When the news of Michael McCarthy's failed nomination to a judgeship first broke earlier this week, I'm sure I was not alone in feeling that this was yet another instance of the Boston-based Governor's Council's lack of concern for Western Massachusetts. My views changed, however, when I read Feb. 15 that the reason that the Council voted against him was that he indicated during his interview that he "would assist inexperienced prosecutors if they were having problems presenting a case."
From the Eagle's report, it appears that neither state Rep. Michael Albano, nor six judges in Western Massachusetts and a Supreme Judicial Court Justice, nor District Attorney David Capeless, nor a number of business, political and community leaders in the Berkshires consider a potential judge's [alleged] suggestion that he might favor the prosecution in a trial should disqualify him from appointment. Indeed, the editors of The Berkshire Eagle assert in an editorial that an objection to Mr. McCarthy on those grounds is "of dubious merit."
Have all these people forgotten that the right to a fair trial is supposed to be guaranteed by the Constitution? Can any of them possibly argue that a trial could be fair if it is argued in front of a judge who might be inclined to "offer help to inexperienced prosecutors who were struggling during trials"? Have they considered the possibility that, if Mr. McCarthy were elevated to a judgeship, a convicted defendant might at some point in the future be able to point to this suggestion as grounds for an appeal?
The editors of The Berkshire Eagle mock the members of the Governor's Council who voted against Mr. McCarthy and point out that "Governor's Council members are not required to have any legal experience." If none of the members of the Council who voted against Mr. McCarthy have any legal experience, that is troubling, since it seems that they have a better understanding of the law and the Constitution than do Mr. McCarthy's supporters, the majority of whom are judges and prosecutors who should be well versed both in the law and in the Constitution on which it depends. ANN HIGGINS