Monday, February 19, 2007





Spoiler Alert: The Overlook


Feds Get Justice In Connelly’s Overlook

Andy Thibault

When I grow up, I want to do something like what Michael Connelly did. So what if I’m a few years older than Connelly.

Connelly determined as a young man that he would be a mystery writer. He must have known then -- in his soul -- of the art he might create to validate integrity and expose corruption while telling great stories. Connelly had no experience, but he liked what Raymond Chandler had to say. He was intrigued by the way director Robert Altman played with Chandler’s “The Long Goodbye.” This led Connelly to play well enough to create his own universe, a universe so endearing that others would support it.

The road to best-selling mystery author included extended stops as a cop reporter in Florida and Los Angeles. I sense many of the friends he made in those years are his friends today.

More than anything, I admire the integrity of Connelly’s writing. Connelly’s hero, detective Harry Bosch, pays a huge price for doing his job. Everyone counts or no one counts is Bosch’s motto. Living that life in any endeavor is an enormous burden. It is the essence of a democratic republic. To the extent that good cops like Bosch do their jobs, we have some hope of living in an actual democracy. For Bosch will not back down against anyone, regardless of power or position. I have not read of anyone calling Bosch graceful, but I see him carrying the mantle gracefully and courageously.

Bosch has some good and capable colleagues. But they are often sidetracked by the inept, the apathetic, the clock-punchers and the corrupt.

Here lies Connelly’s great accomplishment: As an artist he exposes the corrupt and the oppressors in a way far more powerful that he might have as a journalist. Connelly does this with the pacing and depth of character as well as any novelist. Certainly there will be a ripple effect, in the arts and possibly elsewhere.

As readers we see what we want to see. While I explore this dynamic with Connelly, I am compelled to go back for a second round.

Foremost, with Connelly, we get classic great tales with hidden friends and foes jumping out of the bushes right down to the wire. How will Harry or other protagonists smote the enemy, or, first, identify the correct enemy?

I began last fall with The Lincoln Lawyer. Several of my friends in the criminal defense business live elements of protagonist Mickey Haller’s tortured and occasionally rewarding life. Connelly’s Lincoln Lawyer allowed me the pure and guiltless pleasure of following Haller’s peril in a way I might not follow others in real life. The distance and the journey are simultaneously relaxing and invigorating – while safe.

Following The Lincoln Lawyer I read all the Harry Bosch novels, as well as Blood Work and The Poet. Math isn’t my best subject, but I think there are 17 Connelly novels and various short stories. Yesterday, I capped this reading extravaganza and shook up my printer with 16 installments of The Overlook, serialized in The New York Times.

The Overlook, due out as an expanded hardcover in May, gave me the best buzz of all.

Bosch catches a murder. The Feds move in, try to push aside Bosch and the murder, and erroneously make it a weapons of mass destruction case with all the bells and whistles and abuse of power. Thankfully, in Bosch, we have the persona of someone who pushes back – effectively and relentlessly. The Feds get what they deserve, and justice is done.

It is easy to recognize some of the Feds as the bad guys – the arrogant and incompetent losers – as they are in real life. The only thing this coterie of klutzes have going for them is unchecked power in a brotherhood that allows access and action far beyond retirement.

As George Jackson so aptly put it, “Anyone who can pass the civil service test today can kill tomorrow.”

From the political harassment of waves of immigrants going back at least to the 1920’s and the infiltration of the civil rights and anti-war movements -- to their own unclean hands in the operations of organized crime in New England in recent years and spying on citizens today – few if any entities pose a greater threat to the American people than our own government and agents who would happily work for any gang in power. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights be damned.

No one writing mystery stories today tells certain parts of this story better than Connelly.

The story of The Overlook will resonate with good cops throughout the nation. We need more good cops out there like Harry Bosch and more good lawyers like Mickey Haller to protect us from enemies foreign and domestic. We might need more help on the domestic side before it’s too late.

About Mike of Crime & Federalism

Mike loves the law, and he is apolitical. In law school he served as the chapter president Pepperdine’s chapter of the Federalist Society, and was a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

He graduated from Pepperdine Law School, and also served nine years in the National Guard and Army Reserves, where he was the youngest graduate of Officer Candidate School and was honored as the runner-up for Brigade Soldier of the Year (second best soldier out of thousands). He was honorably discharged after resigning his commission in 2004.

He is married and has a (well-read and active) dog.

