Massachusetts Defense Bar Comes to Judge’s Defense

Last week, the Boston Globe published an article about Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley’s attack on Boston Municipal Court presiding Judge, Raymond Dougan. The article portrayed Dougan as overly defense-friendly and in the words of Conley, “a clearly biased judge who ignores the law and threatens public safety.” Conley mounted an unprecedented attack on the judge, having each of his Assistant District Attorneys who stands before the judge in a criminal case ask his honor to recuse himself on the grounds that he cannot be fair. (As a former prosecutor, I can say that this puts the young ADA in an extremely uncomfortable and difficult position). Conley took his cause even further when he asked the Judicial Conduct Commission and the Supreme Judicial Court to prevent Dougan from hearing criminal cases altogether.

Within days, the Massachusetts Defense Bar appropriately fired back, outraged by DA Conley’s recent actions, which they call an attempt to intimidate judges.

Some judges are prosecutor-friendly, some judges are defense-friendly. That’s the nature of our criminal justice system. Judges are expected to use their legal education, life experience, legal experience, and judicial experience to apply the law and ensure justice. Judges are human and will differ in the manner in which they handle and rule on cases. Case law is created when judges issue “Opinions.” The extreme position that Judge Dougan is biased and a threat to our public safety could also be said of several judges that Massachusetts defense attorneys would love to remove from the bench; but we understand that it is not our job, nor our right, to do so.