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Bruce & Colin Show

WTIC AM 1080
CBS affiliate in Hartford, CT

Sept. 13, 2002

CM -- Colin McEnroe
AT -- Andy Thibault

CM - Everybody on the show today has a book out. And joining us now is Andy Thibault. His new book is called Law And Justice In Everyday Life. It tells about ordinary citizens as they encounter the justice system, and he's going to talk about a bunch of different things including - and I don't know if you came prepared to talk about this Andy, but I am kind of interested in your involvement in the Black Santa case. 

AT - I guess I'm prepared for that, Colin.

CM - Yeah, explain what's going on, this is actually a Litchfield case where you filed a Freedom of Information request, right.

AT - Yes. A gentleman placed a Black Santa Claus at Town Hall in what he said was an attempt to show that Litchfield was not a racist community, whereupon there were some complaints about the presence of the Black Santa. There was a memo from one town official to another. I had heard that the first selectman tore up the memo and I said, whoa, that's a public record, that's not very good, so I requested it under FOI.

CM --  And this is still pending, right?

AT - The FOI hearing officer has issued a finding that this was in fact a public record under the law. And it's a criminal act to destroy a public record.

CM - Yeah, by the way, it's our official position on this show that Santa Claus was a black man, and is a black man. This is the kind of thing that you do a lot, actually. You sort of go after these kind of things, find out about these things, you have kind of a crusading reputation. Is that fair to say?

AT - That's been said.

CM - You want to mention a little bit about the book and then, the other thing that Andy does, he writes for the Law Tribune, and covers government, public policy, politics and stuff like that, he's awash in some of these political races. We thought it would be interesting to have him give his take on Curry versus Rowland. In fact, let's do that first.

AT - I was actually thinking about that while I was listening to the show. And I would guess it's also the policy of the station that you and I are black men as well.

CM - Oh, absolutely.

AT - Well, I picture Bill Curry trying to be Muhammad Ali in the Thrilla In Manila -- And Rowland being Joe Fazier. So if I could just recap the theme of the contest, "I'm fighting Rowland, Gorilla. It'll be a trilla, a killa, a chilla, when I get the gorilla in Manila." And Rowland says, "When Curry hears the knock on the door, he'll forget all that crap he's been saying.
He'll remember that inside these four corners, there's not another man like me in the world. I want him like a hog wants slop."

CM - Well, it kind of has turned in to that kind of grudge match I think. We all kind of expected that watching these two guys. It is like that also in the sense that they fought once in 94. Everyone has been waiting for the rematch. Probably especially them.

AT - Well Curry is still not going forward as a good fighter should. He feels ambivalent, I think, about calling the governor on certain issues, for example, the governor said he was going to give out his income tax returns after the governor rattled Curry by saying what have you been doing for a living. And that hasn't happened yet. CM - Some people think that may have been a tactical error by Rowland in demanding that Curry produce all this kind of stuff and then or course Curry did produce it and there was nothing there. I mean, it was clean as a whistle. He's now sort of created a climate in which you have to produce stuff. In other words, he sets the bar kind of high for himself by making Curry comply at the level.

AT - Curry still also has to produce that form you produce when you become a public official about your investments or boards. Well, he doesn't have to, but I think he's agreed to.

CM - The other sense that I got, even listening to Rowland speaking outside the G. Fox Building the other day when he was asked about this is that he really kind of has already lost his temper. He seems, the angry John Rowland is out. And he's got to respond at a level of anger.

AT - It seems clear to me that he's rattled. He wouldn't be reaching out to Curry, it's not like Barbara Kennelly four years ago.

CM - Usually - this is something we've discussed here on this show - usually if you're the incumbent and you have any kind of lead at all, you don't talk a lot about the other guy. You don't make the other guy the issue, because why give him that kind of publicity.

AT - Yeah. So, you know, it's Curry's game now as the race narrows. I think he's got the governor off balance.

CM - What do you think he should do, do you think he should press on some of these other kinds of issues?

AT - He should keep on moving forward, tactically.

CM - And tactically means what, bringing up, asking for comparable levels of disclosure from Rowland or pressing other kinds of issues or pressing the, you know, corruption kinds of issues. What kinds of issues do you think are going to turn this race around one way or another?

AT - Well, I don't know if it's necessarily the issues, but it's how the candidates respond to the issues. Right now the governor's rockin' and reelin' with just some, not love taps, but some good jabs from Curry. And Curry has mixed feelings, he said, well, maybe I should have asked these questions in 94, but whatever the governor did as a lobbyist or whatever, that's his private life. And I was thinking, well, it's not really his private life.

CM - Have you ever actually run a political campaign, or been involved in a political campaign? I think it would be very interesting with some of your instincts for you to work on something like that.

AT - Well, the only campaign I've been involved in is I ended up having a glass of wine at an Italian restaurant in Litchfield and somehow I ended up being on the school board.

CM - Well, that counts for something.

AT - Yeah.

CM - You wake up the next morning, you're on the school board. Well, Litchfield is a different kind of place. Very quickly, we've got a few minutes left, let's quickly talk about the book, the book, once again, is called Law And Justice In Everyday Life. Give us a kind of sense of what you've got here.

AT - One case that bothered me is the woman in Middletown who tried to get help from the cops when her estranged husband was bothering her and they were kind of slow to respond. But before and after they'd go to check on her dog, apparently at the behest of her husband. There's another case in Colchester which I thought was quite horrific. Generally speaking, I'm a big fan of the state police, but there were Colchester constables under the direction of the resident trooper who allegedly would use drug dealers and thugs to beat up people they didn't like or just go out and harass people. There was one kids who was punched around a lot, even in front of his mother at McDonalds or the grocery store and about the eighth or 10 time they chase this kid home and he blew them away with a shotgun. I thought this was sort of like a battered person syndrome, but it was Mac Buckley's last case and obviously he wasn't up to snuff. So the kid's doing some hard time and it's been recommended that he get some lawyer to do a habeas.

CM - The book also does include stories told on behalf of honest police officers and police officers who do good. You have a chapter called On The Job, right?

AT - Yeah, and I've got one item that comes to mind, The Stand-Up Prosecutor, a guy named Sedensky who's been on the short list to be a state's attorney but hasn't made it yet. He saw some guy who was held on bail for a long time and he learned it was actually somebody else who committed the crime. So he brought it forward to the court and made sure the guy got turned loose.

CM -Well, it's a very interesting book, Andy Thibault is the author, he's also a columnist for The Law Tribune and I'm sure we'll be talking again in the future. Thanks a lot for being with us today, Andy.

AT - Thank you, Colin.

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