Norwalk v. Doutel - Hearing #1 (07/27/2011)
As court opens at Norwalk's GA 20 in front of Judge Maureen Dennis, Attorney Baird is now battling two major hurdles that are standing in front of Mr. Doutel's right to possess firearms and retrieve his property from the Norwalk Police Department.
- Issue 1 - Judge Hudock's temporary order as condition of release to not possess firearms.
- Issue 2 - A protective order issued when State's Attorney Lockshier changed the charge to Harrassment in the Second Degree.
Attorney Baird makes it clear that she has filed a motion to vacate Judge Hudock's temporary order that Mr. Doutel not possess firearms based on the premise that the reasoning for the temporary order was the charge of Threatening in the Second Degree. Since this charge was substituted in the Second Status Update for Harrassment in the Second Degree, the order should logically no longer stand.
Attorney Baird also argues that under Connecticut General Statute 54-1k(a), the subject of the order needs to be in fear for their physical safety. The subject of the order was clearly defined as being Sandy Staw when the order was issued during the Second Status Update. Attorney Baird reasons that when the protective order was issued during the Second Status Update, no evidence was introduced that Sandy Staw was in any fear for her physical safety.
Due to the obvious mishandling of the protective order and the the important human rights taken away from Mr. Doutel as a result, Attorney Baird makes a motion for Judge Dennis to recuse herself from the proceedings.
Quite simply, the only evidence that Sandy Staw or Jeanine Roy were in fear for their physical safety was the police report written by Jared Zwickler. State's Attorney Lockshier and Judge Dennis indicate this is, in fact, the only evidence they based their collective actions on.
As Attorney Baird indicates, the voicemail is the only main evidence in this case. The statements by Dr. Staw and his office are tainted since they have ulterior motives to see Mr. Doutel punsihed and tied up in court. Dr. Staw is a convicted felon against whom Mr. Doutel has alledged possible fraudulent activities. Officer Zwickler's report is based entirely on their accounts, which for obvious reasons, should not be trusted on their own.
The only physical evidence in this case is the voicemail. It is the only non-biased piece of evidence that can hint one way or the other towards Mr. Doutel's motivation and intent that day.
State's Attorney Lockshier states openly that the only evidence needed for her to request a protective order is the police incident report where Officer Zwickler surmises that Jeanine Roy and Sandy Staw fear for their safety and the safety of other personnel partly because of the voicemail and partly because Mr. Doutel 'brandishes' a firearm. In doing so, State's Attorney Lockshier places complete faith in the statements of a convicted felon and that felon's accomplices over a law abiding citizen.
State's Attorney Lockshier may be correct that legally, she has enough evidence to apply for a protective order, but free citizens in Connecticut should certainly hope and expect that a person with such power and control over people's freedom would exercise more care and at least an ounce of morality when making these decisions. Citizens of Connecticut should also surely hope that even if a State's Attorney does not exercise the aforementioned caution and care required to not simply trust a convicted felon's word over a law abiding citizen's word, then you could certainly hope that a judge like Judge Dennis would. Sadly, neither is reality in this case.
In a confusing move, State's Attorney Lockshier makes an objection to the subpoena of Chief Rilling of Norwalk with the excuse that Attorney Baird is also engaged in a Federal civil suit against the Norwalk Police Department. This is especially confusing because the Federal civil suit is not Mr. Doutel's civil suit. The Federal civil suit is being brought by Mrs. Doutel, since the Norwalk Police Department stole her firearms without warrant with no accusations at all about her conduct at any time. In fact, Mrs. Doutel still lawfully holds a pistol permit and is not restricted or prohibited in any way from possessing firearms.
Officer Reda testifies that he had no contact with Mr. Doutel, that he did not make entry into the residence and did not author any documents related to the case.
Officer Salley testifies that he had no contact with Mr. Doutel, that he did not make entry into the residence and did not author any documents related to the case. He also testifies that he "Just stood there" for "officer safety".
(Reference Transcript, Sheet 61, Line 11)
Officer Jared Zwickler testifies that while he was at the medical office of Dr. Igal Staw, he reviewed no documents and his investigation into the complaints was limited to listening to the voicemail and talking to the complaintants Jeanine Roy, Sandy Staw and Dr. Igal Staw. Officer Zwickler does not recall whether anyone at the medical office requested a protective order.
Officer Zwickler justifies his investigation by reasserting mysterious accusations about how Mr. Doutel would 'brandish' his firearm at the office and how he 'made a point of showing the firearm' to office staff. As a part of the continued investigation, Officer Zwickler admits to calling the State Police Special Licensing and Firearms Unit (SLFU) to establish whether or not Mr. Doutel had firearms registered to him. He justifies this by saying he want to know if it was 'safe for him and the officers with him'.
This logic is confusing and shows poor judgment and reasoning on behalf of the rookie officer. Officer Zwickler at this point has already been told Mr. Doutel carries a firearm. Even if SLFU had reported no firearms registered to Mr. Doutel, why would any officer treat the issue in a different manner? Officer Zwickler had already decided to arrest Mr. Doutel and was gathering other officers to surround Mr. Doutel's residence. The issue of whether or not SLFU was aware of the firearm Mr. Doutel carried is irrelevant, particularly when any citizen or police officer should always assume any other person is armed at all times.
