Martha Coakley runs for governor in Massachusetts

by Walter Olson on September 17, 2013

The Massachusetts attorney general is now running for governor of the state after losing a Senate run three and a half years ago, so this makes a good occasion to revamp a 2010 post slightly so as to remind readers of Coakley’s central role in the Amirault travesty of justice, described so well by Dorothy Rabinowitz here. Earlier on the Amirault case here and here; on Coakley’s prosecutorial record here.  More: John Stossel and (via Memeorandum): Bronwyn’s Harbor, No Quarter (citing views of Jeralyn Merritt/TalkLeft); Dan McLaughlin, RedStateDan Riehl (Woodward, Souza cases). Yet more: on Coakley’s offer to a deal to one defendant on condition that the experienced defense counsel handling the deal agree not to represent a second defendant in future, see Scott Greenfield (characterizing the move as “a deliberate effort to undermine the constitutional right to counsel”), Kenneth Anderson/Volokh, and John Steele/Legal Ethics Forum. In 2010 we wondered whether Coakley’s Senate-race nosedive under critical public and press scrutiny amounted to the first time a Massachusetts prosecutor had paid a price for being wrong in the Amirault episode.

{ 3 comments }

1 wfjag 09.17.13 at 10:59 am

Interesting that an article on false memories just appeared on Slate:

“I Could Have Sworn … An interview with false-memory expert Elizabeth Loftus.” http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/new_scientist/2013/09/elizabeth_loftus_interview_false_memory_research_on_eyewitnesses_child_abuse.html

2 Hugo S. Cunningham 09.17.13 at 4:00 pm

Bob Chatelle, a long-time activist against Fells Acres and similar travesties, condemns Coakley’s gubernatorial run:
http://bobchatelle.net/once-again-we-must-stop-martha-coakley

From Chatelle’s article
[...]
>Martha Coakley also joined in an amicus brief that advocates for total immunity for prosecutors in a case of two African American men from Iowa, having spent 25 years of their lives in prison, who’d been appealing their unjust conviction on the grounds they’d been framed by prosecutors for a murder they did not commit. In November, 2009, the case was before the U.S. Supreme Court. Coakley is a firm believer in absolute prosecutorial immunity — an immense obstacle to justice.
[end of quote]

I commented:
Coakley is also one of the State attorneys general who petitioned Congress to gut Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, broadly exempting web hosts from prosecution for content posted by users (There are a handful of reasonable exceptions, eg:on copyright infringement.) Coakley’s game plan would effectively close off Internet comments to all but the wealthy and the well-connected.
http://www.popehat.com/2013/08/05/law-enforcement-wants-to-weaken-section-230-what-could-possibly-go-wrong/

Fells Acres political costs?

The first casualty may have been Scott Harshbarger, Middlesex County (Massachusetts) DA at the time of the Fells Acres prosecutions, in his *narrow* 1998 loss as Democratic challenger to Republican Governor Paul Cellucci. 1998 was otherwise a good year for Democrats in Massachusetts; liberal Democrats disgusted by Fells Acres might well have made the difference.

3 PaulB 09.17.13 at 8:16 pm

You were engaging in wishful thinking when you suggested that it was Coakley’s misconduct as a prosecutor that caused her loss in 2010. That was a complete non-issue in either the primary or her race against Scott Brown.

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