Thursday, December 06, 2007

FOI Subpoena Request For Hearing 12-13-07 / Ballad Of The Lying Lawyer

P.O. Box 1415
Litchfield, CT 06759
* Phone- 860-690-0211 * Fax- 860-567-9119

Thurs., Dec. 6, 2007

Atty. Tracie Brown
Hearing Officer
Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission
18-20 Trinity St.
Hartford, CT 06106

Re: Case Nos. FIC 2007-418, 2007-421, and 2007-458







Dear Attorney Brown:

On Friday, Nov. 30, I received a call from your colleague Tom Hennick. Hennick related a bizarre and patently false assertion by Atty. Christine Chinni that I had received all documents requested from Regional District 10 School Superintendent Paula Schwartz in the above-captioned matters.

This latest false statement clearly places Chinni in the category of serial liar.

You will recall my letter to you of Nov. 19, 2007 citing a pattern of lying by Chinni [see correspondence Oct. 16, 2007: Ethical violations by Atty. Christine Chinni, Deception / Lying].

In the Oct. 16 correspondence I asked the FOI Commission to take judicial notice of Chinni's candor issues.

Chinni's call to Hennick on Friday, Nov. 30, was an attempt to avoid sunlight and accountability in these matters. Certainly we can expect more sleazy attempts to avoid document production.

Friday's call followed the Chinni firm's successful ploy to delay this reckoning from the hearing that was scheduled initially for Dec. 3. Schwartz, in her last few weeks on the job, decided to go to Aruba. The short-timer superintendent received your indulgence for a postponement.

Now, with the hearing rescheduled for Dec. 13 at 9:30 a.m., do we see production of public records? No, instead we see more gamesmanship and billable hours for Chinni.

As an aside, I saw Chinni virtually lurch forward in her seat [and perhaps even salivate] at an FOI hearing in October over the prospect of more billable hours for a post-hearing brief. She in fact became quite animated asking for a briefing schedule. As the commission knows, these types of post-hearing briefs are not even required. It's fair to suspect Chinni is the type of lawyer who logs every billable eight minutes / quarter hour. Her statements about no billing records existing at the time of my initial requests consequently are among her most ludicrous.

Last Friday when she spoke with Hennick, Chinni knew full well that all the documents requested had not been produced. Instead of providing public records, Chinni asked Hennick to ask me to produce an inventory. It is noteworthy that the respondent pretends not to know what was asked and, worse, what she produced and did not produce.

Chinni and Schwartz [even from Aruba] could have simply drafted a list of what was requested versus what was produced.

Instead, Chinni in effect would like me to "prove a negative" and do her work for her. I refused - for the reason just stated.

Unfortunately, there is more to tell about Chinni's aversion to the truth.

This documented distaste for the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth compels me to request a subpoena for Chinni's appearance at the Dec. 13 hearing. If anyone in the history of FOI proceedings should be compelled to testify under oath, it is Chinni.

In the interests of the administration of justice and the mission of the FOI Commission, Chinni should not be allowed to stipulate to any matters or to attempt to testify while acting as counsel - without taking an oath to tell the truth. Although it is a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct to testify in a proceeding in which an attorney is counsel, lawyers sometimes try to do this anyhow at FOI hearings.

Even in another official proceeding [see attachment and prior correspondent], Chinni continued as recently as Nov. 20 to lie about the circumstances of her suppression of write-in ballots sought under FOI and the delay in production of those ballots.

This is all related to the matter of the Famous Douche Bag Case, Doninger v. Schwartz, Niehoff, et al, and the election of a banned candidate to student office, Avery Doninger of Lewis Mills High School.

My Aug. 1 request to Schwartz states: "In addition, this request covers copies of the write-in votes submitted for Ms. Doninger and any and all related records including memos and e-mails. Memos and documents include but are not limited to discussions about the seizure of free speech t-shirts by your staff. To amplify, this request covers any and all public records about this matter in your possession or control, regardless of where they are stored, whether in your office and office computer, home and home computer, etc. … "

Chinni responded as follows related to the write-in ballots: "The Board does not poses [sic] any 'copies of the write-in votes for Ms. Doninger' or memos and emails regarding such write-in votes. There are also no documents or memos concerning the 'seizure of free speech t-shirts.' Accordingly, the board will not be providing any documents in response to these requests."

