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Connecticut, Orange, Williams & Pattis

Connecticut, Orange, Williams & Pattis

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John Williams is best known as a pioneer in the field of police misconduct litigation. Since 1971, he and his firm have filed most of the police misconduct suits litigated in the federal court in Connecticut. The firm continues today as Williams and Pattis, LLC. The firm has argued many of the Section 1983 appeals decided by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in the years since then, and his name and the names of his associates appear on many of the important Second Circuit decisions in this field. He writes and lectures extensively in the area. His notable Section 1983 cases include Liscio v. Warren, 901 F.2d 274 (2d Cir. 1990) (medical treatment of prisoners); Cartier v. Lussier, 955 F.2d 841 (2d Cir. 1992) (misrepresentations in arrest warrant applications); Mozzochi v. Borden, 959 F.2d 1174 (2d Cir. 1992) (release-dismissal agreements); Dobosz v. Walsh, 892 F.2d 1135 (2d Cir. 1989) (police whistleblowers); Musso v. Hourigan, 836 F.2d 736 (2d Cir. 1988) (free speech at public meetings); Reed v. Town of Branford, 949 F. Supp. 87 (D. Conn. 1996) (age discrimination as a 1983 violation and harassment as a substantive due process violation); In re Alexander V., 223 Conn. 557 (1992) (familial relationships as a fundamental constitutional right); Warren v. Dwyer, 906 F.2d 70 (2d Cir. 1990) (submission of qualified immunity question to jury); Gagnon v. Ball, 696 F.2d 17 (2d Cir. 1982) police bystander liability); Pitchell v. Callan; 13 F.3d 545 (2d Cir. 1994) (color of law); Miller v. Lovett, 879 F.2d 1066 (2d Cir. 1989) (pendent jurisdiction); Dodd v. City of Norwhich, 827 F.2d 1 (2d Cir. 1987) (municipal liability); Pouncey v. Ryan, 396 F. Supp. 126 (D. Conn. 1975) (Newman, J.) (collateral estoppel effect of prior conviction); O'Neill v. Krzeminski, 839 F.2d 9 (2d Cir 1988) (standard for punitive damages); and Ruggiero v. Krzeminski, 928 F.2d 558 (2d Cir. 1991) (opportunity cost as a factor in attorney fee awards). He also is an active criminal practitioner. His celebrated cases include the Lorne Acquin mass murder case in Prospect, Connecticut, in 1977 which remains the largest mass murder case ever prosecuted in the State of Connecticut. He represented members of the Black Panther Party in the so-called "New Haven Nine" prosecutions between 1969 and 1971, members of the Black Liberation Army, Los Macheteros, and other controversial cases. He has argued countless appeals in the Connecticut Supreme Court in both criminal law and other areas of the law. Throughout the entire decade of the 1970s and into the 1980s, in a series of state and federal court cases, he fought many court battles to change the method by which Connecticut juries were selected, a complex legacy of the colonial era which produced juries that were disproportionately white, male, middle-aged and suburban. Finally, in 1986, in the companion cases of Alston v. Mansonand Haskins v. Manson, 791 F.2d 255 (2d Cir. 1986), he persuaded the United States Court of Appeals to strike down the Connecticut system. In the cases of State v. Anthony, 172 Conn. 172 (1976); and State v. Roberson, 173 Conn. 102 (1977); he persuaded the Connecticut Supreme Court to prohibit trial court judges from limiting the time lawyers could question prospective jurors during the jury selection process, thereby reducing the danger of biased jurors infecting trials with racial and other prejudices. He has worked extensively, and sometimes successfully, in cases involving the "false confession syndrome," in which innocent people have confessed to crimes they did not commit. E.g., Miller v. Angliker, 848 F.2d 1312 (2d Cir.), cert. denied, 488 U.S. 890 (1988); State v. La Pointe, 237 Conn. (1996). In the civil arena, his cases have significantly expanded the rights of plaintiffs in such fields as the intentional infliction of emotional distress and vexatious litigation [DeLaurentis v. City of New Haven, 220 Conn. 225 (1991)]; the rights of divorced persons to sue their former spouses for marital torts [Delahunty v. Massachusetts Mutual Life Ins. Co., et al., 236 Conn. 582 (1996)]; the right of parents to sue public school systems for educational inadequacies [Bell v. Board of Education, 55 Conn. App. 200 (1999)]; and the appellate rights of parties in workers compensation cases [Cantoni v. Xerox Corp., 251 Conn. 153 (1999)]. Norman A. Pattis became a partner in the firm in 1997, after careers in college teaching and journalism. He specializes in criminal defense and civil rights. Two notable recent cases in the area of civil rights are Kevin King v. Mark Verdone, et al., in which he obtained a judgement of more than $2 million for a prisoner beaten during an escape attempt, and Nussle v. Willette, a case involving application of the Prison Litigation Reform Act currently set for argument before the United States Supreme Court in 2000.

51 Elm Street, Ste 409, New Haven, CT 06510-2049

Fax: (203) 776-9494

Telephone: (203) 562-9931

Connecticut, Orange


Criminal Defense, Federal Civil Rights, Employment Law, Legal Malpractice

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