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Editorial: No More Insinuations From Ethics Office

September 9, 2014

In our legal system, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Not kind of responsible, sort of culpable or probably guilty, but guilty. But that is not the way the Office of State Ethics has been playing it.

As The Courant's Jon Lender reported Sunday, the agency that investigates suspected violations of the state ethics code by public officials has at times sent the suspected violator a letter saying the case is being dismissed even though the official "likely" violated the code — a practice known as a "loud dismissal." Though the process at this level is confidential, the letter goes into the individual's personnel file and could reappear in a background check, hurting the person's chances for a promotion or new job.

Fortunately, this practice has ended. Loud dismissals have been quieted, thanks to the efforts of attorney Ernest F. Teitell. Mr. Teitell, representing an unnamed state employee who received a loud dismissal, sent a letter earlier this year to the Citizen's Ethics Advisory Board, which advises the ethics office, questioning whether the agency had the statutory authority to issue loud dismissals.

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