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Jon Lender: Issues remain 2 weeks after controversy over Hartford State’s Attorney Hardy; a prosecutor is reprimanded after ‘liar’ remark

Hartford Courant logo Hartford Courant 7/11/2020 By Jon Lender, Hartford Courant
a man standing in front of a television: Gail P. Hardy, Hartford State's Attorney © Michael McAndrews / Hartford Courant/Hartford Courant/TNS Gail P. Hardy, Hartford State's Attorney

It’s been nearly two weeks since Hartford State’s Attorney Gail Hardy withdrew June 29 from seeking reappointment in the face of opposition and it was announced that she’ll be given “a new role in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney to foster diversity in the Division of Criminal Justice.”

But Chief State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo still has yet to fill in a number of blanks about what Hardy’s duties will be in the newly created job of executive assistant state’s attorney for diversity and inclusion, and there are still reverberations inside the state criminal justice system from the controversy that attended her withdrawal.

Here are a few examples:

So far no detailed plan has been made public for how Hardy will foster diversity and inclusion. When asked for a formal job description, Colangelo’s office produced an existing, general description of “Executive Assistant State’s Attorney” positions issued by the Department of Administrative Services, which lists various legal duties and other responsibilities but doesn’t mention diversity. The DAS document does set a pay range of $111,515 to $151,731, which at least clarifies that Hardy, who now makes about $163,000, will be taking a pay cut. Whether she’ll be at the top of the range, at $151,731, hasn’t been settled yet, though.

All Colangelo’s office would say Friday about Hardy’s specific duties was: “The duties will be discussed with State’s Attorney Hardy” — as phrased in an email from Alaine Griffin, Colangelo’s director of communications. So it was still unclear if there will ever be a formal, written description of the new diversity and inclusion job duties. Hardy’s starting date in the new role won’t be determined until a successor is chosen to replace her at the top of the Hartford prosecutor’s office. Griffin said neither Colangelo nor Hardy would be available to talk to The Courant on Friday.

And, as to reverberations from the controversy: A written reprimand has been handed to Mark Brodsky, a senior assistant state’s attorney in Hartford, after he was heard to remark — “Oh, come on ... liar” — during the June 26 portion of Hardy’s reappointment hearing before the state Criminal Justice Commission. Brodsky also was told he had to forfeit two vacations days. The comment came after Hardy was asked how many cases she has tried herself in court, and she estimated she’s personally handled a maximum of three trials a year. The hearing — which was continued to June 29, the day Hardy withdrew — was conducted via the Zoom communications app.

Sources told Government Watch about the discipline, and Griffin confirmed that Brodsky had been reprimanded and lost two vacation days. But when asked who imposed the discipline, and whether it was specifically connected to the remark, she said she couldn’t comment further. The Courant asked for the letter of reprimand, and Griffin said the office would release it, but couldn’t do so until after the weekend.

Brodsky could not be reached Friday.

Hardy came under heavy criticism last month, when she came up for reappointment, over her failure to adequately handle cases involving police violence. “If we allow this body of work to be approved that is the most egregious in the state, it would be OK for others to do the same. We cannot afford that,” said Scot X. Esdaile, president of the Connecticut chapter of the NAACP.

She had defenders in the community, but several people who spoke had lost loved ones to shootings, including two police shootings Hardy investigated, and believed that Hardy failed them and their families.

The Courant reported last year that Hardy left open four deadly police shooting investigations dating as far back as 11 years. The Criminal Justice Commission, in an unprecedented move, suspended Hardy last month for four days.

Hardy said not completing the reports from 2008 to 2011 was a failure, and apologized before the commission June 26, saying: “With respect to four use of deadly force reports, I let down victims who had lost family members at the hands of police. In those same, cases I let down police officers who awaited written outcomes of their fate.”

Jon Lender is a reporter on The Courant’s investigative desk, with a focus on government and politics. Contact him at jlender@courant.com, 860-241-6524, or c/o The Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115 and find him on Twitter@jonlender.

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©2020 The Hartford Courant (Hartford, Conn.)

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