Connecticut, like most states, doesn’t have a good track record of holding police accountable for violence. Of 81 police violence cases investigated by Connecticut prosecutors in recent years, prosecutors have declined action in all but two. Recognizing this, the police accountability law passed by the legislature in 2020 created a new special, statewide prosecutor, called the Inspector General, tasked with investigating and prosecuting police misconduct as part of the effort to value Black lives.
For an Inspector General to be successful, they must have the political will not only to hold police accountable under current law, but to seek changes to eliminate the legal covers that have shielded police from accountability for years. The Inspector General must also have a fully staffed office and full budget to investigate and prosecute police misconduct. They must be independent from other prosecutors and police. And they must, at minimum, be committed to valuing Black and Brown lives by seeking to hold police accountable for hurting and killing people.
On September 27, Connecticut’s Criminal Justice Commission, which appoints the state’s prosecutors, will interview the four finalists seeking to become Connecticut’s first Inspector General. After that, the Criminal Justice Commission is expected to name the first Inspector General.
The ACLU of Connecticut sent a survey to all four finalists – Liam Brennan, Moira Buckley, Robert Devlin, and A. Ryan McGuigan – to learn more about whether they would, if appointed, use the Inspector General role to value Black and Brown lives by holding police accountable for violence and other misconduct. Below, you’ll find copies of all four finalists’ survey responses, as well as brief biographies written and provided by each of the finalists.
We aren’t endorsing or opposing any of the Inspector General finalists, but we do believe that whoever assumes this role must be ready to hold police accountable, without excuses or delay.
These are the key issues we asked about in our survey:
Basic job requirements: commitments to racial justice, public transparency, and police accountability
Questions 1-3, 11, and 14 deal with basic requirements of the Inspector General role. Because of systemic racism, police violence disproportionately hurts Black and Brown people. Every question about police accountability is therefore a racial justice question, and applicants’ responses to every question in this survey should therefore be viewed through that lens. In the first question, however, we explicitly asked applicants if they believe in systemic racism and the need for the Inspector General to work to end it.
When a police officer hurts or kills someone, they have also hurt an entire community. Because of systemic racism, those communities in Connecticut are most often Black and Brown. In recent years, families of people killed by police have waited for years – at times more than a decade – just for a prosecutor to announce whether they would press charges against the police officers who killed their loved ones. It is therefore important to know whether the Inspector General will view themselves as an accountable partner to communities and families hurt by police violence, or if they will only pursue the status quo and minimum legal requirement of filing publicly available reports after they have finished investigating a police violence case. In question 11, we ask whether applicants would hold timely public meetings in communities hurt by police violence after the Inspector General has concluded an investigation.
The Inspector General role is explicitly about prosecuting police misconduct. In questions two and three, we asked applicants if they believe police should be prosecuted when they hurt or kill people in ways that break the law, and in question 14 we asked whether they themselves would seek to prosecute police violence that breaks the law.
The definition of “justified” police use of force:
The Inspector General’s role is limited, because it’s ultimately a police accountability role within the criminal legal system itself – the Inspector General is a prosecutor who is tasked with seeking criminal legal liability in police misconduct cases, in the criminal legal system. So, we wanted to know: are the Inspector General finalists satisfied with the status quo, or do they recognize the law’s limitations and the need for improvement?
A “use of force standard” is the legal standard under which prosecutors must decide whether to press charges against police who hurt or kill people. The legal definition for when police violence is “justified” is much different than what most people would expect based on common sense, and it for years has shielded police from accountability. In 2020, Connecticut slightly improved its definition of “justified” use of force, but there are still very large loopholes in that definition, and legislators watered it down in 2021.
In questions 4 – 6, we asked Inspector General finalists about their knowledge of Connecticut’s current use of force standard, and whether that standard is clear enough to hold police accountable. The current use of force statute is not enough, so a “no” response is the accurate response to this question legally. In questions 7 – 10, we asked finalists if they would pursue policy changes to make that use of force standard a stronger tool for police accountability. The Inspector General should be an advocate for police accountability, and the other state’s attorney’s office frequently weighs in on policy proposals at the legislature. It is therefore not only appropriate but expected that the Inspector General would push for legislative changes to improve police accountability.
Willingness to seek systemic change:
Policing is a government system, and when police hurt or kill someone, it does not happen in a vacuum. No single act of police violence stands alone.
When investigating police violence cases, the Inspector General is likely to find problems that go beyond the police officer who hurt or killed someone. Indeed, prosecutors have already mentioned this before.
In question 12, we asked finalists if they will consider the effect of a police agency’s patterns and practices overall in their investigations. If, for instance, a police department has shown a clear pattern of racially profiling young Latinx drivers on the main road leading into town, it is important to know if the Inspector General will treat it as an isolated incident when a police officer kills a young Latinx driver on that road.
