Boston Globe Exposes Middlesex District Attorney’s Office’s “Dysfunction”

The Boston Globe published an article today detailing the mismanagement and horrible morale that exists in the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.  The article could have damaging political consequences for District Attorney Marian Ryan, who is being challenged in the upcoming democratic primary by the well-respected Michael Sullivan, who has extensive prosecutorial and management experience and who currently serves as the elected clerk of courts.

The Globe article quotes many anonymous former prosecutors who worried they were losing credibility with judges by asking for bail or detention on every domestic case to avoid being criticized in the media, a policy that was enacted at the highest levels of the District Attorney’s Office.  Their startling confessions confirmed what court observers have long believed: assistant district attorneys were being instructed to request bail and detention for political reasons and to avoid receiving critical medial attention.  Attorney Chris Spring raised this argument in court months ago.  His argument can be viewed here, and a follow up newspaper account of his argument can be read here.  The Middlesex District Attorney’s Office policy of seeking bail or detention on every domestic case is an unacceptable abuse of the bail statute.

In addition to the destructive institutional policies, the Globe article reports on upper management’s abusive and demeaning behavior toward subordinates.  Former prosecutor Lisa McGovern, an experienced attorney who prosecuted many high profile defendants including Jared Remy, told the newspaper that the leadership at the DA’s Office treats its employees in a harsh, demeaning fashion. There is widespread consensus within the ranks of the District Attorney’s Office that there is a general lack of respect toward assistant district attorneys.  According to the Globe, since Ryan was appointed to the top position in the office, more than a quarter of employees have left.  The Globe interviewed a dozen people who have left the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office during the last year, and they all described a “culture of dysfunction” at the office.

For decades, the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office was the gold standard.  Its reputation has been damaged by the aftermath of the Jared Remy case.  The question remains whether the voters will decide in the upcoming election that new leadership is necessary.