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In a rare display of displeasure, Waterbury Superior Court Judge Eliot Prescott circumvented the Statewide Grievance Committee and ordered a disciplinary investigation against a Seymour, Conn., lawyer who lied to Prescott about the lawyer’s consumption of alcohol. Attorney Ralph C. Crozier’s deceit has resulted in the six-month suspension of his license to practice law. Prescott, presiding over a criminal matter involving Crozier, generated his own complaint to the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel, requesting it to investigate Crozier for allegedly violating lawyer ethics rules during an evidentiary hearing in the case. Within Crozier’s criminal case, one of his conditions of bond was not to drink alcohol. Prescott’s complaint against Crozier was prompted by the lawyer allegedly lying to the judge about obeying that stipulation. Crozier, 53, of Southbury, Conn., was arrested March 21 and charged with third-degree assault, disorderly conduct and interfering with an emergency call, according to court documents. The charges stemmed from a March 18 domestic violence incident between Crozier and his live-in girlfriend. As part of his conditions of bond, he was ordered not to consume alcohol during the pretrial phase of his case. Prosecution of the matter was referred to Senior Assistant State’s Attorney John M. Massameno, out of the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, because Crozier, a criminal defense attorney, had regular contact with the Waterbury prosecutor’s office. During a July pretrial hearing on Crozier’s criminal charges, Prescott inquired if Crozier had consumed alcohol since the order was imposed two months before. Crozier said he had not, but his statements were quickly contradicted by Massameno. According to court documents, Massameno handled a previous case against Crozier involving charges of drunk driving and interfering with police. The charges were dropped because Crozier had benefited from a one-year pretrial alcohol education program. In the matter before Prescott, inspectors from Massameno’s office visited various restaurants and bars in the greater Waterbury area. At the July 6 hearing, Massameno claimed he had evidence Crozier had a gin and tonic the day before at Rolando’s Restaurant in Oxford, according to the documents. Crozier’s girlfriend later gave a statement alleging other occasions of alcohol consumption by Crozier, including one the same day the bond order was imposed, at Carlita’s in Woodbury. “For the state to obtain such a condition of release for the protection of the public and then to fail to enforce it in the face of information indicating that it was repeatedly and flagrantly violated would simply suggest that the state was not concerned with the welfare of the public at all,” Massameno wrote in an objection to a motion to dismiss the charges against Crozier. WEAK MOMENT While Prescott was determining whether false statements were made, Crozier wrote a letter to him on July 29 acknowledging his deceit. “I have come to the realization that [the criminal case] situation has escalated out of control,” Crozier wrote. “… [I]n a moment of weak, self-preservation, I find that I have made a material misstatement of fact when asked a question by the court. While I was not under oath and I was before the court as a defendant, I am nevertheless, foremost and always a member of the bar.” In his letter, Crozier said his bond condition “lapses” were “few and far between.” Crozier told Prescott he would refer himself to the grievance committee, but he never did, Chief Disciplinary Counsel Mark Dubois said. On Sept. 16, Waterbury Superior Court Judge Salvatore Agati ordered Crozier’s license be suspended for six months, beginning that day. Agati said Crozier had the right to reapply for admission in 60 days provided he can demonstrate compliance to various conditions. From the date of any readmission, Crozier would be under supervision of an attorney-mentor for one year, officials said. Crozier is being represented by William F. Dow III, of Jacobs, Grudberg, Belt, Dow & Katz in New Haven. “I consider this to be a fair disposition because it takes into consideration the conduct, and more importantly, recognizes the purpose of the Rules [of Professional Conduct] to protect the public,” Dow said. “This did not occur in the course of a lawyer representing a client. Ralph was speaking on his own behalf.” Waterbury attorney William St. John Jr. has been appointed as trustee for Crozier’s cases, according to the disciplinary file. Crozier’s criminal matter is still pending.

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