My law firm primarily focuses on representing adult and juvenile clients in Eastern Connecticut being investigated for or charged with crimes, including: all felonies, misdemeanors, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, and other serious motor vehicle violations. I have also developed a niche law practice representing people convicted of crimes who are seeking pardons or erasure of their Connecticut criminal records.
My law office also provides legal counsel, assistance and representation to individuals and labor organizations in employment and labor relations matters.
My law firm was originally established as a solo practice in 1990. At that time, my law practice focused exclusively on representing labor unions and workers in labor and employment matters, including workers' compensation. By the late 1990s, I added criminal defense to the legal services I provided clients and then I continued to expand that practice area.
In 2005, as legal work representing unions in labor relations matters became more scarce due to declines in the unionized workforce generally, I began redirecting the focus of my law practice toward criminal defense. Today, about 80 percent of my law practice is criminal defense in adult and juvenile cases. The remaining 20 percent or so of my practice consists of representing people who are seeking pardons for their criminal convictions from the State of Connecticut or who have employment related issues with their employers or former employers. I continue to represent a few local labor unions in labor relations matters.
In State v. Matthew S, I was successful in keeping a young man out of jail by persuading the sentencing judge to grant him a ten year fully suspended sentence with five years probation when the prosecution was arguing for a 12 year sentence suspended after six years in jail for a guilty plea to assault in the second degree case where the victim was very seriously and permanently injured as a result of the fight.
In another matter involving a man accused by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) of child abuse and neglect, with a client and spouse who were fully willing to follow my advice, I was successful in forcing DCF to drop its investigation without a finding of abuse or neglect and I was successful in thwarting police efforts to secure an arrest warrant for my client. This case proves the value of good pre-arrest legal representation and counsel to avoid criminal charges entirely.
746 Main Street
Willimantic CT 06226
All pre-trial representation in criminal, motor vehicle offense, and juvenile defense matters is by fixed-price fee retainers that vary depending on various factors, case by case.
I charge a two stage flat fee for criminal pardons in Connecticut: $995 for assistance preparing and filing the pardon application; and if a pardon hearing is granted, an additional $1500 for preparation and representation at the hearing.
I charge a flat fee of $750 for pre-arrest representation during criminal or DCF investigations.
My trial preparation and representation is billed at $250 per hour and I bill my legal assistant at the rate of $75 per hour.
Usual office hours are 10 to 6, Monday-Friday, by appointment.
Office Manager is Berkeley Nowosad and Legal Assistant is Kelley Finlan.
We understand and speak some Spanish and can make arrangements for interpreters if needed.
I originally chose to be a union-side labor lawyer because I grew-up in a working-class home of immigrants. I understand and I am sympathetic to the plight of working-class people in the United States. As a union-side labor attorney I was able to use my law school education and legal skills to serve the people and roots I come from. Union-side labor law is a practice area where civil rights, equality, social and economic justice issues come together. The work done by union-side labor lawyers improves the lives of a lot of people. As an added benefit, labor law is a very interesting and stimulating area of law practice - I enjoy it. When union-side labor legal work became more scare, I knew I could not cross the ideological divide to become a management-side lawyer.
Criminal defense is the other area of law that has always interested me and that I had already begun practicing. When a lawyer defends a person charged with a crime, he not only defends his client but also all the rest of us. People frequently don't realize that it is the criminal defense attorney who puts the brakes on the state's enormous apparatus for locking-up people. Without criminal defense lawyers challenging the state's police power, the state could lock people up without regard for their rights for no reason at all! Criminal defense lawyers really are the first-line defense against the tyranny of a police state. I am very proud to be a criminal defense attorney defending our rights as well as my clients.
I believe that the legal system, courts and court procedures are a very scary mystery for all but the most sophisticated of clients. As part of my own efforts to de-mystify the legal system for clients, I encourage clients to educate themselves on the legal system and the legal issues confronting them. That being said, I discourage clients from taking advice from frequently well-meaning but usually ill-informed non-lawyer friends, relatives, and those with whom they may be incarcerated.
Self-education in the legal system and the legal issues is a serious endeavor that should not be undertaken lightly or with saving money in mind. Rather, it should be undertaken with the idea that a well-informed client is better able to work with and assist his or her lawyer with representation.
