) or (4) of subsection (a) of this section that the actor believed the accusation or secret to be true or the proposed official action justified and that his purpose was limited to compelling the other person to behave in a way reasonably related to the circumstances which were the subject of the accusation, exposure or proposed official action, as by desisting from further misbehavior or making good a wrong done.

(c) Coercion is a class A misdemeanor except, if the threat is to commit a felony, coercion is a class D felony.

Ugh. Best I can tell, Lauretano feels like Judge Klatt is compelling him, or inducing him, to abstain from engaging in conduct that he has a legal right to engage in (arresting the defendant-elect). But there also has to be a showing that he’s afraid that if he does not arrest the “victim”, he will himself be the victim of a crime, be accused of a crime, his secrets will be exposed or the judge will “take or withhold action as an official”, whatever the hell that means.

[Update: As astutely pointed out by Gamso in the comments below, the irony is that Lauretano's actions more closely fit the definition of coercion than the judge's. Compelling the judge? Check. Conduct that the judge has a legal right to abstain from engaging? Check. Instilling in the judge the fear that if the demand is not complied with he will accuse her of committing a crime? Check. Subsection (b) might apply to him, but as we all know, an affirmative defense is not a bar to prosecution. Methinks the trooper may not want to play this game much longer.]

So if not coercion, then what else? “Hindering a police investigation” isn’t a crime. There’s no such thing in CT. There’s “Hindering prosecution” and “interfering with the police”. I’m going to assume it’s the latter. CGS 53a-167a states:

(a) A person is guilty of interfering with an officer when such person obstructs, resists, hinders or endangers any peace officer, special policeman appointed under section 29-18b, Department of Motor Vehicles inspector appointed under section 14-8 and certified pursuant to section 7-294d, or firefighter in the performance of such peace officer’s, special policeman’s or firefighter’s duties.

(b) Interfering with an officer is a class A misdemeanor.

Interfering with an officer can – and does – mean many things in Connecticut. A Judge acting in furtherance of her duties cannot be one of them. If that were to be the case, then any and all warrants must be signed by judges, otherwise they’d all be interfering with officers.

I’m glad that Salisbury has nothing else going on that a State Trooper wastes his time applying for an arrest warrant for a judge for 2 misdemeanors and also makes a statement to the press.

I wonder what’ll happen if another superior court judge refuses to sign this warrant for Judge Klatt’s arrest.  Ad Infinitum.

[*Obviously, this is all based on the limited information we have so far. If it turns out that the judge refused to sign the warrant for reasons that are less than kosher, then we have a different story on our hands.]

33 thoughts on “State police want to arrest judge who refused to sign arrest warrant

  1. Jeff Gamso

    Isn’t the cop guilty (assuming the bona fides of the story) of attempted coercion? I mean, the judge is supposed to make an independent determination of the merits of the warrant, and if the judge doesn’t sign, well, she has a legal right to abstain from signing it. And the cop is, pretty clearly, “accusing [the judge] of a criminal offense.”
    So the judge should, really, swear out an arrest warrant on the cop. Or at least sign one once she finds a cop to swear one out.

    Oh, what a tangled web.

    Reply
    1. Gideon Post author

      Indeed. But of course, the cop doesn’t see it that way. I’m the STATE POLICE dammit.

      His actions – threatening her with arrest – fit “coercion” far better than her reported actions.

      Reply
  2. John C. Randolph

    Any police officer who attempts to intimidate a judge like this needs to be immediately dismissed from the public payroll. I don’t care what the union says, if he’s trying to overrule a judge, then he’s not a lawman.

    -jcr

    Reply
  3. DannyJ119

    Me thinks that perhaps this state trooper has his eyes set on a district attorney election in the future. You know, you’ve gotta get your name out there…”Tough on crime and even tougher on ‘soft’ judges.”

    Reply
    1. Gideon Post author

      I’m not sure he’s a lawyer. We don’t have elected district attorneys here in CT, but he sure seems like he’s bored. Word is that they’ve got it out for her because she, you know, follows the law.

      Reply
  4. Mark Draughn

    I suspect the strange behavior by the police will all make more sense once we have the full identity of the “victim.” It’s almost got to be a member of the police community–friend, family, coworker, ex-cop, maybe even a cop who couldn’t make the arrest himself for some reason.

