PROBATION TRIAL BRIEFS - WEDNESDAY, JULY 9, 2014

STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE

DEFENSE TAKES LICK AT PROSECUTION WITH LOLLIPOP QUIP

Having spent multiple hours accusing him of engaging in the same type of patronage that landed three former probation officials at the defense table, attorneys finished their cross-examination of Chief Justice Robert Mulligan with a rhetorical flair Wednesday. "You handed out court officer jobs like lollipops," defense attorney John Amabile claimed, borrowing a phrase prosecutor Fred Wyshak used to describe how former Probation Commissioner John O'Brien dispensed positions at a new electronic monitoring facility. Wyshak objected to Amabile's question and the former head of the Trial Court left the stand immediately afterwards without answering. O'Brien hired people to the electronic monitoring program with recommendations from lawmakers but without interviewing the applicants before they were hired, witnesses have testified. Though temporary appointments can be hired without a formal interview process, Mulligan said he expected everyone hired would be brought in for a conversation beforehand, and knew of no time "where someone's been hired without somebody talking to them." "Did you forget about Elizabeth Cerda?" defense attorney Stellio Sinnis shot back, referring to the wife of former Rep. Peter Koutoujian, who was hired to a new position as legislative liaison for the Judiciary without an interview after telling court officials she wanted more time for her family.


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Mulligan said he had talked with Cerda before her hiring, which occurred the same date as her application. - A. Metzger/SHNS

JUDGE TO JURORS: KEEP YOUR "MINDS SUSPENDED"

The judge in the probation trial reiterated his instruction for jurors to keep their "minds suspended," after one of the jurors submitted a request to have a particular transcript ready when they begin deliberations. "I emphasize that you are not to discuss the substance of the case," Judge William Young said. He said the last witness is as important as all the other witnesses. While the prosecution could wrap its case as soon as Thursday, the defense also plans to present a case. Defense attorneys would not say who they plan to call to the witness stand. - A. Metzger/SHNS

O'FLAHERTY WARNED REP PROBATION $$$ TRANSFER FACED "TOUGH ROAD"

Rep. Garrett Bradley of Hingham filed an amendment to the fiscal year 2006 budget that would have restored authority for Chief Justice of Administration and Management Robert Mulligan to move funds in and out of the probation department, and was warned ahead of time the provision was unlikely to be adopted. "He felt that it was going to face a tough road," Bradley said, of a conversation he had with Eugene O'Flaherty, who was then chairman of the Judiciary Committee. The amendment was not adopted. Prosecutors have alleged that former Probation Commissioner John O'Brien was able to protect his budget from Mulligan's meddling as part of a "quid pro quo" with Rep. Robert DeLeo, who was then chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means. DeLeo has denied that allegation. Mulligan said O'Brien objected to him removing money from probation's budget to pay for other Trial Court departments. "He said, 'For the record, I object.' Well there is no record; we were sitting in my office," Mulligan said Wednesday. Defense attorney Stellio Sinnis drew out of Bradley, a Hingham Democrat, that the Hingham District Court has regularly faced potential closure, a decision where the chief justice would have considerable clout. "Did you view it as a conflict of interest to be doing his bidding?" Sinnis asked. Bradley said he did not, explaining, "The Hingham court closure issue has been ongoing and is ongoing to this day." Judge William Young did not allow Sinnis to inquire into Bradley's wife, Heather Bradley, a judge on the Plymouth District Court. The lawmaker's wife was confirmed by the Governor's Council on a 5 to 4 vote in February 2011 after former Lt. Gov. Tim Murray played the rare role of tiebreaker. Bradley's trip to the stand was brief. No lawmakers have faced charges in the case against three former probation officials for rigging hiring. - A. Metzger/SHNS

PROSECUTION BIDS TO ADMIT SPONSOR SHEETS AS EVIDENCE

Prominent members of the House and Senate along with fixtures of the Judiciary appear multiple times in a list of probation sponsorships prosecutors are attempting to admit as evidence. Former Probation Commissioner John O'Brien and two of his former deputies, Elizabeth Tavares and William Burke III, are accused of rigging hiring to benefit politically connected candidates and aiming to win favorable treatment for the department by the applicants' sponsors. The lists maintained by the probation department matched job applicants with their sponsors, and prosecutors are hoping to submit a consolidated version to make it easier for the jury to digest. "Nick D's Daughter" is on the list, backed by Rep. Tom Petrolati, as is Joe Dooley, listed as "Judge Dooley's son," and a candidate identified only as "son" of Judge Pomarole. Members of both parties appear on the lengthy list reflecting recommendations from various officials. Former legislative liaison Ed Ryan said O'Brien would consult sponsor sheets before deciding who should be hired, and then direct lower-level officials in the hiring process to ensure they emerge as the top candidates through the interview process. [Link: http://www.statehousenews.com/content/docs/2014/07-09ProbationSponsors.pdf]

- A. Metzger/SHNS