The lawyer for one of the four officers for alleged civil rights violations against Latino residents has argued the charges "look flimsy, like a trumped up set of allegations," and has asked for the case against his client to be dismissed.
And a second Connecticut lawyer, who is unaffiliated with the East Haven case, has also publicly criticized how federal officials have handled the affair, arguing that prosecutors engaged in "inflammatory rhetoric and gratuitous aspersions on the accused" in relation to their announcement of the indictments.
Motion to Dismiss
Norm Pattis, the criminal defense attorney for East Haven Officer Jason Zullo, has asked to have the case against his client dismissed in part because of the “Barnum-like pre-trial publicity" by federal officials, according to a variety of press reports.
Pattis filed the written motion to dismiss the case with the court yesterday.
In that motion, the Connecticut-based trial lawyer reportedly wrote that "far from behaving like sober ministers of justice, the prosecution has engaged in the cheap theater of press conferences and name-calling in an effort to forever associate the name 'East Haven' with dark and sinister connotions."
Pattis continued, criticizing federal officials for holding that announced the unsealing of the against the four officers — and the tone and tenor of comments made by federal officials during the media briefing.
"The Justice Department opted to supplement this unsealing with a press boondoggle to highlight it's national campaign against racial profiling," Pattis wrote.
Pattis' remarks in the dismissal echos those he made in a post about the East Haven case on his blog Monday.
In "Crossing the Line," Pattis argues that the federal indictment against Zullo and the other officers "looks flimsy," like a "trumped up set of allegations that could not withstand the light of day in civil court."
"The case reeks of identity politics: Four white male cops being prosecuted by a couple of female prosecutors for allegedly violating the civil rights of Hispanic folks; the prosecution pushed by a Justice Department some suspect of having abandoned race neutrality in the enforcement of the law; a bevy of Yale Law students cheering them on with the glee of zealots unschooled in the reality of the streets," Pattis wrote.
He added that he fully expects Zullo to eventually walk out of the "courthouse a free man."
"My client is being used to serve an agenda unrelated to the merits of the case pressed against him," he wrote. "My job is simple: I will protect him."
'Gratuitous Aspersions on the Accused'
And Pattis is not the only Connecticut lawyer who has been publicly critical of the U.S. Department of Justice's handling of the case against the East Haven police officers.
In a recent opinion piece published in the Connecticut Law Tribune, Karen Lee Torre argues that the timing of the release of the Justice Department's civil investigation findings that East Haven Police had mistreated Latino residents and engaged in racial profiling was "deliberately" and "unconscionably timed to coincide with the criminal indictment."
The New Haven-based attorney continues, writing that the announcement of the indictments last month was also "made most public way," and filled with "inflammatory rhetoric and gratuitous aspersions on the accused," which federal officials knew "would be TV broadcast, newspaper headlined, and Internet viral."
"Among the improper commentary: statements denouncing the accused officers as a 'cancerous cadre' and 'bullies with badges," the Connecticut lawyer wrote,
Torre added that the U.S. Attorney’s office usually announces indictments by paper press releases only, which usually steer clear of "any statements that amount to personal attacks, undermine the legal presumption of innocence, or work to poison the jury pool."
'Rhetoric by Federal Offiicals'
The lawyer also asks readers to consider whether "you would ever hear such rhetoric by federal officials" at a press conference held to announce the arrests on criminal charges and the holding for deportation of 12 Ecuadorians or Mexicans illegally in the U.S.
"Imagine one of them taking to a public podium to denounce those arrested as a 'cancerous cadre' and 'low-lives with stolen Social Security numbers.' I could just see the headlined condemnations in the press, and hear the hysterical screams in the hallways of Yale Law School," Torre wrote, referring to the brought against East Haven Police last year.