According to Officer Zwickler, the knowledge that Mr. Doutel possessed firearms caused him to call Mr. Doutel before arriving and tell him to not have any weapons on him or near him because he was coming to arrest Mr. Doutel.
A question must be asked: If Officer Zwickler did not trust Dr. Staw or his staff enough to rely on their report that Mr. Doutel had a firearm, why did he trust them enough to arrest a man based on nothing other than their accounts and a vague, non-threatening voicemail?
Instead, it certainly appears that Officer Zwickler has made a concious decision to raid Mr. Doutel's house without a warrant and he wanted to know what to look for. This is a great example of why registration of firearms is an evil thing to be abused by people with ill intent.
Officer Zwickler testifies that his first contact with Mr. Doutel consists of Mr. Doutel on his front lawn already being arrested by other officers that were sent as Officer Zwickler's backup. Officer Zwickler reports that Mr. Doutel complied with the order via dispatch that he come out unarmed and surrender and that he was compliant throughout his arrest. He also makes it clear that no officers needed to enter the house to retrieve Mr. Doutel.
Officer Zwickler then testifies that he went inside Mr. Doutel's house to search for 'evidence of firearms' related to the charge of Second Degree Threatening. This is odd, because Officer Zwickler then admits that he did not know what firearms were involved in the complaint and had no description to search for. Instead, Officer Zwickler admits he just removed all the firearms he found inside the home without justification. If the reasoning is 'evidence' of the crime he believes Mr. Doutel committed, why is the seizure limited to firearms and not holsters and his phone as well? Why not seize the hat that Mr. Doutel carefully placed over the firearm in the examination room?
Officer Zwickler doesn't remember how many other officers were in the house or who they were, but does remember that Mr. Doutel was in the house with him.
The voicemail recording is played for the courtroom.
During an objection in the middle of Officer Zwickler's testimony, State's Attorney Lockshier admits:
I think on a previous court date that counsel had indicated or I don't know if it I were by way of verbal motion or a written motion that she wanted these guns to be returned to Ms. Doutel because she has a gun permit, I believe.
In the -- it's the State's position that that would still constitute constructive possession that he should not have any guns in his home according to the protective order and according to the temporary order and I think that that's the road we're going down.
State's Attorney Lockshier invokes the legal fiction of constructive possession to make clear her prejudice against the Doutel's possessing firearms, even though there is nothing preventing Mrs. Doutel from possessing firearms in any way, nor is there anything keeping her from carrying firearms with her pistol permit. The law is clear that Mrs. Doutel is a law abiding citizen and there is no reason she should not be returned the firearms that were seized without just cause from her. Even if Mr. Doutel was convicted as a felon (like Dr. Igal Staw is), Mrs. Doutel would still be able to legally possess and carry a firearm. It would be Mrs. Doutel's responsibility to secure access to her firearms by Mr. Doutel.
Attorney Baird introduces the statement of Dr. Igal Staw taken at the medical office as an exhibit. Officer Zwickler is asked to read the statement to see if he can determine what type of firearm was reported to have been 'brandished' at the medical office. Officer Zwickler responds "Dr. Staw mentioned a revolver.".
At this point, Attorney Baird references another exhibit, the list of firearms seized from Mr. Doutel's residence with the purpose of questioning Officer Zwickler on whether or not he confiscated a revolver or not, since his testimony indicated that he seized the firearms as evidence of the threatening charge.
It should be noted at this point, that of the 7 firearms seized that day, not a single one was a revolver.
Officer Zwickler testifies that when he spoke to Dr. Staw, that Dr. Staw indicated he felt threated by the voicemail because of the context that Mr. Doutel is known by Dr. Staw to carry a firearm.
Officer Zwickler cannot recall whether or not he transported Mr. Doutel to the police station. Once at the police station, Officer Zwickler states that Mr. Doutel did not exhibit the racist tendencies or 'right wing political philosophies' that Officer Zwickler had taken as fact from Dr. Staw.
Officer Zwickler does state that Mr. Doutel was 'a little agitated' at being placed under arrest, but that he made no inappropriate remarks or actions about it. This sounds remarkably calm for someone being arrested on such a flimsy basis, who just had their house searched and property seized without a warrant. Especially when you compare his actual behavior with the type of behavior alleged in the complaint of Dr. Staw and his associates.
- Doutel's Motion to Dismiss (Memorandum) - 07/13/2012
- Doutel's first hearing - 07/27/2011
- USAO's report on Dr. Igal Staw's sentencing for health care fraud
- Doutel's second hearing - 08/22/2011
- Norwalk's motion to return defendant's property
- Voicemail recording with captions
- Vinnie Penn interview about Norwalk v Doutel and background check fees
- Officer Jared Zwickler's incident report
- Defendant's motion to disclose police report - 04/05/2012
- Doutel's first status update hearing - 05/20/2011
- Doutel's Motion to Dismiss - 07/13/2012
- Denial of Mr. Doutel's Motion to Dismiss
- Doutel's second status update hearing - 07/05/2011
- Doutel's fourth status update hearing - 07/05/2012
- Defendant's motion to vacate - 05/23/2011
- Prosecution's motion to lower charge to Creating a Public Disturbance
- HHS decision against Dr. Igal Staw based on Felony Health Care Fraud conviction
- Defendant's motion for a speedy trial
- Defendant's motion for Removal of Protective Order
- Doutel's third status update hearing - 05/07/2012