Prosecutor Who Took Videos Of Women Is Seeking Reinstatement To Bar

, The Connecticut Law Tribune

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Stephen Sedensky
Stephen Sedensky

Former state prosecutor David Holzbach, who was fired last year for photographing and video recording women in Danbury court, is asking a judge to reinstate his privilege to practice law.

"The Respondent states that the disability has been removed and that the Respondent is fit to resume the practice of law," according to a document filed by Holzbach's attorney, Dennis McDonough, of Bethel, in Waterbury Superior Court.

The one-page document offered no details of the "disability" or any treatment that Holzbach received. In a brief interview, McDonough would say little other than Holzbach is "doing well."

"I really can't comment on it while it's pending at this point," McDonough said.

Holzbach, who was admitted to the state bar in 1985 and had been an assistant state's attorney for 24 years, was formerly a resident of the suburban Danbury town of Bethel. He now lives out of state. There is no indication he is trying to get his prosecutor's job back. It appears that he simply wants his law license restored.

The reinstatement hearing was initially scheduled for Monday, Nov. 25. However, it has now been continued until Feb. 3.

Suzanne B. Sutton, the state's first assistant chief disciplinary counsel, said that her office has requested "certain information and documentation for review prior to that hearing.'' She added: "At this point, it is uncertain if or when or under what conditions he will be reinstated."

Holzbach, who was admitted to the state bar in 1985, was fired in August 2012 after being reportedly caught in a courtroom with a large pen that contained a concealed video camera. State officials would later say that Holzbach repeatedly used the $80 Brookstone "video spy pen" to make recordings of women in the courthouse without their permission. During an internal investigation, Holzbach acknowledged using the video pen, but said he never took videos in the restroom, lock-up or jury area.

He had reportedly been admonished twice previously about similar behavior. Holzbach was reprimanded in 1992 by a previous Danbury state's attorney for videotaping courthouse staffers without their knowledge in courthouse hallways and offices, as well as in the parking lot. He was reprimanded again in 2006 for clandestinely photographing a female intern in the state's attorney's office.

'Compromising Angles'

In 2012, current Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky III launched an internal investigation. In his report to Chief State's Attorney Keven Kane, Sedensky said the investigation was launched after a woman complained to a supervisor in Sedensky's office that Holzbach was pointing the video pen at "compromising angles" toward women in the courtroom.

In his report, Sedensky said that Holzbach admitted to regularly making video recordings of female attorneys and courthouse employees, focusing on their legs. The report also noted that Holzbach kept photos of women under the desk in his office, included depictions of women being bound, gagged and subjected to other degrading behavior.

In 2010 or 2011, according to Sedensky's report, Holzbach disobeyed an order to stop bringing a Nintendo DS hand-held gaming device containing a camera to work. Sedensky said he had been told that Holzbach was using it to photograph people coming into the courthouse.

In a letter to Holzbach dated Aug. 1, 2012, Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane called the conduct "so serious that it warrants the termination of your employment."

Sedensky declined to comment last week on Holzbach's application for reinstatement. He said Holzbach's conduct did not violate criminal laws. Connecticut has a voyeurism law, but it's a crime only if the person being secretly recorded isn't in "plain view."

At the request of the state chief disciplinary counsel, a judge in December 2012 revoked Holzbach's ability to practice law by placing him on indefinite inactive status.

"An attorney's position is one of trust and integrity," Sutton wrote in an August 2012 memo. "Disciplinary Counsel believes that Respondent cannot control his deviant behavior as is evident by the long history of behavior and prior reprimands associated with this behavior and cannot be trusted to: avoid voyeurism of prospective clients, witnesses or other counsel; represent clients or prospective clients competently and otherwise conduct himself appropriately."

She added that he "poses a substantial threat of irreparable harm to his clients or prospective clients."

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