Cramer & Anderson partner wins Lawyer of Year Award
Cramer & Anderson Partner Daniel E. Casagrande has been named a 2019 Marvin J. Glink Private Practice Local Government Lawyer of the Year by the International Municipal Lawyers Association.
The prestigious award recognizes an attorney in private practice who represents a local government and “exhibits those qualities that made Marvin Glink one of the truly remarkable lawyers working on behalf of public clients,” according to IMLA, which says the award “seeks to recognize a practitioner who has provided outstanding service to the public and who possesses an exemplary reputation in the legal community, the highest of ethical standards and who is devoted to mentoring young lawyers and educating lawyers in local government law.”
Cramer & Anderson has offices throughout Litchfield County, including in New Milford.
Attorney Casagrande was notified of the award July 29. It will be presented at a luncheon during IMLA's 84th Annual Conference, being held Sept. 18-22 in Atlanta. Registration remains open.
“I am humbled and honored by this award,” Attorney Casagrande said. “IMLA is North America’s premier resource for municipal lawyers. My career in representing Connecticut municipalities has been continually enriched by my association with the outstanding practitioners I have met at IMLA’s excellent seminars, as well as the invaluable research tools made available by its devoted staff.”
“I will continue spreading the word that the challenging and rewarding practice of municipal law is without question enhanced by membership in IMLA,” he added.
As part of his distinguished career spanning nearly 40 years, Attorney Casagrande has served as outside Assistant Corporation Counsel to the City of Danbury from 1990 through the present, and he and his Cramer & Anderson Municipal Law colleagues represent the Towns of New Milford, Kent, Cornwall, Bridgewater, Canaan, Sharon, and Washington.
Additionally, Attorney Casagrande is an ex-officio member of the Connecticut Association of Municipal Attorneys board, and served as CAMA president of from 2011 to 2013.
The Glink Award nomination called for three letters of endorsement, which include one from Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.
“Attorney Casagrande exemplifies an IMLA Honoree in that he has led several litigation efforts that have made Danbury a safer place for all,” the mayor wrote.
“Attorney Casagrande is well known and respected in our community He has enthusiastically worked to improve our city's safety and quality of life ….,” he added.
“I have had the privilege of knowing and working directly with Dan for over thirty years,” wrote Les Pinter, managing attorney and deputy corporation counsel in Danbury, in another letter of endorsement.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, I can tell you that he is in the narrowest class of the finest, most skilled, creative, erudite, professional and honorable attorneys in any state, and especially in our field of municipal law here in Connecticut,” Pinter wrote.
The Glink Award criteria focus on work done in 2018, a year in which Attorney Casagrande demonstrated his vision and leadership in addressing incursions that threaten the safety of a community’s residents, their health and well-being, quality of life, or the environment around them.
On behalf of Danbury, Attorney Casagrande led an ongoing 2018-19 effort to crack down on massage parlors and spa therapy establishments that function as fronts for prostitution—through regulatory action, a new ordinance, rather than police enforcement.
An Ad Hoc committee is reviewing the draft ordinance, with City Council approval the next step.
In 2018, Attorney Casagrande also trained his deep understanding of the land-use regulatory process on the allegedly improper Connecticut Siting Council approval of a massive 20 MW solar power project threatening gross environmental harm to 163 acres of Candlewood Mountain in the Town of New Milford.
The Siting Council issued a declaratory ruling saying no Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need was required for the solar “farm” just three days before the effective date of a new state law that would have required denial of the petition because the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP had told the Siting Council the project would have a materially adverse effect on core forestland.
Attorney Casagrande represents the citizens group Rescue Candlewood Mountain in its ongoing administrative appeal of the Siting Council’s declaratory ruling, and was brought in by the Town of New Milford to fight for the best interests of the municipality and its residents.
The attorney filed a petition early this year on behalf of New Milford asking the DEEP to order a stricter permitting process for the project’s proposed Stormwater Pollution Control Plan (SWPCP)—and a second petition asking the Connecticut Siting Council to deny the proposed Development and Management Plan (DMP) for the project.
In March, in direct response to Attorney Casagrande’s nuanced arguments, DEEP Commissioner Katherine S. Dykes issued an extraordinary rebuke to the solar project’s developer when she rejected stormwater management plan certification, citing substantial flaws, and questioned “if Candlewood Solar will make any resubmission … .”
Efforts such as challenging the Connecticut Siting Council contributed to Attorney Casagrande being honored with the Connecticut Law Tribune’s inaugural “Giant Slayer” award in 2018.
A signature example of his “giant slaying” is the 1998 Union Carbide appeal of the municipal tax assessment valuation of its Danbury headquarters, equating to a $307 million market value.
As outside Assistant Corporation Counsel, Attorney Casagrande represented the City of Danbury, and Union Carbide retained one of the best tax lawyers in the state, if not the country. The trial court upheld the City’s valuation after a 24-day trial, Union Carbide appealed, and Attorney Casagrande ultimately prevailed before the Connecticut Supreme Court, safeguarding $10 million in tax revenue for the city.
Because of that success, the Town of Waterford retained Attorney Casagrande when Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Inc., owner of the Millstone Nuclear Power Station, appealed the town assessor’s $1.2 billion valuation of Millstone for tax purposes.
Attorney Casagrande went up against a law firm with more than 400 attorneys in offices from Boston to Washington, D.C., and after a four-year battle and a 24-day bench trial the court preserved 93 percent of the town’s valuation. It’s believed to be the largest assessment appeal litigated in Connecticut. “If the town lost that case, it could have gone bankrupt,” Attorney Casagrande has said.
Attorney Casagrande, was nominated for the Glink Award by his colleague, Cramer & Anderson Partner Randy DiBella, who also practices municipal law.