Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

BOSTON’S DISTRICT ATTORNEY THROWS HIS PROSECUTORIAL HAT INTO THE POLITICAL RING

When I heard about it on WMPR earlier this week, I just knew that this was the proper story to end the three-blog-series now being completed in Attorney Sam’s Take.

We have often discussed the fact that the post of district attorney, in whatever county, is a political post. I have opined that, as a result, law and order is greatly effected by political aspiration. It should not be a surprise, therefore, that the result is that fear of bad press and resulting hypocrisy is what reigns supreme when it comes to “law and order”.

Well, it seems that it is now time for one such prosecutorial politician to make his move in his career.

Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley has thrown his proverbial hat into Boston’s Mayoral race.

Ever the politician, Mr. Conley appeared at ease as he shook hands, chatted, and smiled for picture-takers. While he is often recognized at these types of events, his presence here, one day after he officially announced his candidacy, grabbed much more attention than usual.

Candidate Conley admits that the jump to the office of mayor is not a sudden decision. “Throughout the last several years, I’ve thought that if and when Mayor Menino were to decide to step down, it would be something I would consider,” he explained as he toured the room.

Apparently, when he heard of Mayor Menino’s decision, Candidate Conley had some “moments of reflection and thought”, he said. Over the Easter holiday weekend, he says he had pretty much made up his mind.

When chatting with Mayor Menino, Candidate Conley, he sought the elder statesman’s advice. The advise was purportedly to get out and meet as many people as possible, to let them know what you stand for. Of course, Candidate Conley recognizes that the mayoral race is crowded and that campaigning while holding down his job as the county’s top prosecutor will be a challenge, but one he is prepared for.

“I’ll stand out by the power of my ideas first and foremost,” he said.

Sure. It’s only criminal justice after all….!

Attorney Sam’s Take On Prosecutorial Politicians

First of all, let me tell you that, while it may seem like it, this is not an indictment of District Attorney Conley (no pun intended).

The purpose of my blog in general is to inform the public of the realities of the criminal justice system. This three-part series reflects some parts of the system which, when taken together, should cause some concern.

The office of the district attorney is a political stepping-stone. Mr. Conley is not the first to show us this. I saw it first-hand in Brooklyn. As such, decisions are made, at least partially, based upon how such policies will play to the general public and the media. Regardless of the issues involved, we know that the general public assumes that one who is accused of a crime is guilty. Therefore, the way to garner positive media results is to appear “tough” on crime.

As the politics of the situation take hold, this is why assistant district attorneys, following the “policy” of the office often seem to completely disregard their pledge to “do Justice” and trade that idea in for getting a conviction which will please the front office.

I invite you to await the rhetoric wars which will surely come shortly in this race. Count how many times Candidate Conley mentions his heroic days as Suffolk County’s heroic crime fighter.

How do you think that would play if Conley had a reputation of being more careful and deliberate with concerns of the humanity behind the criminal allegations?

Meanwhile, other prosecutorial minded politicians pass statutes which greatly impact the criminal justice system. They gain favor by creating Draconian criminal sentences that, by light of day, make little sense. Criminal sentences for drug offenders make sentences for other, more violent, crime look like a trip to summer camp.

Bail?

Please….we are talking about drug dealers here. High bail! Sometimes no bail!

“But, Sam, don’t you think that makes sense? After all, aren’t these vicious criminals?”

Some are, some aren’t. Like with other crimes. However, when push comes to shove, our law enforcers know this. This is why a drug dealing suspect is left alone when he flees because “We can always get him.”

When he either was or is arrested, do you think the Commonwealth will have any problem asking that he be held without bail because he is, after all, a threat to society?

You may be one of the lucky ones. Maybe neither you nor anyone you love will ever be in the cross-hairs of the criminal justice system…guilty or innocent. I will tell you, however, that there is no way that you are immune to it. You are not safe. There are many folks who thought that they were…and ended up being at the wrong end of a disagreement, angered the wrong person or simply were at the wrong place at the wrong time.

Putting politicians in charge of what happens next when the office is simply a stepping stone to “higher office” almost mandates the insanity that we are left with.

And the popular sentiment to solve the insanity? Throw more folks into jail for longer period of times.

Other states apparently have learned the folly of this approach. We, as studies show, have not.

But, hey, at least it gives Don Quixote types like me something to rant about.

For the original story upon which this blog was based, please go to http://www.boston.com/politicalintelligence/2013/04/04/suffolk-daniel-conley-starts-his-mayoral-campaign-logan-airport-east-boston/SBmiCjHcKbNgwug1qY12WM/story.html

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