It’s The Start Of Something Big

Call it a soft opening. But this week’s edition of the Law Tribune will debut the first of a number of changes that will be unveiled in the next few months.

Check that. We actually made one of the changes earlier this year, when we expanded our popular Verdicts & Settlements section to two pages and, on occasion, added some national civil litigation news to the stew. Hopefully, this will entice more lawyers and law firms to contact us (see e-mail below) with their completed civil case results.

This week, we kick-off a legal technology page that, for now, will appear on page 5. That page will largely draw on articles produced by the Law Technology News magazine and web site operated by our parent company, ALM. It goes without saying how much technology issues have affected everyone’s lives, including members of the legal profession. The page will include everything from gadget and software reviews to electronic discovery trends to cases that explore the boundaries of the new electronic frontier.

Speaking of technology, we are putting the final touches on a new web site, which we hope to have up and running in June. We’ll let you know much more about that in coming weeks.

As always, we value your feedback on things we have changed, or things we should change. Feel free to contact Editor-In-Chief Paul Sussman at psussman@alm.com.

Report Say Tribal Officers Are Bad Bet

There seems to be trouble on the Mashantucket Pequot reservation that seems to go beyond gamblers losing their shirts at the slot machines.

An Associated Press investigation has raised questions about the Mashantucket’s tribal police force and, indirectly, the tribal court system. The issue has statewide import, because the tribe wants to replace the state troopers who currently man the casino with its own officers.

On the surface, it’s a win-win deal, as the Pequots would no longer have to reimburse the state for casino security, and the state could reassign troopers to perform more pressing tasks.

But the AP reports that the tribal force currently has just nine members. Further, according to interviews with former officers, the department takes orders directly from tribal council members, blocks officers from pursuing investigations and has turned a blind eye to the sale of illegal drugs.

“The chief doesn’t want tribal members to be investigated, to be prosecuted in any way, because then it comes back on him,” said Steve Saucier, who worked part time for the department until leaving in November.

“If we do arrest somebody and it goes to tribal court, they throw it out. It does absolutely nothing.”

Late last week came word that the chief, a former Marine named Daniel Collins, had resigned. Before that, the tribal council has offered its police force a vote of confidence and has threatened to sue the state if it doesn’t allow tribal officers to take charge of the casino. Michael Lawlor, the governor’s liaison on criminal justice policy, said state attorneys are working out how to determine whether and when the tribe is ready.

PLUS

Augustus R. Southworth III

Carmody & Torrance attorney will receive President’s Award for Excellence from the Connecticut Defense Lawyers Association.  Southworth has been practicing law for more than 35 years and has successfully defended numerous high-profile cases in the areas of commercial, insurance, medical malpractice and personal injury defense litigation. He has also acted as a mentor and advisor to many young lawyers through the years.

PLUS

Brian Del Gatto

Regional managing partner of Wilson Elser’s Connecticut office has received the Transportation Lawyers Association Distinguished Service Award. Del Gatto, chair of his firm’s Transportation, Cargo and Logistics practice, has been active in the national association for more than a decade, serving on the Executive Committee, chairing a Casualty Litigation Committee, co-chairing an annual meeting and moderating panels at national and regional meetings.

MINUS

Gary Anusavice

Former dentist was banned from government health care programs after a 1997 conviction in Massachusetts for filing false claims. But the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office said he set up and helped managed dental practices in Stamford, Trumbull and elsewhere in the state that were staffed by other dentists. Those offices unlawfully collected $20 million in Medicaid payments, authorities said, and Anusavice was arrested last week.

VERBATIM

“Our intention is to get this in front of the Supreme Court as soon as possible.”

— Michael Courtney, of the state Public Defender’s Office capital defense unit, who last week launched a challenge to the new state law that bans capital punishment, but only for those committing future crimes. Courtney wants to use the case of triple murderer Richard Roszkowski to challenge the sentences of the state’s 11 death row inmates.  Roszkowski was sentenced to death in 2009 but has been granted a new penalty phase hearing because of a jury instruction error.