April 5, 2011
QUESTIONS FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMISSION CHAIRMAN NOMINEE
By: Christopher Reinhart, Chief Attorney
You asked for questions for the nominee for Criminal Justice Commission chairman.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE COMMISSION (CGS §§ 51-275A AND -278)
● Consists of the chief state's attorney and six other members, including two judges.
● Appoints the chief state's attorney, who is the head of the Division of Criminal Justice, every five years.
● Appoints two deputy chief state's attorneys (one for operations and one for personnel, finance, and administration).
● Appoints, for each judicial district, a state's attorney, assistant state's attorneys, and deputy assistant state's attorneys.
● May remove the chief state's attorney from office for misconduct, material neglect of duty, or incompetence.
● May reprimand, demote, suspend, or remove from office state's attorneys, assistant state's attorneys, and deputy assistant state's attorneys for just cause.
GENERAL QUESTIONS FOR CHAIRMAN
1. What role do you think the chairman should play on the commission?
2. As chairman, what do you think the commission should focus on? What should its policy concerns be?
3. What do you think is the most pressing criminal issue in Connecticut today? How is the Division of Criminal Justice dealing with it? What else needs to be done? What special role can you as the chairman play?
RACIAL DISPARITY ISSUES
1. Do you think a disproportionate number of minorities are prosecuted for crimes? Are sentences for minorities comparable to sentences for non-minorities? Is this a concern? As chairman, what steps are you prepared to take to focus the commission on these issues?
2. There appears to be a low number of minority candidates who interview with the commission for positions as prosecutors and few minority candidates are hired. Why do you think this is? What do you think the commission could do to change this? Does the chairman have a special responsibility concerning this issue?
HIRING AND DISCIPLINING PROSECUTORS
1. Do you believe the chairman has any special responsibilities concerning the hiring and disciplining of prosecutors?
2. When hiring a person to become a prosecutor, what attributes would you look for and what type of evidence would you need to see?
3. When deciding whether to reappoint a prosecutor, what factors would you look at and what kind of proof or evidence would you need to assure you that the candidate should be reappointed?
4. The chief state's attorney is a member of the commission. What role does the chief state's attorney play in determining whether he should be reappointed? How should the commission judge the chief state's attorney's performance?
5. Does the commission have any oversight over prosecutors? For example, are you provided copies of performance evaluations? Under what circumstances should a prosecutor be removed or disciplined?
6. How would you handle a complaint alleging that a prosecutor had a substance abuse problem?
7. Should a prosecutor's private non-criminal conduct or lifestyle ever be the basis for removal from office?
8. Due to natural relationships that are likely to develop over the years between prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys and between prosecutors and judges, what are your views on term limits for prosecutors?
OTHER CRIMINAL JUSTICE ISSUES
1. When do you think alternatives to incarceration are appropriate? Should they be used more often? Should there be more sentencing options?
2. The legislature has focused on domestic violence in recent years. Do you think prosecutors handle these cases properly? Do laws need to be changed?
3. Should prosecutors receive more training? If so, are there particular areas of the law that training should cover, such as domestic violence?
4. How is the state's budget situation affecting prosecutors?
5. In recent years, legislation has been introduced to require taping custodial interrogations. Do you think this is a good idea?
6. With the rise of DNA-testing, there have been some well-publicized accounts of people being wrongfully incarcerated. Should Connecticut implement any additional safeguards against this possibility? What could be done?
7. Should prosecutors have complete discretion with respect to plea bargains or should there be guidelines?