Interviews & Articles]
WTIC Morning Show
With Ray Dunaway And Diane Smith
Aug. 26, 2002, 9:07 a.m.
Hartford, CT CBS affiliate 1080 AM
Teaser: Andy Thibault is a columnist for Law Tribune Newspapers. He has
written a new book which essentially rips the lid off the practice of law
in Connecticut, Law And Justice In Everyday Life - dirty cops, political
hacks, inept judges, bureaucratic inertia - on the other side, the good
guys. And Andy Thibault will give us the score in just a few minutes on
WTIC News Talk 1080.
RAY DUNAWAY, RD
DIANE SMITH, DS
ANDY THIBAULT, AT
RD - Andy Thibault is someone we have talked to any number of times on
this program. We've probably had Andy on 5, 6 times.
DS - I would guess, yeah. Andy is a guy that you might have called in the
old days a muckraker. Andy has a penchant for finding trouble and then
trying to do something about it, which has made him a hero to a lot of
people because Andy tends to go where others fear to tread. Often these
days that means taking on the legal system in Connecticut because he
writes a column for [Law Tribune Newspapers]. And now a number of his
columns have been put together in a book. And I'll tell you what, if you
want to get scared about what goes on in Connecticut but also inspired,
this is the
book to read. It's called Law And Justice In Everyday Life, by Andy
Thibault. Good morning, Andy.
AT - Hi Diane, how are you?
DS - I'm good, thank you, and you're keeping a low profile for the next
AT - Well, I walk down the street and talk to my dogs and take my kids
DS - Because the truth is, Andy, some of these columns have stirred people
up, they've also gotten some results for people who were wronged by the
AT - Well, if you talk to anybody, regular people, a lot of people have
been given the shaft by not just the court system, but by any government
entity. They go to town hall, they want a document, they're treated like
lepers, or they're scared when they walk into a courtroom - sometimes for
good reason. Good reason?
DS -- Because why, Andy?
AT - Many times the deck is stacked. You have to fight the deck in any
number of ways which could include having a lot of money, having a great
lawyer, maybe for whatever reason the judge likes or respects your lawyer.
RD - Andy, that's a good question. How many people, a lot of times if
you're facing some sort of criminal charge, the fact is hiring the right
lawyer, a lawyer that's connected, can make a lot of difference.
AT - It can make the difference between a life in prison or walking the
RD - We like to think of the law as this kind of impartial thing where the
judge is sitting there, but the fact of the matter is being connected is
not a bad thing if you're practicing law.
AT - Sure. And I must say there are many fair, straight-down-the-line
judges, prosecutors who while maybe not impartial, try very hard to
do the right thing and do the right thing. I even have some judges who are
heroes of mine. Not too many. But a few.
DS - And the interesting thing is there is probably no greater champion of
cops than you are, but there are some dirty cops and when you find them
you show no mercy. I feel that's appropriate, but a lot of people are
afraid to take these people on.
AT - Bad cops have no sense of humor.
DS - You've found out oh so many times.
AT - But I greatly admire, for the most part, the Connecticut State
Police, and even people in many local departments. But they all have their
problems. If you come upon the facts, it's your duty to do something about
RD - Gee, here's an interesting transcript from the Diane Smith Morning
Show. My goodness, I didn't know I worked here.
AT - You were on vacation again, Ray.
RD - It was actually a year ago, I was on vacation.
AT - On the other occasion it's (title of show, The Ray Dunaway Morning
Show With Diane Smith) printed properly.
RD - I know it is. Hey, Andy, seriously, let's talk about some of the
things you do get into in this book. This goes back to the point Diane
made a few minutes ago, about you do cover cops and things of that sort.
You did something on Brian Aselton, for example.
AT - Yeah, I mean, Geez, what a crazy place that dispatch center. They get
a call and people are doing crossword puzzles or they say, "That
guy's a nerd anyway," and he's dying. So there was a pretty good
investigation of the East Hartford Police Department dispatch center. And
maybe if the dispatch center was operating properly Officer Aselton would
still be alive.
DS - That's not the first time that a dispatch center has been really the
source of a problem. More frequently, it's the citizens who are on the
losing ends because the dispatch center isn't operating properly, and not
a police officer. In that case, by all accounts, it happened to be a young
terrific cop who lost his life.
AT - There's another dispatch case that bothers me, I think about it
often. A woman in Middletown is going through a divorce and she calls for
help. The cops are very slow to respond. I listened to the tape. But they
show up before or after to see if the dog's OK. As I recall, I think her
estranged husband was a firefighter. So all politics and law enforcement
DS - One of the cases you have been following for a long time, I guess
goes back to the days when you were a reporter out in the New London area,
for The New London Day?
Tell us a little bit about that one. How many years have you been working
on that one?
AT -- Well, I guess close to 30 years. However, I worked for The
Norwich Bulletin. The New London Day covered up the story.
DS - I'm sorry.
AT - It was the cover-up of the hit-and-run death of Kevin Showalter,
11:12 p.m. Christmas Eve 1973 on a clear [night] and well-lit street with
a witness 6-feet away who saw nothing. Basically, the prime suspect,
Harvey Mallove, was a very nice guy, a great guy to have a beer with, I
could say to him, "Mr. Mallove, this is what's in the paper
tomorrow." He'd say, "I understand, but I didn't kill the kid in
any way, shape or form." But his best friend, Judge Angelo
Santaniello, controlled that investigation. He was the administrative
judge for the county. As I report in these columns and in the book, Harvey
attended a few parties that night, one of them at the home of Judge
Santaniello's political godfather, Peter Mariani, and it's very likely
that Harvey would not have gone there on his own. Judge Santaniello once
called my boss and said, "I never go out on Christmas Eve," but
we never asked him.
