Court Jester changes courthouses

Longtime New London prosecutor Pete McShane didn’t even have time to play a final joke on his colleagues before he left last week to become the lead state’s attorney for the Middlesex judicial district.

The “court jester” who once painted the receiver of a judicial marshal’s phone with red lipstick and who never hesitated to poke fun at anyone, including his superiors, has left the region for a promotion that comes with an office overlooking the Connecticut River.

“I still can’t believe it,” he said in a phone interview Monday.

McShane interviewed with the state Criminal Justice Commission on Wednesday morning, was appointed Wednesday afternoon and reported to work at the Middletown courthouse Thursday morning. Judge Susan B. Handy, another New London fixture who now works out of the Middletown courthouse, swore in McShane Friday morning.

The practical joker, who wore colorful striped socks beneath his dress pants and showed them off upon request, also is an accomplished prosecutor who handled major crimes for years and more recently ran the busy GA 10 courthouse on Broad Street. He organized a book drive for prisoners, worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving to initiate a program for young people accused of distracted driving and coached high school and college students for mock trial events.

He’ll be missed.

His former boss, New London State’s Attorney Michael Regan, said the supervisory assistant state’s attorney position would be filled internally. The job will be posted through Nov. 21, said Regan, who will conduct interviews and name McShane’s successor. In the meantime, Regan said he has appointed prosecutor Mary Jean Kanabis, the most senior person in the office, as acting supervisor at the Broad Street courthouse.

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