U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly (Courtesy photo)
Among the myriad appointments awaiting Donald Trump when he becomes president next month will be Deirdre Daly’s job: U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut.
Daly held the post in an interim capacity beginning in May 2013 and then on a permanent basis beginning in May 2014. While Trump, a Republican, does not have to replace Daly, a Democrat, it’s almost guaranteed—legal experts agree—that he’ll do so sometime in 2017.
Daly, who declined an interview request, has been known as a fierce partner with police chiefs throughout the state in providing resources to fight crime and drugs and has led the way in successfully trying fraud cases, say lawyers familiar with her work. Under her watch, federal prosecutors secured the conviction of three-term former Republican Gov. John Rowland, who was sentenced in 2015 to 30 months in prison for seven election law violations.
Two former U.S. attorneys in Connecticut—one Republican and one Democrat—spoke to the Connecticut Law Tribune about Daly’s 3-and-a-half years in the office, her contributions and her legacy.
Stanley Twardy Jr., who served as Connecticut’s U.S. attorney from 1985 to 1991, said Daly built a reputation as a “firm but compassionate” prosecutor.
“I think her legacy is bringing financial fraud cases and also working with local and state police on gangs and drugs and violence in the cities,” Twardy said. “She has spent a lot of time on the issue and police leaders around the state are very appreciative in her being able to bring them federal resources.”
Twardy, a Republican who is currently a managing partner with the Hartford law firm of Day Pitney, added, “And, from what I hear, the morale of the office is very upbeat and that is also something she will be remembered for.”
Stephen Robinson, U.S. attorney from 1998 to 2001, said he first met Daly in the 1980s when they both worked as line prosecutors. After his appointment, Robinson, a Democrat, tried to recruit Daly back to the office—but she turned him down.
“She had just opened her practice and felt she could not leave. I was thrilled so many years later to see her become U.S. attorney,” said Robinson, a former judge and currently a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
“One of the things she will go down as having accomplished relates to her work prosecuting corruption and that task force for the second round of prosecution of former Gov. Rowland,” Robinson said, noting that the case began during his tenure. “The public corruption work was very important work and it’s important that the public can count on public officials to use resources honestly and Deirdre had followed up on that.”
Echoing Twardy, Robinson said, “I understand she was able to develop an incredibly close relationship with police chiefs across the state. They really liked her.”
New Britain Police Chief James Wardwell said Wednesday he’s had a cordial and professional relationship with Daly and her office.
“It’s always been very positive,” he said. “We’ve seen many very successful prosecutions come out of that office. Her office has provided support and terrific feedback on cases brought forth for prosecution.”
Twardy and Robinson agreed it’s difficult to predict what the office will look like after Daly departs. “I have every confidence that her successor will be qualified,” Twardy said.
Daly began her career as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, where she prosecuted a wide range of cases from racketeering and murder to corruption and fraud, and later supervised the White Plains, New York, office for three years. After leaving the U.S. Department of Justice, Daly was a partner at the Connecticut law firm of Daly & Pavlis, where she focused on corporate and commercial litigation and white-collar criminal investigations.