Legendary Former New Haven Chief Public Defender Found Dead in NY

NEW HAVEN, CT — The Connecticut legal community and beyond is mourning the death of former New Haven Chief Public Defender Thomas Ullmann, 67, who was found dead while hiking in the Adirondack Mountains in New York, the New Haven Register’s Luther Turmelle reports.

The body was found outside of Indian Lake, New York on a hiking trail. Ullmann’s cause of death has not yet been released. The Register reports that Ullmann retired last year after a 32-year-career in the New Haven Public Defender’s office.

According to his Yale University biography, Ullmann was a Visiting Clinical Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School. He joined the New Haven Public Defender’s office in 1985 and was named chief public defender in 1992.

"In his role, Ullmann provides indigent clients with legal defenses in major felony cases in the towns and cities that comprise the New Haven Judicial District. He was recognized as a "Champion of Liberty" by the Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyers Association in 2011 and for "Distinguished Service to the Bar" by the Connecticut Law Tribune in 1995," according to his Yale University biography.

Sad day with news that Tom Ullmann has died in a hiking accident. New Haven chief public defender was a good lawyer and a greater man. Fought hard for his clients but always fairly. Admired his tenacity as well as his sense of humor.— Dave Altimari (@davealtimari) April 14, 2018

When Ullmann retired, the New Haven Independent’s Paul Bass wrote an in-depth story about his legacy.

According to the New Haven Independent, Ullmann "made a mark as a passionate advocate for indigent accused criminals and as a dogged opponent of the death penalty. In both day-to-day and headline-grabbing cases, he won the freedom of the falsely accused and spared the life of one high-profile killer."

Ullmann’s biggest case was his defense of Steven J. Hayes in the 2007 Cheshire home invasion case where Hayes and Joshua Komisarjevsky murdered Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, Michaela, 11, and Hayley, 17.

Saddened to hear that longtime New Haven public defender Thomas Ullmann has died. Ullmann retired in 2017 after a long and distinguished career defending the indigent. #RIP https://t.co/OdPns55j4e— DFA New Haven (@DFANewHaven) April 14, 2018

For an in-depth look at Ulmann’s illustrious career, read the full New Haven Independent story here.

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