During law school he earned a perfect "100" in Constitutional Law: Federal and State Power Relations. He won additional awards for obtaining the highest class grades in Advanced Constitutional Law: Supreme Court Seminar, Civil Rights Actions, and White Collar Crime. Additionally, he was selected to serve on a moot court panel that helped prepare Dean Kenneth Starr prepare for a United States Supreme Court oral argument.

Mike worked as a research assistant to three law professors, helping them with a treatise on federal courts and Section 1983 actions, two constitutional law case books, and a book on historically-significant closing arguments. He also worked as a teaching assistant for Advanced Legal Research, and assisted with Henke’s California Law Guide (7th ed.). Recently, he wrote a book review on Constitutional Chaos and submitted numerous entries on criminal and constitutional law for the forthcoming Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties.

Mike has worked on dozens of Section 1983 cases, doing everything from pre-filing consulting to helping write cert. petitions. His criminal law experience is also deep, and includes motion and brief work in everything from marijuana possession to murder, from cases involving complex fraud to computer crimes. Notably, a brief he wrote challenging a state criminal law under the First Amendment persuaded a judge to strike down the law, resulting in a dismissal of criminal charges. A recent motion to dismiss he wrote led to the dismissal of the sole murder count of an indictment as well as nine perjury counts.

Mike has also studied trial advocacy under some of the greatest trial lawyers in the country. While still in law school he graduated from Gerry Spence's Trial Lawyers College Regional Seminar, and Gerry Spence's Trial Lawyers College Advanced Regional Seminar.

Mike can be reached via e-mail at

You can reach Norm Pattis via e-mail at, by visiting his firm's website,, or by contacting him via mail or telephone:

Norman A. Pattis
649 Amity Road
Bethany, CT 06524

Welcome Notes To Crime & Federalism From Mike & Norm

Please Welcome Andy Thibault

Crime and Federalism is pleased to introduce our latest contributor, Andy Thibault.
Thibault, author of Law & Justice in Everyday Life, was an award-winning columnist for Law Tribune Newspapers from 2000-2006, whom F. Lee Baily described as "a gunslinger from the Old West, ready to fire at anything that moves - especially if he doesn't take kindly to the movement."

Thibault was chief investigator for the Washington, D.C. public interest law firm Judicial Watch. While at Judicial Watch, Thibault brought in from the cold two girlfriends of the late U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown as the firm probed cash for trade mission placements and other corruption in that agency.

Thibault also manages a non-profit foundation that awards prizes annually to young poets and writers in Connecticut, and is a licensed professional boxing judge.

You can find more about Thibault at his home page,, and his blog, The Cool Justice Report.

From Norm-

Welcome, Andy. Sit back, relax, and get ready to be gnawed upon by our faithful readers.

1 comment:

Jim Brewer said...

The Case that you say Norm "won" a $600,000 jury verdict was Russo v. Hartford, States Attorney Thomas.

It involved years of hard fought discovery, corruption and investigation. All done by me, Jim Brewer. It also led me to grieve Justice Richard "Dick" Palmer who rigged a supreme court case State v. Russo so his pals on the Hartford P.D including David Kenary a defendant and illegal searcher in the Russo criminal action that I handled would escape civil and maybe criminalliabilty for an illegal search and obstruction of justice in the Pope Park Murder case.

It is amazing that my friends Andy or Norm who seem bent on self promotion, would take that much credit for sucess in that case. Russo deserved MILLIONS and was screwed by a corrupt judiciary in this state every step of the way. A brand new Family court judge brought in to New London to hear his case, the aforementioned Palmer ruling, constant harrasment by the federal judge Janet Hall. I gave up everything for that case. It was a living hell. Even now dirtbag lawyers still hound me for something I don't have, money. I can't get a job and I am living day by day watching corrupt bastards move on.

That Norm salvaged a little by trying the case after I was politically assasinated is true. But did he "win" it? If you like, but the whole truth is I fought the battles and he did the cleaning up.

It is like forgeting all the dead guys on the beach from D-Day and giving medals to the troops who followed while forgeting those who sacrificed so much. I was illegally disbared by a vengeful court system. I got a fraction of the costs (not fees)I paid out to push that case. It broke me in many ways. In the end they even tried to put me in jail on a phoney case Andy wrote about.

Did you forget that Andy?
Am I bitter, yes. But more disgusted than mad. Crime and Federalism? HA!

I did the work on Russo and those involved now it.

And what is this "Comment moderation" Bull. Are you in to censoring now?