In response, I asked: "What happened to the scores of write-in votes cast for Ms. Doninger? There were perhaps more than 100 such votes. Did someone destroy these votes? Are they hidden in some secret location? Who made the decision on what should be done with these documents? What discussions took place regarding these actions?" No documents have been produced regarding the handling of the write-in votes and the storm of controversy and citizen outcry generated by the cancellation of the battle of the bands known as Jamfest.

In terms of the memories of Schwartz, Niehoff and Chinni, I submit the following: Certainly, as a lawyer, Chinni should have discussed the deprivation of free speech rights of those voters who cast ballots for Avery Doninger. Recently, her legal team argued this should not be an issue because it took a long time to discover the write-in votes. The duplicity abounds and the failure to produce records connected with this election theft is obscene.

As I told Schwartz, certainly there are records of who was on the ballot, who was taken off the ballot, who was solicited to run by the administration and who 'won' various elections without factoring in the write-in votes. I request those records as well.

How did they know who to report as winners during announcements? Was this communicated telepathically?

Significantly, Chinni attempted to rewrite history regarding the write-in ballots during another official proceeding. She lied about her response to me, feebly trying to cover her tracks from failing to tell truth and the entire truth.

The following paragraphs explain how Chinni attempted to pull off this charade.

On Nov. 20 Chinni falsely reported her response to my initial request. She added three crucial words that were not part of her response to me. She also spelled the word possess correctly in this Nov. 20 version.

Here is what Chinni wrote on Nov. 20, attempting to make it appear as if she told the truth on Aug. 1: "The Board did not possess any copies of the write-in ballots for Avery Doninger. The Board had no copies of those documents, only the originals."

Only the originals. Why didn't she say that on Aug. 1? Why did she insert this on Nov. 20 as if she had said it on Aug. 1? Clearly, there was an effort to deceive, to give a false impression, to lie. When a citizen asks for a copy of a public record, the common understanding is that it will be made from an original.

Without vigilance by the complainant, Chinni's lie might have succeeded. No one would have known who actually won the election in question. Chinni made a deliberate misstatement. Why didn't she tell the truth? She has a moral and legal duty to tell the truth to the public, especially non-members of the Bar.

It is noteworthy that Chinni employed a similarly-sleazy tactic regarding the billing records, that is, she gave the false impression in another official proceeding that she cited an insurance company's custody of the billing records in the initial response. This exhibits a pattern of trying to rewrite the record to cover up lies.

To eventually secure the write-in ballots, I was compelled to make the following points in my complaint two days after the request and Chinni's false statement:

In my request letter, I asked for -- among other items -- copies of the write-in votes submitted for the election of Avery Doninger as secretary for the Lewis Mills High School Class of 2008. A civil rights lawsuit claims school officials removed Doninger from the ballot in the spring of 2007 as punishment for her constitutionally-protected activity, including trying to involve the community in securing a venue for a concert.

There were numerous witnesses to the submission of the write-in votes. There were scores of such votes submitted, perhaps more than 100. As one Lewis Mills student wrote: "On the day of elections everyone (I mean everyone) wrote in the girls name next to 'Secretary' and circled it. At the end of the day when they had to tell us who won they said that the elections were so close that they were going to give kids who weren't there a chance to vote the next day. The girl who won only had like 7 votes because everyone voted for the girl who wasn't running."

The write-in ballots were produced a week later, only after school officials and counsel were confronted about their subterfuge to hide the ballots. The results were reported by The Cool Justice Report and other media outlets. Certainly this was not prompt production in compliance with the law.

Notably, Schwartz and Chinni have not produced a single email or memo about the write-in ballots or any of the other related requests. They have not produced a single phone log.

Indeed, they have not even produced a single email or phone log that was the subject of testimony by Schwartz and Lewis Mills Principal Karissa Niehoff in U.S. District Court.

Schwartz and Niehoff testified about a number of emails and phone calls received on April 25, 2007, regarding their cancellation of the battle of the bands known as Jamfest.

They continue to hide billing records for work performed for and ultimately paid for by taxpayers in Burlington, Harwinton and throughout all of Connecticut, using Chinni and an insurance carrier as beards or fronts. They have produced only portions of Chinni's billing records.

I have requested complete production of all unredacted billing records related to these matters for an in-camera review by the FOI Commission. It is unconscionable that Scwhartz and Chinni continue to stonewall and lie about documents that should have been produced months ago. They should be fined to the full extent of the law and sanctioned in every way possible by the FOI Commission.

