To The Editor:
There is little dispute that attorney Norm Pattis is an intelligent, skilled and talented criminal defense lawyer. But some of his recent "columns" in the Law Tribune should more appropriately be categorized as "chronicles" rather than "columns" of interest to the newspaper’s audience.
After reading Pattis’ recent columns bantering with Department of Correction Commissioner Leo Arnone (Law Tribune, April 16 and May 7, 2012) and his unfounded impugning of Commissioner Arnone’s character and integrity, I feel compelled to voice my two cents.
I know Norm Pattis’ "target" rather well. I have had regular contact with Commissioner Arnone in my longtime capacity as the chairman of the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyer’s Association’s Liason Committee with DOC. (However, I write this in my personal capacity and in no way should it be construed as the opinion or endorsement by the CCDLA, with whom I did not consult).
Attorney Pattis has crossed the line of being a "columnist" to someone who has chosen to vent his personal vendettas without impunity via the Law Tribune. His shallow criticism of Commissioner Arnone is not only unsubstantiated but uncalled for, disrespectful and ignorant! What does Attorney Pattis know about Commissioner Arnone and his credentials? Obviously nothing! Commissioner Arnone has served for 21 years with the Department of Correction and has moved up the ranks since first being a correction officer in 1974. He has served in almost every rank at the DOC, including warden and a regional director of the agency’s Northern Region, where he oversaw six correctional facilities.
In 1995, he was hired by the state Judicial Branch to head the rebuilding of the state Juvenile Detention Center and was named a deputy director of operations for the Court Support Services Division in 1999. To boot, in 2007, Commissioner Arnone was hired by the Department of Children and Families as the bureau chief of the Juvenile Service Bureau. This is very well-rounded experience to serve in the position that he presently does. He knows the Department of Correction as well as anyone and clearly, in my opinion, better than most or any of his predecessors. I have known many of Commissioner Arnone’s predecessors. I, too, was once a commissioner (Banking, 1980-1985) and criticism comes cheap! Some of his predecessors I have respected, some I haven’t. However, Commissioner Arnone’s credentials to head the DOC are beyond reproach, contrary to some of the inferences rendered by attorney Pattis.
When Commissioner Arnone was appointed by Governor Dan Malloy, I reached out to him in order to assist my colleagues in the criminal defense bar in dealing with their clients and DOC. His reaction was not only swift, professional and gentlemanly, but he put the relationship between DOC and the defense bar on the front burner. The CCDLA held a very well-attended, one-day seminar for its members on DOC matters and the commissioner mandated all of his senior staff, including a deputy and every warden of every facility, to attend. Unprecedented! Why? Because he wanted them to hear first hand where we were coming from and generate a better understanding and open communications between all parties. His openness, understanding and willingness to work with, rather than against us, are demonstrative of his style and character.
I’m sorry, Norm, that you had a bad experience at one of your recent visits to York Correctional Institution. Your frustration is understandable. But on the other hand you weren’t attempting to gain entry into a "recreational" facility! It’s a penitentiary! Next time, just pick up the phone and I assure you I’ll make sure the powers-to-be hear of your gripes. But knowing Commissioner Arnone as I do, he would have been glad to hear from you directly too. Not via the indiscreet method that you chose.
Attorney Brian J. Woolf