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TaShun Bowden-Lewis, Connecticut’s First Black Chief Public Defender, Fired Over Misconduct Allegations

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TaShun Bowden-Lewis, Connecticut's First Black Chief Public Defender, Fired Over Misconduct Allegations

TaShun Bowden-Lewis, Connecticut’s first Black chief public defender, was dismissed following months of misconduct allegations and disputes with the agency’s oversight body.

The oversight commission terminated Bowden-Lewis on June 4 after two years in the position. 

This decision came after 16 misconduct allegations, including racism, mistreatment of employees, and improper use of email access. 

During public meetings in April, Bowden denied all allegations and accused the Public Defender Services Commission of interfering with her authority. 

Despite her defence, the board unanimously voted for her removal.

Official Statements

“Miss Bowden-Lewis, we recognize that this is a very difficult time for everyone, including you, the division and the commission,” said a commission member, Palmer, after the vote. He expressed hope for better days ahead for both Bowden-Lewis and the division.

Intense disagreements began in early 2024, leading to Bowden-Lewis’s suspension on February 9. 

Palmer cited an investigation into behaviour that could warrant disciplinary action. The board also noted her repeated claims of discrimination and retaliation but did not factor them into their decision. 

They emphasized the importance of protecting the right to oppose discrimination.

The Connecticut Public Defender Attorneys Union praised the decision: “Members have fulfilled our vital public mission despite the controversy and dysfunction that we have experienced during the last two years. 

We look forward to working productively with a new Chief Public Defender.”

Bowden-Lewis’s Response

Bowden declined to comment, but her lawyer, Thomas Bucci, called the vote an “unlawful removal.”

 He argued that the process was skewed and unfair, aiming to remove a competent director while protecting the institution’s integrity.

Several supporters felt Bowden-Lewis should remain in her position, arguing she was never given a fair chance to succeed. 

Some Black and brown employees described the move as undermining her goals, with Bowden-Lewis calling it “hyper scrutinizing and undermining” of her decisions.

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