Our Opinion: Atty. Rota braves lair of the Council
Today, William Rota becomes the second attorney endorsed by the Berkshire legal community to go before the Governor's Council in Boston in an attempt to become an associate justice at Southern Berkshire District Court (Eagle, July 22.) Councilor Michael Albano of Longmeadow guarantees confirmation but the Council can be an odd place, as Michael McCarthy certainly knows.
Mr. McCarthy was originally nominated for the position by Governor Deval Patrick but ran afoul of councilors who didn't grasp some of his answers at a session like the one Mr. Rota is on his way to today. He may also have been victimized by Eastern Massachusetts bias, but at any rate, a 3-3 Governor's Council vote with one abstention nearly two years ago left him a vote shy of approval. Approving judicial nominees is one of the few duties of the Governor's Council, an anachronism from the days when Samuel Adams walked the earth rather than adorned a beer bottle.
The abstaining councilor tried to change her vote to in favor of Mr. McCarthy a month later but the governor ruled that allowing this switch would set a "dangerous precedent." He was correct, as the finality required from all manner of board decisions that enable government to function would be lost if members could decide to change votes days, weeks or months later.
Mr. McCarthy's appeal of the governor's decision resulted in a motion to dismiss from state Supreme Court Justice Margot Botsford, which he is appealing to the full court. The makeup of the Governor's Council has seen changes and the capable Mr. Rota should be approved, but what if he is confirmed and Mr. McCarthy wins his SJC lawsuit? When asked earlier this month by The Eagle's Jim Therrien if the nomination of Mr. Rota would have any impact on the lawsuit, Mr. McCarthy's attorney, Ralpher D. Pellegrino of Springfield, replied, "That's a good question." All this confusion is a product of the Governor's Council.