When a municipality selects lead counsel for serious and high-profile litigation, the administrators sign off - one way or another - on the selection of the firm to be hired. In any case, the board is a third party beneficiary of the policy and retainer. To date, documents citing the firm Howd & Ludorf have been not produced. The Region 10 Board of Education should have been billed for and probably paid the deductible for the insurance policy related to this litigation? Where are those records? The public is paying directly and indirectly for Howd & Ludorf's work. Clients - the taxpayers - have a right to view these public records promptly during regular business hours.

Perhaps Chinni continues to stonewall on production of these public records because they will demonstrate a massive Lawyer Welfare Program funded unknowingly by taxpayers and insurance ratepayers.

The stonewalling must stop. The lying must stop. Tell the truth and produce the records.

Accordingly, to cast a little sunshine on The Chinni FOI Deception and generate awareness in the public interest, I have produced a ditty entitled The Ballad Of The Lying Lawyer. Apologies to Little Anthony And The Imperials.

The Ballad Of The Lying Lawyer

Chinni Chinni Liar Liar

Editor's Note:

To get the beat, we suggest listening to another version of this tune as recorded by Little Anthony And The Imperials. Click on the following link and scroll to Shimmy Shimmy Ko-Ko Bop under Listen To Samples, Number 5.

The Cool Justice Report realizes that a lawyer lying is not necessarily news. Clearly, however, a lawyer stupid enough to lie on paper and arrogant enough to defend herself in an official proceeding with more lies is newsworthy.

The lawyer featured in The Ballad Of The Lying Lawyer is Christine Chinni of Chinni & Meuser, Avon, Ct., counsel for the Region 10 Board of Education in The Famous Douche Bag Case. Chinni aided Douche Bag administrators in the suppression of a write-in vote for a student who sought redress of grievances and then the respondents denied the ballots existed in response to a Freedom of Information request.

Chinni Chinni Ko-Ko-Bop
Chinni Liar Bop
Chinni Chinni Ko-Ko-Bop
Chinni Liar Bop
Sittin' in a native hut
All alone and blue
Sittin' in a native hut
Wonderin' what to do

Along came a lyin' lawyer
Did a native dance
It was like in paradise
Put me in a trance

Chinni Chinni Ko-Ko-Bop
Chinni Liar Bop
Chinni Chinni Ko-Ko-Bop
Chinni Liar Bop
Joined her in her dancin' spree
Felt my spine a-tingle
Held her tight and close to me
Man I'm glad I'm not single
Then she showed me what to do
First I was amazed
Soon I learned a step or two
Put me in a daze

Chinni Chinni Ko-Ko-Bop
Chinni Liar Bop
Chinni Chinni Ko-Ko-Bop
Chinni Liar Bop
Chinni Chinni Ko-Ko-Bop
Lyin' Lawyer Bop
You can do the ko-ko-bop
But now it's time to stop
Give it up and don't go back
Get over to the truth side

Uh syncopate your last two steps
Now you're going to glide
Keep along the rhythm track
Girls please show 'em how
Now you start to arch your back
Man you got it now

Chinni Chinni Ko-Ko-Bop
Chinni Liar Bop
Chinni Chinni Ko-Ko-Bop
Lyin' Lawyer Bop

It is also noteworthy that Chinni lied to a reporter for the Bristol Press, Jacqueline Manning, about the billing records. Manning wrote a number of stories about the case and reported a statement from Chinni that there was no retainer agreement with Howd & Ludorf. Manning, of Southington, will testify before the FOI Commission and the other official proceedings.

Here is an account by Manning:

I called Christine Chinni on or about late July- early August 2007 regarding Katherine Rule and Thomas Gerarde of Howd & Ludorf making appearances in New Britain Superior Court on behalf of Region 10 school officials in the case of Avery Doninger. I also called Thomas Gerarde and Katherine Rule. None of them returned my calls.

On Aug. 9 I called Chinni and Gerarde again. Chinni called me back this time.

I asked Chinni how the law firm of Howd & Ludorf came to be involved in the defense team. Attorney Chinni said, "It's a private matter."

To this response I said that if the firm is being paid with taxpayers' money then it wasn't a private matter and that I was planning to submit an FOI request for a copy of the retainer agreement.

