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Best defense in criminal case can be a good offense

Ever since O.J. Simpson’s dream team of defense lawyers and investigators went after cops, the tactic gained traction and sometimes results. Others preceded Simpson with the strategy, targeting prosecution teams and even judicial officials in their probes.

It can take years for many of the details to emerge.

Woody Allen – while under investigation in Connecticut for alleged sexual assault of a minor in the early 1990s – deployed high-level teams of private investigators to dig up dirt on state police and the Litchfield County state’s attorney.

A top-ranking state police official told the state’s attorney “that the Allen people were hiring private detectives to try to get some dirt on us.” Allen’s private detectives were compartmentalized, hired by different lawyers and subcontractors working for him. The private detectives included former FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration agents, even former state cops.

A retired federal agent who has worked both sides of the street recently shared this view: “One year you’re talking to someone and they’re on one side and then five years later they’re on the other side.”

One of the key targets for the defense in the Allen case was investigated for drinking, gambling and marital problems. After a time, that subject was found to have issues with handling of evidence. As one of his colleagues told me: “The pieces of the puzzle didn’t always fit, but it wasn’t enough to get him into trouble … He did a lot of favors in Waterbury …”

Cool Justice has been looking into an ongoing criminal case in which retired state police detectives have been helping the defense effort, formally and informally, directly and indirectly. Hint: The detectives worked narcotics. Their institutional memories, case work and experience are of great value to anyone investigating witnesses and others. Stay tuned.

More, including Adam Lanza secrecy, and ACLU in Connecticut.

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