Letter to Governor Malloy Regarding Administration’s Attack on a State Prosecutor

February 22, 2018

Senate Republican President Pro Tempore Len Fasano submitted the following letter to Governor Dannel P. Malloy today. The letter is regarding comments made by Mike Lawlor, Office of Policy and Management Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning, which attacked state prosecutor Susan Hatfield.


February 22, 2018

Dear Governor Malloy:

I know you are aware that on January 22, 2018 Mike Lawlor, Under Secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning, posted a statement on twitter regarding state prosecutor and Attorney General candidate Susan Hatfield. I’ve known Mike for a long time and I am extremely disappointed by these comments. I also have grave concerns about your administration’s neglect to address the issue of a top official attacking the very prosecutorial system which he has a role in overseeing. I am writing today to ask that you take appropriate action to make it clear that such comments by a top official are not only unacceptable, but will not be tolerated when coming from a person who holds such power.

Mr. Lawlor labeled Susan Hatfield, a prosecutor with the Statewide Prosecution Bureau in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney, a “racist enabler.” In doing so, Mr. Lawlor has not simply attacked a political candidate; he attacked the state’s entire prosecutorial system by asserting that a standing prosecutor, who has prosecuted many cases, bares the blemish of being a racist. Mr. Lawlor is a powerful official overseeing the very criminal justice system which his comments have now threatened. He has raised a serious, unsubstantiated characterization which potentially could jeopardize the entire body of work performed by the Statewide Prosecution Bureau and therefore endanger every single case the bureau has prosecuted. The far reaching aspects of this characterization are disturbing. His comments could easily be used by all those prosecuted by the state to question the motives and integrity of the very people entrusted to prosecute cases. My concerns about the twitter comments go far beyond the fact that they were offensive to one individual. What greatly troubles me is that the public comments made by your undersecretary in charge of criminal justice could potentially be extremely damaging to the state’s justice system as a whole. Absent the full support of this administration including your undersecretary for criminal justice, the system cannot functionally exist with the confidence of public. Yet instead of addressing the comments, your administration has been silent.

Every citizen has a right to freedom of speech. However, as a government employee and the top official responsible for oversight of all criminal justice policy on behalf of the governor’s administration, Mr. Lawlor is also responsible for balancing his desire to weigh his personal opinion with his job to efficiently fulfill the state’s public service obligations. This has been established by the Connick case. Mr. Lawlor’s twitter comments do not strike this balance and instead could greatly injure the justice system he oversees. Mr. Lawlor’s public comments attacking a state employee who works in a field for which he has high level oversight make his comments something that should immediately concern you as well as all those who care about the integrity of our state’s judicial branch and justice system.

In light of these concerns, I am asking that you discipline Mr. Lawlor for these inappropriate and detrimental comments and request that he remove these comments and issue an apology. If Mr. Lawlor does not comply with your requests and recognize the inappropriate nature of his statements I believe he should be asked to resign from his position. Anyone who is in this position of power overseeing the entire criminal justice system cannot continue running from the damaging impact of his shortsighted comments. People make mistakes, which I understand and which are not my concern. The concern I have is focused on correcting an error in judgment so that we can move forward and put these inappropriate comments behind us.


Len Fasano

Senate Republican President Pro Tempore