    Reply
    1. Gideon Post author

      That’s a valid point. I was suspecting that the defendant could be someone known to the Judge, but this ridiculous outrage on the part of Arpaio–I mean Lauretano could be explained by your hypothesis.

      Reply
  5. Pingback: State Cop Wants To Arrest Judge For Refusing To Sign His Warrant - INGunOwners

  6. shg

    I’m with Windy on this, though not sure where the skunk will be found. There’s something missing from the story thus far, and when it finally surfaces, it will make more sense. Now, it just smells.

    Reply
  7. Mark Draughn

    Yeah, when I started hearing about this, my first thought was, “Oh, not Arpaio again…” It’s a worrisome trend, this arresting of judges for standing up to the police.

    Reply
  8. Pingback: State police seek arrest warrant on judge - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum

  9. Lloyd

    and this is what passes for law enforcement here in Connecticut. These lame bastards believe themselves to BE the law and not subject to it.

    It is routine here to see state troopers drive 80 mph on I95 when they are NOT involved in a pursuit and going nowhere except to pull over the common citizen who dares drive the same speed.

    sick bastards pretending to “protect and serve” the public.

    Reply
    1. gerard

      There are worse things. Such as a police officer driving the posted speed limit and causing a five mile backup because no one wants to pass them.

      Reply
      1. Lloyd

        If the police officer intends to be respected and enforce the law, that’s what he better be doing, ie. driving exactly the speed limit and not one MPH more.

        And yes, there are worse things…
        * like an entire squad of narcotics officers in New Haven arrested for dealing drugs
        * like a State Trooper in Hartford convicted of attempted murder of his ex girlfriend and after using the state police computers to dig up information on her current boyfriend
        or like, in this case, an arrogant POS thinking he has the authority to issue an arrest warrant for a judge who didn’t see things his way.

        Reply
  10. Pingback: Do You Remember Coercion? | Truth and Justice For All

  11. Larken Rose

    Just a guess here, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit if the reason the jackboot is so eager for that warrant, and so NON-eager for a warrant on “the other guy,” is because “the other guy” (the guy who lost the fight) is a fellow jackboot. Given the gang mentality of the jackboots, the picture would then make sense, wouldn’t it? Is that what’s going on? I don’t know; I’m only guessing. Place your bets.

    Reply
  12. Pete

    The cop is certainly overstepping his/her boudaries, criminally probably. The judge is as well though. If probable cause is found the judge MUST issue charging documents. If the person charged is the
    “loser” of the fight, thats a defense in court. Probable cause is a very low burden. The judge is looking at defenses and what is “fair”. This may be unpopular but fair and just re decided in court, at trial. Denying a citizen the right to have their grievance heard and acted upon is worse.

    Reply
    1. Lloyd

      “If probable cause is found” I believe THIS is the Judge’s role, not the POS cop. That’s exactly why the cop needs the Judge’s signature and if the Judge doesn’t see probably cause, then the cop needs to either STFU and go back to work or file a judicial complaint the correct way.

      And I would not simply assume the Judge is out of line without seeing the evidence. We already know this cop is a psychotic asshole so perhaps the entire arrest warrant was bogus?

      Reply
  13. John Boanerges

    Great to be surprised by seeing Larken Rose’s post on this. I always like his articles. I am formerly from Connecticut and am a ‘Former’, myself (gave it up when I got my engineering degree and had better offers), but am not in the least surprised by Laurantano’s arrogance. I encountered this culture every day for 3 years. And THEN there is the attitude elsewhere that has manifested itself when I have been arrested for traveling without government ‘approval’ (see my blog) which shows me that Connecticut is hardly the armpit of copdom. Copdom is the armpit of government, instead. No, wait, legislators are several rungs lower.

    Reply
  14. Cormac

    So…copper doesn’t want victim to be clapped in irons (or steels, i suppose).
    Wouldn’t it be better to just arrest them both and let the investigation and the prosecutors decide whom to press charges against? Assuming any charges end up being pressed…maybe they’ll both just clam up and be happy to go their separate ways if they both get canned for the same brawl.

    Smart judge…encouraging these D-bags to just let a fight be a fight.

