Interviews & Articles]
Author's Book on Legal Injustice
By Susan Frome, Staff Reporter
The Lakeville Journal
LITCHFIELD -- Litchfield resident Andy Thibault, a columnist for
LawTribune Newspapers, considers himself a muckraker in the old tradition.
According to Websters New World College Dictionary, the term dates back to
Theodore Roosevelts speech of 1906, which referred "to the man with
the muck rake in Bunyans Pilgrims Progress. To muckrake is to search for
and publicize, as in newspapers, any real or alleged corruption by public
officials, business executives or other important persons."
Thibault said he became interested in journalism at
the age of 11 as a paperboy in Uncasville, Conn. "My treat was to get
to read the paper first. My first heroes were sportswriters."
By 17 he himself was a sportswriter for the Norwich
Bulletin. Later, at Boston University (BU) he majored in political science
and was greatly influenced by Howard Zinn, now professor emeritus of
political science at BU, who introduced Thibault to the concepts of social
justice and advocacy. At BU, Thibault became a reporter and editor for the
BU News, a weekly with a circulation of 17,000.
His first exposure to corruption in the police
and court arenas came when he covered the Showalter case in 1973 in New
London. According to Chapter One of his new book, "Law and Justice in
Everyday Life," Kevin Showalter, a 20-year-old college student, was
struck and killed on Pequot Avenue while trying to change a tire. After
investigation, writes Thibault, the hit-and-run driver was never
apprehended, even though evidence gathered over the years pointed to
former New London Mayor Harvey Mallove.
In essence, Thibault's new book is a compilation of
articles and stories he has written concerning such instances of injustice
in Connecticut and Massachusetts. It also includes stories that have
turned out well.
One that turned out well concerned the question of
creating a girls soccer team at Litchfield High School in 1995. It
appeared the school had violated a Title IX statute by denying female
students athletic opportunities that are equivalent to those available to
male students. "A complaint invoking Title IX forced the Litchfield
local school board to begin a girls soccer program in 1996. [After] the
team won its first game, Governor John Rowland declared Nov. 17, 1999,
Litchfield High School Girls Soccer Team Day, citing the team as a model,
not only for girls sports, but also for all youngsters faced with tough
odds and huge obstacles," wrote Thibault.
Thibault said the system works, "but citizens
have to fight for it. [People] can bring issues to the public's attention
by writing letters to editors, or sending copies of stories to people in
power. Democracy works if you fight for it."
He added that he wrote the book for ordinary people
about Everyman and Everywoman going through the [justice] system. "My
favorite authors are John Steinbeck and Jimmy Breslin, who wrote about the
glory and potential goodness [in ordinary people]. There are good people
in law and justice and sometimes the good guys win."
Book signings will be held Jan. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at
Barnes & Noble, Danbury, and Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. at Barnes and Noble