I suppose it has always been fair to say that some prosecutors are not the brightest bulbs on the marquis; but to think that a group of them have no light at all going on upstairs is really dismaying. What else can you think after hearing of the actions of the assistant district attorneys in Plymouth County who were allegedly sending racist emails among themselves? If this happened, how can you be satisfied that any of those minorities who were prosecuted by these attorneys received a fair trial or disposition?
The Boston Globe reported on this in March. That’s also the same newspaper that wrongly criticized DA Cruz for his attempt to get evidence against murderers. While the latter story has no legs, the former one about ADAs thinking there is something funny about racist jokes or pictures should be taken seriously. We have enough problems with the idea that blacks are excluded from leading roles in the justice system without having to think that they will be prosecuted by prosecutors who pass racist jokes among themselves.
The Globe story tells how an obtuse former prosecutor in the Plymouth DA’s office who is now a prosecutor in the Bristol DA’s office planned to testify for a defendant. To prevent her testimony, DA Cruz gave to the Judge Richard J. Chin who was presiding over the trial where she was to testify copies of her emails that included “jokes involving Asian stereotypes, a seemingly mocking attitude toward a crime victim, and a photo of a child in a Ku Klux Klan costume.” DA Cruz labeled them, “disturbing and disgusting.”
The obtuse former prosecutor said they were only intended as humor. Hello! She is apparently living in the good old Jim Crow days if she thinks that is a justifiable explanation. She should ask the people who were portrayed in her emails if they think they are funny.
What makes this so bad, so very bad, is that these emails were shared among a group of prosecutors, some suggest as many as twelve. None apparently had the sense to suggest racist jokes were out-of-line or to admonished the others. I really don’t understand how that could be.
Judge Chin was presiding over the case where the emails surfaced. He noted correctly, they “reflect directly on the employees of the Plymouth County District Attorney’s office to perform their duties.” He wrongly imputes blame on the “leadership to effectively supervise their employees” when there is no system set up to police emails which is the way it should be. After all, we are dealing with members of the bar. We do expect a certain level of behavior from them.
Unfortunately Judge Chin goes widely off the mark. He complains about the misuse of “computers financed by taxpayer dollars.” Come on judge that’s sending everyone on a wild goose chase. The only thing relevant is that you may have prosecutors with racist attitudes prosecuting people they are demeaning. That is the evil here. Everything else is chaff in the wind.
The Plymouth County prosecutor said the reason he brought the emails forward was the obtuse prosecutor sent and received: “racist e-mails against African-Americans and others, . . .” so her planned testimony may be biased. Yes, that may be true Plymouth prosecutor. But if these emails are “disturbing and disgusting” what action have you taken against the other ADAs in your office who were involved in sending and receiving them?
To make matters worse the Bristol DA where the obtuse prosecutor now works pipes in. The racist emails do not seem to bother him. He apparently recognizes they are bad. His remedy for that is to ask the judge to hide them. He asked Judge Chin to keep them confidential.
Judge Chin felt compelled to release the emails to the public. He stated is important to see “how African-American males are being treated by law enforcement.” That’s true judge, but beyond letting us see them do you plan to do anything about them? Let it continue on?
The discovery and release of the emails came about because an assistant DA who was fired by the Plymouth DA and now works for the Worcester DA is suing Cruz. The obtuse DA who also worked for Cruz has joined in the suit of the fired DA. She works for the Bristol DA.
I’m sure Cruz is pleased as punch that two lawyers he gave jobs to are suing him. As you may imagine the Massachusetts DA world is in a little bit of an uproar. Cruz who knew nothing about the emails and who released them to the judge is now being treated as the bad guy because his motives in doing so were less than honorable.
Tomorrow I will write about Joe Fitzgerald in the Herald wrongly picking on the black leadership for staying silent about the protest outside the mayor’s house. If he wanted to complain about the black pols and preachers not speaking out this is where he should do it. How can they remain silent if prosecutors have an animus toward their people?
What about the judges on the Supreme Judicial Court? Is there anything more detrimental to the system of justice than to have racist prosecutors? Worried about the Register of Probate and the Commissioner of Probation they appointed investigators to look into the matter. Here when we deal with something at the heart of the justice system, the possible racist attitude of prosecutors toward defendants and even witnesses, they sit on their hands.
Black lives matter not only on the street but in the courtrooms. We must ensure that in the one area over which we can control racism is chased away. This is something that needs a thorough washing.