by Jennifer Swift
Sep 24, 2013
09:33 AMConnecticut Politics
The Politics of Getting Into the Bonnie Foreshaw Clemency Hearing
Editor's note: The following is a Cool Justice opinion column written by Andy Thibault, a contributing editor to 21st Century Media Co. newspapers in Connecticut.
Don’t expect the red-carpet treatment if you assert your right to attend the Bonnie Foreshaw clemency hearing Oct. 9 at the York Correctional Institution.
The state Correction Department has dragged its feet issuing guidelines for attendance while throwing up roadblocks for media coverage that violate the Freedom of Information Act.
The Foreshaw case illustrates the way battered women are treated by Connecticut’s criminal justice system. It’s not a case the state would use to market itself as a desirable place with a great quality of life.
Foreshaw, now 65, was raped and infected with venereal disease as a youngster and beaten with a baseball bat and stabbed in the throat and had her teeth kicked out as an adult. This history was disregarded with depraved indifference by many lawyers, judges and prosecutors.
The state board of Pardons and Paroles - acting on what Chair Erika Tindill called “new and compelling information” - voted unanimously on June 17 to grant a clemency hearing for Foreshaw. The new information was a blistering five-page memo written by Superior Court Judge Jon Blue 24 years ago when he was a public defender.
In the memo, to then Chief of Legal Services Joette Katz, Blue excoriated fellow public defender Dennis O’Toole for “disturbing” and “shocking malpractice.” The new information was revealed May 27 in The Cool Justice column published by The Register Citizen and other 21st Century Media Connecticut Group publications.
“Had it not been for the surfacing of that memo, which we had no idea about,” Tindill told The Associated Press,“we would not have reconsidered her case.”