Running Scared: Speaker DeLeo’s Request and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Pusillanimous Behavior

Boston Exteriors And LandmarksIf only Dorothy Gale’s Wizard were around to go up to the John Adams courthouse. He could pin on the chest of the judges in the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) a medal with the words courage on it. Then, perhaps, they might see how cowardly they have become.

Here us what is going on. The Boston Globe received a transcript of the sworn testimony of House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo who testified before independent counsel Paul Ware during the investigation of the state probation office. Ware was appointed on May 24, 2010, by the SJC to conduct that investigation. The Globe wrote an article telling how it had the transcript and suggesting that DeLeo made statements to Ware that were contradicted by other law makers and officials.

The problem is that DeLeo’s testimony was under seal. I assume he gave the testimony with the promise that it would be held in confidence. The Globe should not have had it in its possession. It was leaked by someone in the same manner that William Bulger’s testimony before a federal grand jury was also leaked to the Globe.

DeLeo was outraged. He wrote to the Chief Justice of the SJC, Ralph D. Gants, asking it to conduct its own investigation into how the Globe got a transcript of his testimony. His letter stated: “I hereby formally request that the Supreme Court exercise its inherent constitutional and statutory authority of superintendence to formally investigate and identify the party or parties responsible for the knowing and malicious violation of the Court’s Order of Impoundment and to hold such party or parties accountable for their actions, including referral to the appropriate authorities,”

Smart move by DeLeo. He does have some clout. Judges are always looking for pay raises and other perquisites. To get them they have to stay on the good side of the Speaker. His letter put them in the position where they had to respond, otherwise, they would have put it in the circular file.

Now here comes the strange part. We saw that when questions were raised about the happenings in the probation department that the SJC appointed a special counsel to look into them. You would expect that it would do the same thing for DeLeo. If you thought that, you would be wrong.

Justice Gants wrote back after two weeks on November 9, 2015: “the SJC has asked the US Department of Justice, state Attorney General Maura Healey’s office, and the State Ethics Commission to look into the leak and inform us of the results of such inquiry. We do not know whether any of these agencies disseminated your transcript or, if so, to whom. Depending on who provided a copy of your transcript to the Boston Globe … the release of your transcript may involve a violation of professional ethics.” The SJC also said it asked Paul Ware to: “inform the Court of the procedures in place in his office for securing the confidentiality of the [testimony] transcript.”

It is insulting to and disrespectful of Speaker DeLeo for the SJC to respond like this. You don’t investigate things by asking people to investigate themselves. (The FBI does it. It has found 100% of the actions by its agents in shooting people were justified.)

There needs to be an independent prosecutor who can take the following simple steps. The Globe reporters,  Andrea Estes and Milton J. Valencia, who wrote the story should be brought before a grand jury and asked where they got the transcript. Valencia, is the Globe reporter who covers the federal court so that in itself should give a good lead to the identity of the culprit. If they refuse to talk, immunize them and if they refuse again, then, like what was done with Catherine Greig, file criminal contempt charges against them.  All the people with access to the transcript should be identified and questioned.

I hope the Speaker does not get duped by such a cowardly response. He should demand a special prosecutor. The idea that you ask Carmen Ortiz’s office to look into this matter when the leak could very well have come from her office as it did in the past is close to ludicrous. Her office has been playing ball with the Globe for years. Her office will stonewall any inquiry. However, since the attorneys in her office who belong to the Massachusetts  bar need their ticket to operate, their testimony can be obtained.

3 thoughts on “Running Scared: Speaker DeLeo’s Request and the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s Pusillanimous Behavior

  1. Looks to me like DeLeo is in the clear. I don’t believe his testimony would have been given to the Globe if there were any plans to use it in a criminal prosecution. I think the feds meant to embarrass DeLeo, and perhaps they hoped the publicity would stir up a new witness.

  2. Behind the so called “leaks” there will be a nexus to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Every election cycle AUSA Fred Wyshak and his colleagues use their “press organ” operator- reporters in the Boston Globe to run smear campaigns on the legislature leadership in violation of the Hatch Act.

    The Attorney General of Massachusetts and U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board has jurisdiction over Hatch Act violations and a history with Mr. Wyshak and the Globe. The MSPB Chairman has already made a referral on same to it’s IG. They can remove Wyshak and the responsible parties from federal service and forfeit their pensions.

  3. The Globe story had several professional defects. It meandered on endlessly. So there’s just no way it could engage the ordinary reader. And at some point you’re forced to think, why are you telling us this? Information that should have been high in the story is buried at the bottom, to wit: DeLeo was named as an unindicted coconspiritor and may even now be under investigation by the feds. I’m not sure how this happened but their piece reads more like a memo to the prosecutors than a story written for the Globe’s reading public.

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