    Reply
  15. Devils advocate

    I think the cop is invoking the part about withholding action. I think the judge was correct in not selecively prosecuting just one person when it sounds like two people were involved. Still, from reading your post regarding the statutes I would consider not signing an arrest unless X counts as wihholding action. Yes, this would probably mean judges have an obligation first to the police, above and before the interests of justice.

    Reply
    1. Gideon Post author

      The problem with that, obviously, is the danger it creates for regular people. If judges have no discretion in deciding what warrants should issue, then an officer can write whatever he wants in it and a judge has to sign it.

      Reply
  16. Alexander

    At first I was furious. But then I reflected:

    Whether the other party should have been arrested too has no bearing on whether there is probable cause against the party who was arrested. It is, of course, for the judge to determine whether there was probable cause against the arrestee — but if he’d be willing to sign a warrant for the arrestee AND someone else, he must think there is probable cause against the arrestee. If so, he is obligated to sign the warrant against the arrestee. The judge does not have the discretion to decide who deserves trial more; his duty is to say whether there is probable cause or not. Prosecutorial discretion rests with the executive, not the judiciary.

    Police officers, on the other hand, do have the discretion to arrest one person and not another, even if legally speaking both are equally guilty, provided that they do not make this decision for an improper reason. Obviously, it would be improper to arrest the black guy and not the white guy (or vice-versa) on account of race; obviously, it would be proper to arrest the guy who initiated and did almost all the violence and not the guy who under much provocation fought back (even if legally he was required to flee).

    Thus, assuming no improper reason was involved, the officer had the right to arrest the guy he arrested and not the other guy. And the judge decided he would withhold official action (signing the warrant) unless the cop did what he had a right not to do (arrest the other fighter). So the judge may in fact be guilty.

    The fact (if it is one) that the judge recognized that there was probable cause, but withheld the warrant in order to make the cop reverse himself on a matter properly within the cop’s discretion makes this very different from the typical refusal to sign a warrant. Ordinarily, such refusal means that the judge does not think there is probable cause. And refusal for that reason is the right and indeed the duty of the judge.

    Now, I’m still concerned that there could be a chilling effect — that judges will be intimidated into signing warrants they ought not to sign. But that doesn’t mean the judge is not actually guilty.

    Reply
    1. Gideon Post author

      Incredibly well thought out comment. Thanks for that. I still don’t know if she is “guilty” of coercion – and good luck ever finding another judge to sign that warrant, but I do believe that judges do – and should – have the inherent authority to decide if a warrant shall issue. Otherwise the judicial function in that arena gets reduced to a mere rubber stamp.

      Whether there is any jurisprudential support for this idea of mine is another question.

      Reply
  17. Pingback: There’s you, and then there’s us. | The Minuteman

  18. gocart mozart

    State Trooper from Salisbury, CT (where watching paint dry is exciting)

    Well yeah now that Rip Torn sober, or is he?

    Judge Klatt, a former prosecutor from Death Valley Waterbury, CT, should have known better.

    Oh, so you been to Waterbury have you.

    Reply
  19. Alan

    mozart i think your latter comment is either incomprehensible or lacks sufficient detail to respond to. Waterbury seeks the death penalty more than other J.D.s… it wasn’t a comment on his connecticut travels any more than it was a comment on clemson’s football stadium.

    and about this whole story, … i favor a judge’s discretion over a state trooper’s pretty much any day of the week. that being said, i think they are both in the wrong for the reasons commented on above, specifically, the judge implying that she would sign the warrant only if the officer also went after the “victim.” as nicely stated above, that is not the judiciary’s role – that role is executive in nature. however, i can’t believe the trooper would actually respond that way. it prompted me to look up a word that i haven’t had reason to use in quite some time…

    meg·a·lo·ma·ni·a
    ? ?/?m?g?lo??me?ni?/ Show Spelled[meg-uh-loh-mey-nee-uh] Show IPA
    –noun
    1.
    Psychiatry . a symptom of mental illness marked by delusions of greatness, wealth, etc.
    2.
    an obsession with doing extravagant or grand things.
    3.
    Trooper Lauretano’s mindset.
    4.
    Something we should test for when selecting people to be troopers…
    …I don’t care if you can hit the bullseye with your 9 mm sig sauer.
    I care that you aren’t an asshole.

    Reply

Leave a Reply