Questions 13, 15, and 16 seek to find out if finalists will prevent other parts of the criminal legal system – police departments, the Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POSTC), prosecutors, and courts – from giving a pass to police officers with proven histories of misconduct. Question 13 looks at whether applicants will recommend POSTC decertify police with proven histories of misconduct, to prevent them from working as police officers again. Question 15 looks at whether applicants will support the creation of a public statewide Brady List, to make sure other prosecutors aren’t relying on the testimony of police with proven histories of lying or other criminal misconduct. Question 16 asks whether applicants will support standard policies to prevent prosecutors from treating people wildly differently from zip code to zip code. These policies could, for instance, include a requirement for prosecutors to start following a rule already in place, which says they are supposed to review police’s charging decisions before those charges make it onto a court docket, in order to act as a check to police power.
Police accountability isn’t enough.
If Connecticut is going to truly prevent more death and violence at the hands of police, value Black and Brown lives, and create thriving and safe communities, we must reduce the role, responsibilities, and size of policing. The Inspector General’s role is part of accountability, but justice will only come when no one is hurt or killed by police.
The ACLU of Connecticut will testify during the public comment period of the Criminal Justice Commission meeting on September 27. We’re ready to recommend that the Commission nominate someone who will value Black lives by approaching the Inspector General’s job with the urgency and independence it requires to hold police accountable.
Biographies of Finalists, As Provided by Them:
Moira Buckley has been practicing law since 1997. She has spent her career defending people charged with criminal offenses in state and federal courts at both the trial and appellate levels. She served for nearly four years as an Assistant Public Defender in the Legal Services Unit of the Connecticut Public Defender's Office where she specialized in appellate defense, representing clients convicted of serious felony offenses. Attorney Buckley is a former partner at Shipman & Goodwin, LLP, where she practiced in their Criminal Defense and Government Investigations Practice Group, and former sole member in The Law Office of Moira Buckley. In both firms she represented clients charged with a wide variety of offenses ranging from misdemeanors to capital felony murder. Attorney Buckley is a past-president of the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association and the former Chair and Vice Chair of the Connecticut Bar Association's Criminal Justice Section. She is a member of the Federal Grievance Panel and a member of the 2020 Merit Selection Panel for United States Magistrate Judge, District of Connecticut. She is a former board member of Families in Crisis, and a former Nutmeg Big Brothers, Big Sisters mentor.
Attorney Buckley is a 1997 graduate of Quinnipiac University School of Law and a 1992 graduate of St. Anselm College.
Judge Robert J. Devlin, Jr. is a Judge Trial Referee having retired from his position on the Connecticut Appellate Court in April 2020. Prior to his service on the Appellate Court, Judge Devlin served as a Superior Court Judge for twenty-six years. Judge Devlin currently serves a chair of the Connecticut Sentencing Commission. He has also held positions as an Assistant United States Attorney, Assistant State's Attorney and Deputy Assistant Public Defender. Judge Devlin is an honors graduate of the University of Connecticut School of law.
A. Ryan McGuigan is the President of Rome McGuigan P.C., a litigation law firm located in Hartford, CT. Ryan is the Head of the Firm’s Investigation Department and has held that role for the past 15 years. Ryan started as an Investigator at the age of 19; working as a Private Detective for the firm of Walnut Hill Associates. Ryan worked as a State prosecutor from 1998-2002 before joining Rome McGuigan. Since that time, Ryan has prosecuted cases of misappropriation and theft of trade secrets as well as internal fraud cases for major Fortune 500 corporations across the Globe. Ryan’s success with investigations stems from his ability to assemble teams of qualified, objective, and professional investigators to assist in evidence collection. He has an impressive trial record in Federal, State and Military Courts; having won numerous acquittals on behalf of innocent clients accused of major felonies. Ryan has investigated and pursued cases of Police brutality and false arrest and secured large settlements on behalf of injured clients. Ryan is a member of the International Arson Investigators Association; and has investigated and prosecuted arson cases in the US, Argentina and China. He is a member of the CT Bar Association, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. Ryan is also the President of Connecticut Family Intervention, which for the past 15 years has provided Substance Use Disorder intervention to individuals and families. He has personally escorted dozens of suffering individuals to rehabilitation facilities across the US. Ryan lives in Lakeville, CT with his 5 children and his wife, Claudia who is the recipient of the Walter Crane Fellowship at The Hotchkiss School, a program affiliated with the Teacher’s College at Columbia University designed to empower educators of color to pursue senior leadership roles at Independent Schools.