Self-education on legal issues is not the same as nor should it be confused with self-representation in court or in other forums. In all but the most simple and least consequential of legal matters, usually long-lasting and potentially devastating consequences may result. A person thinking about representing himself in court or in another forum where the stakes are high is well advised to heed the old adage that he who represents himself has a fool for a client.
I am happy to review, edit and revise documents prepared by clients for modest fees. Such legal assistance can be a very satisfactory and cost-effective method of providing the right client with all the legal help he may need in a given circumstance.
It depends on the client, the forum and the type of case. If a client appears to be intelligent, reasonably articulate and otherwise capable of adequately representing him or herself in an appropriate forum where the stakes are not too high or the cost of actual legal representation would be prohibitive, I am willing to coach clients to represent themselves for more modest fees. I am most willing to coach appropriate clients to represent themselves at hearings for unemployment compensation benefits. It is my belief and experience that a reasonably intelligent and articulate client who has spent a couple of hours with me coaching him and who has diligently done his homework can adequately represent him or herself at such hearings with a very good chance for a successful outcome.
On the other hand, I believe that clients cannot be adequately coached or prepared to represent themselves in more complicated legal matters or more formal forums such as most courts. I especially discourage people from attempting to represent themselves in criminal courts unless the charges they face are nothing more than infractions that carry no penalty greater than a modest fine without any chance for incarceration. The stakes are simply too high in criminal court. A pro se defendant is no match for a well-trained prosecutor with all the criminal justice apparatus of the state behind him.
From 1980, when I was admitted to the New York bar until I established my law firm in 1990, I was the Regional Counsel for the Greater Northeastern Joint Board of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union (ACTWU). ACTWU merged with the International Lady Garment Workers Union in 1995. The merged international unions became known as UNITE!
As Regional Counsel, I acted as general counsel for the Greater Northeastern Joint Board, representing it and its membership in virtually all of its many legal matters and especially in legal matters related to: collective bargaining, grievance processing, labor arbitration, unfair labor practice and union recognition proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board and in federal courts, and bankruptcy proceedings in United States Bankruptcy Courts securing benefits for workers and the union from bankrupt employers.
When I established my own solo law firm in 1990, I continued to serve as the Regional Counsel for the Greater Northeastern Joint Board until it merged with the UNITE New England Joint Board in 2002. I continued to serve as Regional Counsel to the New England Joint Board until late 2004. Thereafter, I refocused my law practice on more plentiful criminal defense representation in Eastern Connecticut.
I received my most valuable education at Andrew Jackson High School. When I attended high school from 1965-68, Andrew Jackson was the model New York City high school of racial integration. While my parents had always taught me to value everyone and treat each person as I would want to be treated, at Jackson I had the opportunity to apply those lessons across a broad new spectrum of friends from different races and backgrounds. I experienced and learned the benefits of a racially diverse and integrated education. That basic education in humanity has informed and influenced not only how I live my life but also how I practice law.
My work in VISTA also profoundly informed and increased my compassion and empathy for the disadvantaged members of our society. There is no real substitute for living in a poor community and working for poverty wages to inform oneself about what being poor in the United States is all about. I learned compassion and empathy for those struggling to survive poverty in the richest country in the world.
Potential clients often ask if I am aggressive, as if that were always a good thing in a lawyer. The answer is, I am effective. I want to be as effective as I possibly can be in getting the best possible results for my clients. Aggression usually interferes with effectiveness. So, I am only aggressive when I need to be. Most of the time, there is a better way to achieve the best result. Since 98 percent of all cases are resolved without a trial, a good negotiating strategy is usually necessary to persuading prosecutors and judges to give my clients the best outcome. As a union-side labor lawyer I developed excellent negotiating skills that now benefit my criminal defense clients as well.Personal interests:
My personal interests are quite varied, ranging from my family and friends to human rights, social and economic justice issues. My interests in the struggle for human rights, equality, social and economic justice, have played a major role in determining who I am and the kind of lawyer I am.
I like learning new things. I enjoy reading. I learn a lot of new things that make me a better lawyer by reading.
I enjoy physical activity too. For years I studied martial arts but for nearly ten years now I have been studying swing, Latin and ballroom dancing. My passion is Argentine Tango.
I also enjoy photography, especially black and white film photography.
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