RD - This is really a trip down memory lane, Andy. I'm enjoying this,
including the Stonington High School story.
AT -- Oh boy, that's a terrible story.
RD - That was the one, do you remember this, they were coming in to
recruit kids to work at a local fast food joint and of course there was an
assembly and a kid got up, some kids were asking rather uncomfortable
questions of the folks who were recruiting. Apparently, one of them got
smacked pretty good for it.
AT - Yeah, gee, inquisitive students who want to learn. We've got to stop
that. The Stonington Public School System is noted for trying to teach
subservience. They had a kid who had some questions about what's in French
Fries for McDonald's. He was punished severely in any number of ways.
There was no basis in law for what they did. If it was my kid, I'd own
that school system.
RD - Apparently the kid had to get up and apologize over the PA,
essentially for asking the question.
AT - He was coerced to apologize, he was ridiculed, he was treated like
crap for [acting like] a U.S. citizen by everybody on up from the
disciplinarians in the high school to the superintendent. It's
RD - I notice you also get into the little deal that's become somewhat of
an issue in the current campaign, and of course that is the CRRA deal.
AT - Yeah, that's a barrel of laughs. The way they threw that money away.
RD - You also mention Joe Ganim, he looms large here, we have, you're
pretty much into everybody in this thing.
DS - Including some people like Mia Farrow and Woody Allen. Tell us a
little bit about that. This is from 1997, and the column is called Woody,
Mia and Frank Maco.
AT - That was actually printed in Connecticut Magazine, but it detailed
the criminal complaint against Woody Allen and the acts he was accused of
committing on his 7-year-old [adoptive] daughter. Some of them I can't
even say on the radio, but thankfully Connecticut Magazine printed them.
Basically, Yale, you think Yale must mean quality, but they botched the
investigation. They failed to meet standard norms for interviewing a kid
in that kind of situation.
DS - And Yale was involved because of its Childhoold
AT - Child Study Team. A very bad joke. They interviewed the kid 9 times.
They said, well, there's some inconsistencies. She said it clearly that he
did it 3 times and then there are variations. The kid said, oh, "My
mom has dead heads in the attic," so they said she has magical
thinking and fantasies. Well, her mom had wigs in her attic. It was
pathetic. It was a model case for how to screw up an investigation.
RD - Andy, after all these years of writing, are you still optimistic to a
AT - There are a lot of good people out there trying to do the right
thing. A lot of good cops, but if citizens are not vigilant, we all
get the shaft.
RD - Is that part of the reason you did this compilation of stories.
AT - Well, I can't sing or dance Ray, I've got to do something.
DS - One of the things that people who know you know about you, and you
talk about citizens have to be vigilant, you've filed probably more than
any one individual I know Freedom of Information complaints or requests
because you deeply believe in open government and that people ought to be
there observing what goes on and keeping track of our lawmakers as well as
judges and police officers and the bureaucracy.
AT - Sure, who owns these documents? We own them. The town officials are
the mere custodians. And they act like this is their precious gold that
you can't touch, well, that's our property they should just give it
DS -- Andy, in the book, as Ray points out, there are a lot of
examples of injustice. But you also take the opportunity to praise some of
the people you think are doing a good job. Why don't we take it out on
that note, with some of the people that you see
as the heroes in the system in our state.
AT - Well, there's a real tough prosecutor, John Massameno, that people
think is a maniac. Well, the defense lawyers, do. There's one good case
where Massameno went head to head with Jon Schoenhorn, a very tough and
good Hartford defense attorney. It was about an abuse case. It involved
the rights of the accused. Of course, Massameno was very creative. He
drives defense lawyers nuts because they're usually the creative ones.
They walked out and they got some level of justice regarding the status of
a criminal. He paid his price to some degree and he maintained his
constitutional rights as well. That's a good example of the system
working. One of my
heroes, forever, is Justice Dannehy, retired from the state Supreme Court,
out of Willimantic, he's got kids, one, a son, is a judge, the other, a
daughter, is a tough federal prosecutor. There's a person of integrity and
compassion. They think he's a hard guy, but underneath he's a real softie.
DS - I'd like to think those people outnumber the others, and I guess you
would agree with that for sure.
AT - Well, I'm not sure. I know there's a lot of good people trying to do
the right thing. Like at any job, there's a lot of people taking up space
and watching their behinds grow and that's how they advance.
RD - When you were growing up as a young guy, who were your heroes.
AT - Mickey Mantle.
RD - I mean in literature.
AT - John Steinbeck and Jimmy Breslin, Leo Connellan the late Poet
Laureate. And Howard Zinn, the guy who wrote my introduction was my
professor at B.U. Incredible, humble person. He wrote a book about a
Supreme Court decision called Nine Fallacies On Law And Order, and I
thought, well, that's a cool guy.
DS - Sounds like he influenced your thinking for a long time, Andy.
AT - Yeah, he turned my world upside down.
RD - Where do we find this book, Andy.
AT - Locally, in West Hartford there's The Bookworm, but any Barnes &
Noble or Borders or Amazon.com, all the traditional routes. Some stores
have it quicker than others. Baker & Taylor and Ingram, the
distributors, sometimes have a slow train, sometimes have a quick train.
But you can get it at any bookstore.
DS - Well, Andy, we appreciate you joining us for a while, and we do
appreciate that weekly column and how you keep on crusading for everyday
folks. The book is called Law And Justice In Everyday Life, by Andy
Thibault, I'm going to spell the last name in case you're at the book
RD - Good idea.
DS - It's T-h-i-b-a-u-l-t. Andy Thibault. So thanks for being with us,
Andy, good luck.
AT - Thank you, Diane, thank you, Ray.
RD - Good to talk with you. It's 9:21 on WTIC.