At that time Attorney Chinni said that I would receive the same response as Mr. Thibault, that there is no retainer agreement between Region 10 and Howd & Ludorf. I said what about billing or records payments made to the firm for its services? She replied there is no retainer agreement between Region 10 Board of Education and Howd & Ludorf. Additionally, she said Region 10 did not possess any billing records from Howd & Ludorf and no payments had been made to the firm by school district. Naturally I responded, "So they aren't getting paid for their services?" To which Chinni replied, "I didn't say that."

A few days later, Thibault contacted me and directed me to the Rules of Professional Responsibility section 1.5B. He also told me a source confirmed that the school district's insurance company was footing the bill. I called the state of Connecticut Judicial Branch and spoke with Chief Disciplinary Counsel Mark Dubious to verify that the lack of a retainer agreement i.e. that Chinni's response, was in violation of Professional Ethics Rules. Dubois confirmed this and commented for the article. (See Aug. 17, 2007 story in The Bristol Press.)

Before I submitted the article to my editor, I called Attorney Gerarde again and left him a voice mail message. I said something to the effect that Chinni stated there was no retainer agreement with his law firm and according to Mark Dubious this a violation of Professional Ethics rules. I said that I welcomed his comment for the article. I also called Christine Chinni and left voice mail messages simply asking for a return phone call regarding an article that I was writing about the Doninger lawsuit. I also called Paula Schwartz and left a voicemail message asking if the taxpayers of Harwinton and Burlington were paying for the legal services of Howd & Ludorf in any way shape or form. Schwartz never returned my phone call.

Gerarde called me back a short time later. He said he Mark Dubois was correct and confirmed that Howd & Ludorf had a retainer agreement with Region 10 Board of Education's Insurance carrier, Massamont Insurance Company. He said the insurance company was paying all of the firm's legal fees.

Approximately three to four hours later Chinni returned my phone call. I asked her again if any retainer agreement existed between Region 10 and Howd & Ludorf. She said, "No."

I also asked Chinni if the taxpayers of Harwinton and Burlington were paying for the legal services of Howd & Ludorf in any way shape or form. She said, "No."

I said, "Thank you very much Attorney Chinni."

She immediately said, "Wait," and told me that that Howd & Ludorf had a retainer agreement with Region 10 BOE's insurance company but she really didn't want to go on record as saying that. I said that was fine and asked what she would like to be on the record. Chinni said she preferred not to comment at all. She further said that Region 10 has an obligation to defend the administration. I told her that I use the comments she'd given previously given me about the issue being a private matter. She said that was fine.

I look forward to seeing you during the hearing Dec. 13 at 9:30 a.m.


Andy Thibault
Enclosure / Attachment: Chinni's Nov. 20 statement
Copies to: Christine Chinni, Paula Schwartz, Jacqueline Manning


  • JI Story On Write-In Win

  • Schwartz Aruba Trip Postpones FOI Hearing

  • Ohio Blog Notes Election Theft In Douche Bag Case

  • FOI Bombshell

  • CT-N Video Of Illegal Secret Meeting FOI Hearing

  • Lary Bloom Douche Bag Column pdf link CT Mag DEC 07

  • Worst School Administrators Of The Year

  • Watching Over Our Children

  • Can U Digg It?

  • Doninger Second Circuit Appeal Brief

  • Comprehensive Posting: Avery Doninger Free Speech Federal Hearing Transcripts

  • *ZAP, *POW, *BAM

  • Liars, Damn Liars And School Officials

  • Liars, Damn Liars & School Officials Part 2

  • Travesty

  • Link To Kravitz Decision

  • Justice Denied: A View From New York

  • Douche Bag In A Coal Mine

  • School Officials Tampered With Disciplinary Records

  • Anger Management For Schwartz?

  • If You Stand Up, People Will Help Out

  • School Officials Go Too Far

  • Fight For Justice Goes On

  • Illustration: Home Of The Douche Bag School Bosses


    Unknown said...

    #1) i know it's a serious subject but i sure couldn't help chuckling serveral times

    #2) you write a damn fine letter

    #3) YOU ARE A BULLDOG (and i never want to get on your bad side)


    Anonymous said...

    This is the second time I'm leaving a comment. I don't see my first comment here. Once again, Christine Chinni is an excellent who works tirelessly for her clients. I know, I worked with her for five years. You are so far off track it's laughable.

    Jeanne Sonstrom