In a process where the watchwords should be honesty and justice, the rejection by the Governor’s Council of attorney Michael McCarthy for a seat on the bench of the Southern Berkshire District Court is, instead, a grave injustice perpetrated not only against McCarthy, but also against all citizens of the Commonwealth, who expect and deserve competent, fair-minded judges in the courtroom when they appear for their "day in court," for whatever reason.
Governor’s Council meetings are sparsely attended, if at all, by interested observers, with the exception of nominees’ family members and those giving testimony at hearings. Consequently, any attempt after the fact to determine what actually happened at these sessions often becomes reduced to a "he said/they said" scenario. We don’t need to base our knowledge of the truth on self-serving snippets in response to media questions, in an attempt by some to justify their "no" votes.
Patrick McCabe, a onetime candidate for the District 2 seat on the council, has attended all council meetings since late January, 2012, and provides digitally recorded streaming audio of each session, from gavel to gavel, on his website, www.patrickmccabegovernorscouncil.com.
While McCabe’s offerings are not the "official" record of the meetings, I don’t believe that the accuracy or veracity of his work has ever been challenged. I encourage you to listen to the questions from the councilors and the answers from McCarthy and then judge for yourselves if you believe that there was anything said that would justify the dissenters, choosing by their "no" votes to disregard the strong supportive testimony, in person and in writing, from well-respected sitting judges and court officials, among others, on behalf of Mike McCarthy.
Once on the site, you can scroll down the left hand column to "Nominees" and then down to "Michael J. McCarthy" where links for the two hearings will appear. On the "first hearing," scroll down to the segment labeled "Christopher Ianella" and hear the hypothetical question posed regarding the inexperienced prosecutor and listen carefully to Mike McCarthy’s answer:
"Judges [hypothetical judges, not himself] have the ability to drop hints if they think it’s appropriate, but it’s a difficult judgment call to make because the commonwealth has the burden and the judge can’t suddenly try the case for the commonwealth."
Based on this answer, the constant repetition of the disputed allegation, throughout the hearings and in the media, that McCarthy would assist struggling new prosecutors from the bench, is perpetuating a misquote at best, or is a sign of a much deeper agenda on the part of the dissenters at worst.
I call your attention to the meetings held on Jan. 9 and Feb. 13, as well, where councilors conducted conversations among themselves regarding the McCarthy nomination.
Councilors casting the eventual "no" votes also spoke against postponing the Feb. 13 vote -- which would have given the newly-elected councilors time to "get up to speed" on this nomination -- and also refused to consider utilizing the written transcript of the McCabe audios to clarify any differences in what various members believed they had heard in the Sept. 19 meeting.
That and the blatantly political questions and comments that were directed by some at McCarthy in the first hearing lead me to believe that the minds of the dissenters were made up long before the Feb. 6 hearing was ever gaveled in, and that the real reason for rejecting this nominee was much deeper and darker than a simple: "What you think you said isn’t what I know I heard."
J. Bruce Broyles