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Local Author's Book on Legal Injustice
By Susan Frome, Staff Reporter
The Lakeville Journal
12-19-2002

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 much questionable
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 in Waterbury.

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