As former Bridgeport Mayor Joseph Ganim seeks to win back his law license, a decision by the state Supreme Court could turn on whether he’s shown remorse for the corruption that led to his conviction and imprisonment.
His lawyer, Harold Rosnick, told the justices Tuesday his client has shown remorse and deserves to get back his law license.
“Every major religion believes in redemption and rehabilitation,” Rosnick said. “He paid a severe price. He accepted the consequences.”
But Patricia King, chief disciplinary counsel at the state’s judicial branch, told the court that Ganim has failed to show remorse and should not have his law license returned.
“He committed a four-year crime spree while mayor of Bridgeport,” she said.
Ganim was sentenced in 2003 to nine years in prison for steering city contracts in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in expensive wine, custom clothes, cash and home improvements. His sentence was reduced by a year for participating in a drug treatment program.
He was convicted on 16 corruption charges, including extortion, bribery and racketeering.
Ganim often was credited with reviving Connecticut’s largest city and was considered a contender among Democrats for governor. Since his release from prison in 2010, he has worked as a legal assistant at his family’s Bridgeport law firm and has run a consulting business for others facing federal prison.
A three-judge panel last year rejected Ganim’s request for his license, saying he failed to show remorse.
“Allowing an applicant to be readmitted to the practice of law following a conviction on 16 counts of racketeering, conspiracy, extortion, mail fraud, bribery and filing false income tax returns without any apology … simply would set the bar for readmission too low in the state, and we are unwilling to do that,” the panel wrote.
In keeping with practice, the Supreme Court did not say when it will issue a decision.
King said Ganim should have “in some way acknowledged or explained his criminal conduct.”
But Rosnick said the ex-mayor has insisted he is not guilty of any crime, prompting Justice Carmen Espinosa to question King about the extent to which Ganim can be punished, even after he has served a prison term.
“If he maintains his innocence, does this forever bar him from practicing law?” she asked King.
King replied that Ganim must give “some explanation” for his actions.
Justice Richard Palmer asked Rosnick if Ganim can be remorseful without admitting his guilt.
“What is he remorseful for if he believes he’s innocent?” he asked.
“He understands and recognizes the consequences of his actions,” Rosnick replied. “He is taking responsibility.”