New London's Narducci named prosecutor of the year
Senior Assistant State's Attorney Paul J. Narducci's co-workers in New London Superior Court say he's a great guy, though it's best to leave him alone if he has a trial.
The 55-year-old city native, who has won convictions in many of the region's major crimes over the past two decades, was honored by his peers last week as the state's Prosecutor of the Year. Cross-designated as a federal prosecutor, he works in U.S. District Courts sometimes and last week was honored separately by the U.S. Attorney's office.
Narducci spends most of his workdays at the Huntington Street, New London courthouse, where he has shared a small office with prosecutor Theresa Anne Ferryman for 23 years. He collaborates with police, inspectors from his office and forensic analysts to prepare cases, then presents evidence to juries in meticulous detail. He uses colored pens to organize his work in a system his co-workers say is bewildering, but highly effective.
"Paul's level of case preparation is exhaustive and — I suspect to the inspectors — exhausting," Ferryman said. "His attention to detail knows no equal among lawyers with whom I've worked. He asks questions about an investigation that I would not have thought to ask, let alone know how to answer."
Narducci said trials are time consuming, and that he wouldn't be able to do it if not for his wife, Cathy. They have three children, and Narducci does find time to coach boys and girls soccer. He also is a regular at the gym. He brings his athletic energy to work, and is ready when something unexpected happens in the courtroom. A few years ago, when it appeared an emotional family in the gallery might cause a scuffle, he threw off his suit jacket and stood prepared to back up judicial marshals.
"I like to think of myself as a roll-up-your-sleeves and press-on-with-the-facts prosecutor," he said.
Narducci graduated from St. Bernard High School in 1979, and completed his undergraduate studies at the College of the Holy Cross. He received his law degree from Suffolk University Law School in 1986.
He served as a clerk to state Supreme Court Justices Angelo G. Santaniello and Robert D. Glass, then went to work for the Dannaher, Tedford, Lagnese & Neal law firm of Hartford, where he did insurance and defense torte work. Much of that practice was completed behind the scenes, and he said former prosecutors at the firm recommended he work as a state's attorney, where he would spend a lot of time in court.
Hired by the Division of Criminal Justice in 1993, he worked in the Rockville and Windham districts before transferring to the Geographical Area 10 Courthouse on Broad Street, New London in 1994. A few years later, he started prosecuting serious juvenile and youthful offender cases in all four courts in the New London Judicial District. That led, in 1999, to his current position in the Part A court, where serious crimes are heard.
He said he has been blessed to work with talented staff in a court with a reputation for collegial relationships between prosecutors and defense attorneys.
"We get to where we're supposed to get without all the agita or headaches or contentions," Narducci said.
His supervisor, State's Attorney Michael L. Regan, said no matter how heavy Narducci's workload is, he is always willing to take on more.
"There are times we have to tell him no," Regan said.
Hillary B. Strackbein, administrative judge for the New London Judicial District, said Narducci is an exceptional prosecutor.
"Paul doesn't do things by the seat of his pants," she said. "He prepares. When he's on trial, you don't even want to be around him. He's extremely intense. He's very directed. You can trust everything he says, and that's something we really rely on."
Narducci currently is prosecuting Shaquan Seales, who is accused of the December 2015 murder in New London of Gilberto Olivencia, and Dante Hughes, who is charged with murder in the December 2016 murder of Joey Gingerella in Groton. Both cases are in the pretrial stage, where attorneys meet with a presiding judge and discuss whether they can resolve the charges with a plea deal. He has numerous drug cases in his case load, many of them related to heroin sales.
Even when he's prosecuting somebody accused of heinous crimes, Narducci addresses them politely during their court appearances.
"Many of the defendants are people who have made bad decisions, but are not bad people," he said. "If you can show them a little understanding, that makes it a little more palatable for them to understand why I might recommend a high sentence."
He has a notably good rapport with area police, for whom he said he has the "utmost respect." The cop who makes it into the news for bad behavior is "the rare exception," he said.
"Paul is extremely professional and is a very tenacious prosecutor," said New London Police Det. Richard Curcuro, who was honored by the U.S. Attorney's office, along with Narducci, for their prosecution of several defendants in the murder-for-hire of Javier Rayes.
They also worked together on the cold case murder of Todd Thomas, presenting information to a grand jury and winning two convictions. Narducci, he said, was there for the police "every step of the way."
"Paul reviews every aspect of the case carefully," Curcuro said. "He reads every report, every statement."
Between Narducci and the inspectors in the State's Attorney's Office, no stone is left unturned, Curcuro said, and the region is lucky to have them.
Narducci's work is recognized outside of the area, too. John Doyle, a senior assistant state's attorney in New Haven, said he has a reputation as a tough prosecutor who tries a lot of cases.
Peter A. McShane, who worked with him for years in New London before being named state's attorney for the Middlesex Judicial District, said Narducci has a knack for making witnesses "shine" in the courtroom, even when others think the person might be shaky on the stand.
"The thing Paul is so gifted at is the long-term investigation," McShane said. "And when he walks into a room filled with cops, he can talk to them as well as he can talk to victims and staff. They all walk away knowing Paul will do the right thing in the end."
Narducci can be a jokester on occasion. On quiet days in court, he seems to relish stepping out of the courtroom to "canvas" the hallway if nobody responds when the judge calls a case. His "canvas" consists of bellowing the defendant's name, even if there is nobody around.
"I don't take myself seriously, but I take my job seriously," he said.
Chief State's Attorney Kevin T. Kane, who received a lifetime achievement award on the same night Narducci was honored, said in a phone interview that he was honored and thankful for his own award, but was especially pleased Narducci was recognized. Before he was named head prosecutor for the entire state, Kane was Narducci's supervisor while serving as the state's attorney for New London.
"He's a terrific, hardworking prosecutor," Kane said. "I'm thrilled to see they are giving him the award."
The awards were granted, along with five college scholarships for students who are majoring in law, criminal justice or social work, by the Connecticut Criminal Justice Educational and Charitable Association at a June 14 dinner at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. Two hundred and fifty employees of the criminal justice division had submitted nominations, and a board decided who would get the award.
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