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Andy Thibault honored with open government award

19 Jun

Andy Thibault, who has worked with The Register Citizen, Middletown Press and New Haven Register over the past two years as a columnist and contributing editor, was honored Wednesday with the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information‘s Stephen A. Collins Award.

According to CCFOI President Jim Smith, Thibault was instrumental in ensuring that the clemency hearing of convicted murderer Bonnie Foreshaw proceeded in public. He unearthed a 25 year-old letter from a public defender stating that Foreshaw had not received a fair trial. When she was released last November, one of her first questions was, “Where’s Andy?”

Andy Thibault accepts the 2014 Stephen A. Collins Award from the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information.

Andy Thibault accepts the 2014 Stephen A. Collins Award from the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information.

Thibault has hammered away on Freedom of Information Act and open government issues over the course of his career as a reporter, editor, teacher and activist. He is a former member of the state’s Freedom of Information Commission and the Litchfield Board of Education. A former editor of The Register Citizen who has also worked at the Hartford Courant and several other Connecticut newspapers, Thibault is a licensed professional boxing judge, a moving force behind the Connecticut Young Writers Project and a private investigator.

Thibault’s reporting tackled police brutality in Hartford in the early 1990s, the Young & Rubicam “Come Back to Jamaica” kickback scandal, the financial irregularities of the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, the cover-up of a hit-and-run death in New London and the 1996 bombing at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. He is the author of several books, including, “History of the Connecticut State Police” in 2003 and “Law & Justice in Everyday Life” in 2002.

Others honored by CCFOI as champions of open government Wednesday were South Windsor Police Chief Matt Read, CTNewsJunkie.com reporter Hugh McQuaid and state Sen. Ed Meyer.

Journalists play role in Bonnie Foreshaw’s release

10 Oct

Connecticut’s Board of Pardons and Paroles granted clemency yesterday to Bonnie Foreshaw, who had spent 27 years behind bars for “premeditated murder” in a case that should have probably been prosecuted as manslaughter and carried a fraction of the sentence.1374234_10151964200475775_626371659_n

I’d like to think they would have come to the same conclusion regardless, but am proud of the work Andy Thibault, a contributing editor to our Digital First Media newsrooms in Connecticut, did on this case.

Thibault uncovered the existence of what has become known as the “Blue Note,” a letter outlining a huge miscarriage of justice in the case that was written 24 years ago and ignored for more than two decades by public officials who could have addressed it.

Thibault was also instrumental in getting the Department of Corrections to move yesterday’s clemency hearing to a location easily accessibly by the public and media.

Other journalists who gave the Bonnie Foreshaw case the attention it deserved included staff at Connecticut’s WNPR radio station, who devoted a full episode of the “Where We Live” program to the case and provided live coverage of yesterday’s hearing.

Andy Thibault joins JRC Connecticut as contributing editor

9 Mar

Longtime Connecticut journalist Andy Thibault will work with Journal Register Company’s publications in Connecticut as a contributing editor.

His focus, to start, will be on investigative reporting projects and Freedom of Information Act matters. He will also work as a writing coach and mentor for newspapers that include the New Haven Register, The Middletown Press and The Register Citizen of Torrington and the weekly Litchfield County Times and West Hartford News.

Longtime Connecticut journalist Andy Thibault will be working with Journal Register Company newspapers in the state. (Walter Kidd photo/Litchfield County Times)

Thibault is a former editor of The Register Citizen and has also worked as an editor at the Hartford Courant, Stamford Advocate, Connecticut Post, Norwich Bulletin and Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Times Leader.

He is a former commissioner and hearing officer of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, a former Litchfield Board of Education member and one of the main forces behind the Connecticut Young Writers Program. He has taught writing at Western Connecticut State University, Northwestern Connecticut Community College and the University of Hartford, wrote a column for the Connecticut Law Tribune and blogs at http://cooljustice.blogspot.com.

Thibault’s reporting tackled police brutality in Hartford in the early 1990s, the Young & Rubicam “Come Back to Jamaica” kickback scandal, the financial irregularities of the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, the cover-up of a hit-and-run death in New London and the 1996 bombing at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta.

He has also worked as a private investigator, is a licensed professional boxing judge, a cancer survivor and the author of several books, including, “History of the Connecticut State Police” in 2003 and “Law & Justice in Everyday Life” in 2002.

Last year, Thibault led a series of free public workshops at The Register Citizen Newsroom Cafe in Torrington on the Freedom of Information Act in Connecticut.