A bit of serendipity dropped on our doorsteps thanks to Mayor Walsh. He has inadvertently lifted the lid on the cozy but sordid relationship between the office of U.S. Attorney Ortiz and the Boston Globe. You have heard me tell of it over the years; but without subpoena power I have never been able to produce a smoking gun. My evidence was always circumstantial .
Now due to the mayor’s reluctance to disclose anything about the grand jury subpoenas his office received from the federal prosecutors the Globe went to court seeking an order from a judge requiring Mayor Walsh to disclose the identity of those subpoenaed and to disclose and the list of items requested by the subpoenas. I have already speculated that the Globe must already have that information which it is biting at the bit to release. It has been unable to publish its stories because it will clearly demonstrate that Ortiz’s office has again leaked secret matters to the Globe.
I am at a loss how the Globe got before a superior court judge so quickly and was able to have a hearing and receive an order with such alacrity. I never thought that right was available to the public other than through the assistance of the attorney general or a district attorney. But then it has been years since I dealt with the public records law so maybe it has changed.
I will warn you not to expect you would be treated the same way. Try going into the superior court with a complaint that you could not get a public record. You would have to wait until the cows came home before you even had a hearing. The judges like the U.S. attorney seem to roll out the red carpet when they are told “Here Comes the Globe.” What a system of justice!
Anyway, the Globe got an expeditious hearing by a witting judge who came down on the side of the Globe. Judge Tochka of the Massachusetts Superior Court ruled Marty Walsh must disclose to the Globe the identity of the people subpoenaed by the federal government and the identity of the documents subpoenaed pursuant to any duces tecum subpoenas.
Where does the serendipity come in? Judge Tochka added one caveat to the order: If the federal prosecutor objects then City Hall does not have to comply with the order.
The federal grand jury rules provide: “Unless these rules provide otherwise, the following persons must not disclose a matter occurring before the grand jury: . . . (vi) an attorney for the government;”
Now we know the subpoenas that have been issued on the mayor have come from the grand jury. These relate to matters before the grand jury. Obviously the federal prosecutors are attorneys for the government. They are not allowed to disclose what occurs before the grand jury.
I am not sure that Judge Tochka knew that the order has put Ortiz’s office on the spot. Obviously if Ortiz is on the level she is bound by the rule relating to the grand jury. She must object to the mayor releasing information about the subpoenas. The grand jury rule regarding secrecy demands it. Otherwise she will be disclosing information before the grand jury.
Ortiz as we know has been overly anxious to do the Globe’s bidding. History has shown us how she has diligently followed the Globe’s lead in all matters. She has sat back in this case and watched the Globe try to extort this information from the mayor. She was comfortable believing she would be able to say she did not release the subpoena information but the mayor did. He, of course, would have the right to do it if he wanted but he rightly refuses.
Now the worm has turned. It is squarely in Ortiz’s lap to decide whether to disclose it the information. Does she serve the people or the Globe? Will she follow the rule of law or the demands of the Globe?
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