Kevin Smith - Connecticut Criminal Trial Lawyer of the Year 2022

Willoughby Innocent

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Willoughby Innocent

A Superior Court jury Monday morning acquitted Clarence Willoughby in a case that put the New Haven police department on trial as much as the ex-detective.

The six-member jury, which began deliberating Thursday, produced its verdict at 10:14 a.m.

Willoughby (at left in photo), 48, faced nine charges of forgery and larceny. The state accused him of pilfering thousands of dollars intended for police informants while serving as a New Haven detective. He was found not guilty on four counts of second-degree forgery and five counts of second-degree larceny.

“We’re glad it’s over,” Willoughby’s attorney, Norm Pattis, said after the verdict was revealed. “New Haven really has to clean up its record-keeping. It’s shit.”

New Haven State’s Attorney Michael Dearington had no comment on the verdict. Jurors in the case were ushered out a side door of the courthouse before speaking to the media.

Pattis said the next step will be to get the city to reimburse Willoughby for his legal expenses.

“The scary part is over — now we go hunting,” said Pattis.

“This is just starting,” chimed in Willoughby.

During the trial, Pattis (pictured) defended his client by repeatedly putting representatives of the city police department on the defensive. His argument: The department’s process for dealing with confidential informants was so mismanaged, with unreliable and missing documents, that no credible case could be made against Willoughby.

The ex-detective showed up in court Monday morning accompanied by his wife and two daughters, ages 17 and 26.

Nicole, who’s 26, said she regretted how the charges had put an end to her father’s 24-year career. Willoughby resigned shortly before turning himself in to police on Feb. 6, 2008.

“It’s sad, because he helped so many people in the community, and this is how he’s going to be remembered,” said Nicole.

“It’s a sad situation,” added Tearies Willoughby, the ex-detective’s wife of 13 years, “because he loved his job. … He went beyond his job to help people.”

During four-and-a-half hours of deliberations Thursday, the jury emerged twice to reexamine evidence crucial to the defense’s case. The jury took a three-day weekend and resumed deliberating Monday morning.

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