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Criminal Justice Commission reveals four finalists for new Inspector General, who will investigate deadly police shootings

The Criminal Justice Commission on Monday announced it has chosen four finalists for the powerful new position of Inspector General, an office that will investigate and prosecute all fatal police use of force cases as the most visible element in a far-reaching package of law enforcement reforms.

 The four, who will be interviewed at length for the position in an unusual public meeting of the commission on Sept. 27, are:

Robert Devlin, Jr.

Devlin is a recently-retired Superior and Appellate Court Judge. Devlin began his career as a state prosecutor and, in the 1980s, joined the U.S. Department of Justice organized crime strike force in New Haven.

Moira Buckley

Buckley represents indigent criminal defendants in the federal courts as an attorney with the Office of Federal Public Defender in Hartford. Previously she worked as a state public defender and in private practice in Hartford with the firm Shipman and Goodwin. Before that, she worked in private practice with her father, F. Mac Buckley.

A. Ryan McGuigan

McGuigan has a criminal defense practice in Hartford with the firm Rome McGuigan, which was co-founded by his father, former Chief State’s Attorney Austin J. McGuigan. McGuigan was a state prosecutor in New Britain and Stamford, before going into private practice.

Liam Brennan

Brennan is a former assistant U.S. Attorney and part of the public corruption team that won a second conviction of former Gov. John G. Rowland in 2014 for violating campaign finance reporting laws while working as a political consultant. He left the U.S. Attorney’s office to become a legal aide lawyer in New Haven. He is now executive director of the Connecticut Veterans Legal Center.

Supreme Court Justice Andrew McDonald, who chairs the Criminal Justice Commission, said the four were chosen for finalist interviews from a wider field of applicants. Each of he candidates will face an hour of questioning from commission members during a meeting that will be open to the public at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.

“I think it is a strong field of applicants,” McDonald said.

The $180,000-a-year position of Inspector General, equivalent in seniority to a Deputy Chief State’s Attorney, is at the top of a package of legislative reforms created by law makers who, at the height of the defund the police movement, were trying to exert greater control over how police officers do their jobs.

Social justice advocates lobbied the Legislature to make the Inspector General a legislative appointment, insuring that the office would be independent of the the state criminal justice system. But language in the state Constitution gave the appointment to the Criminal Justice Commission, an executive agency which hires and supervises state prosecutors.

In a compromise, the commission agreed to interview candidates with criminal justice backgrounds, but from outside the state system. The quasi-independent office is supposed to be part of, but operate separately from the prosecutors in the state Division of Criminal Justice.

The $180,000-a-year Inspector General will have unusually broad powers not available to others in state law enforcement, specifically the authority to issue subpoenas compelling witnesses in police use of force investigations to provide statements or produce records. Investigative subpoenas are used routinely by law enforcement elsewhere and by federal prosecutors in Connecticut in cases involving complex crime like political corruption.

For decades, the legislature has brushed aside pleas by state prosecutors for subpoena power. It finally granted it to the Inspector General this year, but for use only in investigations of potential police misconduct.

The Legislature empowered the Inspector General to “investigate all instances of deadly force and where physical force by a peace officer results in death. In addition, it will be the duty of the office to prosecute any case where the finding is not justifiable and make further recommendations concerning the peace officer in question to the Police Officers Standards and Training Council.”

The nine-member office is expected to cost about $1.5 million a year in salary and benefits, with another $50,000 to $100,000 a year for office space separate from other prosecutors and law enforcement. The eight staff in addition to the inspector general will include a senior assistant prosecutor, five inspectors, a forensic analyst and a paralegal. The office is expected to run 25 full investigations a year.

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