Defendant Claims Lawyer Distracted By His Own Criminal Case
The Law Tribune previews an important or interesting case most weeks when the state Appellate Court or state Supreme Court is in session.
Case: Eddie Rodriguez v. Commissioner of Correction
Court: Connecticut Supreme Court
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 11
Time: 10 a.m.
Attorneys: April Brodeur; Timothy Sugrue
Summary:A man convicted of felony assault and burglary charges claims he did not get a fair trial because his defense lawyer was distracted by his own pending legal problems—criminal charges for bribing and witness tampering.
Background: Eddie Rodriguez was arrested in 1990 and charged with first-degree assault and first-degree burglary stemming from an incident involving his estranged girlfriend, according to court documents.
Rodriguez was represented in his criminal case by Meriden attorney Frank Cannatelli. Before representing Rodriguez, Cannatelli had his own trouble with the law when he was charged with bribery and tampering with a witness in a civil case.
Cannatelli pleaded not guilty and went to trial in October 1991 in Meriden. Ultimately, he was acquitted by a jury.
Rodriguez's case then went to trial in New Haven in November 1991. Just before trial, Rodriguez caught wind of Cannatelli's prior criminal problems and expressed concerns to the trial judge, Thomas O'Keefe.
"He was a criminal petitioner himself about three weeks ago, your honor. He didn't prepare for my case when he should have been preparing for my case," Rodriguez told the judge.
The judge replied: "You can't point to anything specific that leads you to believe he's not ready, can you?"