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Connecticut Criminal Trial Specialist Richard Meehan Talks Defense

June 14, 2013 02:20pm  
Connecticut Criminal Trial Specialist Richard Meehan Talks Defense

Shelton, CT—Richard Thomas Meehan decided to specialize in criminal law the day he saw his father win a big verdict.

“As a 1L, I was assisting my dad, who was trying a murder case in our old Superior Court building,” Meehan recalled in a recent interview with  “The case was a sensational murder case, and the jury deliberated far into the night, returning a verdict of 'not guilty' at about 10 PM.  The room was electric, the tension and anticipation after the jury knocked on the door to announce that it had a verdict was like a drug to me—I was hooked.”

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Nearly four decades later, Meehan has received a great level of success and has received numerous accolades for his zealous trial work.  He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers- named one of the top 100 trial lawyers in Connecticut and of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, limited to the top 500 litigators in the United States.   

His skill and achievements have led him to also  be certified as a Criminal Trial Specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. 

As a Criminal Trial Specialist,  Meehan believes that defendants and defense lawyers are facing an uphill battle.  “One of the biggest challenges is the increasing presence of private video surveillance systems,” he says.  “The recent use of those in apprehending the Boston bombers is an excellent illustration.”

However, according to Meehan, those same systems can also be used to the defense's advantage when a defendant is innocent.  “I represented a fellow who had once been convicted of stalking a former lover.  She continued to try to have him arrested each time there was a chance encounter,” he recalls, saying that in one of these arrests, the accuser said the defendant had pulled up behind her at a gas station.

When the video from the gas station came out, though, it showed something different: “The video showed her actually pulling into the gas station, apparently having recognized his car, and then she pulled out in front of him and called her friend, who was a local cop, complaining that he was right behind her,” Meehan says.  The state dropped the pending cases against his client.

When it comes to young attorneys entering the profession, Meehan says that the biggest challenge is “the lack of trial opportunities.  Because of the proliferation of pre-trial diversionary programs and the crush of cases in the system, many do not know how to build a viable defense.”

A lack of available cases has also made it too easy for criminal defense lawyers to bite off more than they can chew, according to Meehan.  “We have such a crush of new lawyers that there is not enough business to go around.  Young lawyers will take cases way beyond their ability and experience level.  Learning how to seek a mentor, even if one is a sole practitioner hanging out a shingle for the first time, is crucial.”

One of the biggest factors leading to a lack of trial experience in young defense lawyers is the fact that very few cases proceed to trial at all today.  “A recent opinion from the US Supreme Court noted that in excess of 97 percent of all federal prosecutions and 94 percent of state prosecutions nationwide resolve with pleas,” Meehan says.  “Trials are expensive and risky—they are the last resort of the truly innocent or the unrepentant guilty.”

Most recently, Meehan has come to the forefront of criminal litigators in the State of Connecticut as lead counsel to Bridgeport’s Mayor Joseph Ganim in defense of a 24-count federal public corruption indictment.

Outside the courtroom, Meehan, together with members of his family, founded the Christian Meehan Hope Foundation for SIDS in recognition of his infant grandson, Christian Tomas Meehan, who succumbed to SIDS in 2003. He also considers himself an avid sportsman - accomplished flyfisherman, boater and motorcycle enthusiast.

To learn more about Richard Meehan and his practice click here.


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