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With the number of Connecticut lawyers activated for military duty rapidly rising, many legal professionals in the state are turning to their peers for professional support. “It can be very disruptive professionally,” said Col. Brien Horan, commander of a local Judge Advocate General (JAG) unit and counsel with Hartford, Conn.-based Robinson & Cole. “Maybe less so for people employed as civilian government lawyers, but it can be disruptive on the private side.” Horan said, for example, that in the past two months alone, some 23 lawyers around New England have been called up for active duty as part of the 3rd Legal Service Organization — the East Coast’s Army JAG unit. “We’ve got some pretty skilled lawyers in that unit.” At least one Connecticut lawyer from the 3rd LSO, whom Horan declined to name for security reasons, has been shipped to Afghanistan to work in the unit’s Special Forces division. Horan added that the unit’s reservists are given anywhere from 24 hours to 30 days notice that they are to report for active duty. At the end of January, about 80,000 reserve troops across the country had been placed on active duty to support the United States in the ongoing conflict in the Middle East. Based out of Fort Drum in New York, the 3rd LSO serves as the main training hub for Connecticut lawyers and paralegals who double as Army reservists, Horan said. Legal professionals there can work in four main areas, including legal assistance with wills and power of attorney matters; in administrative law to monitor Army regulations; criminal law and the court martial system; and international law, dealing with law of war issues, such as refugees, enemy combatants and operations. “There are a fair amount of people being called up across the [U.S.],” Horan said. “But in a smaller state like Connecticut you sense it more.” According to Steven Sellers, deputy chief state’s attorney for personnel, finance and administration, the state has lost two of its experienced prosecutors due to the recent Army reserve activation. “I have no idea where they are,” Sellers said of Richard Palombo Jr., head of the Gang and Continuing Criminal Activities Bureau, and Michael O’Hare, an assistant state’s attorney in the Division of Criminal Justice’s Appellate Bureau. “They’ll be gone at least a year.” In the Division of Public Defender Services, one attorney — Arlindo Almeida — has been called to active duty. The absence of prosecutors Palombo and O’Hare have put more stress on a division that recently lost a significant amount of staff to recent budget cuts. “We’ll do the best that we can,” Sellers added. Bristol attorney Kevin Creed, of Newman, Creed & Associates, who recently sent to The Connecticut Law Tribune a photograph of himself standing by a bunker in Kuwait, praised his law partner Bruce Newman for providing support to him and his family during his absence. Newman, meanwhile, acknowledged that Creed’s absence had put more stress on the small firm in that he has had to contract out attorneys to maintain business. “I’ve been running around, there is no question about it,” Newman said. “You definitely feel it. It’s been a crazy year. [But] most judges and opposing counsel have been cooperative and generally courteous.” Creed, a helicopter pilot for the Army, left in September to return to active duty for a year as a major with the 3rd Army Headquarters Coalition Forces Land Component Command at Camp Doha in Kuwait. Connecticut National Guard Maj. John Whitford said although none of his unit’s JAG lawyers had been mobilized as of press time, they were being kept busy giving legal briefings and preparing will and estate matters for those who have. Robinson & Cole lawyer Edward O’Hanlan, who currently serves in the U.S. Naval Reserves as a JAG lawyer, said generally firms are supportive of staff who also serve in the military. “Nobody wants to leave their families or go to war. When you get called up, you’re gone … it is an interruption,” O’Hanlan said. “But you don’t take a position in the reserves [blindly]. People are being called up all around us.”

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