Harrington taps Pittsfield's city solicitor for deputy district attorney seat

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PITTSFIELD — Andrea Harrington will take City Solicitor Rich Dohoney with her when she takes the reins of the Berkshire District Attorney's Office next month.

Harrington announced Tuesday that Dohoney will be her deputy district attorney, and that Salem attorney Jeanne Kempthorne will join the team as Harrington's chief of appeals and legal counsel.

Karen Bell, whom Harrington hired as the office's first assistant district attorney, started working in the office Monday to prepare for the January trial list. Harrington said Wednesday she worked with current District Attorney Paul Caccaviello to get Bell in before January.

"They were very gracious about that," Harrington said of Caccaviello's team.

In November, Harrington handily won the district attorney's seat — she earned about 63 percent of the vote — fending off a write-in campaign mounted by Caccaviello and capping a contentious election season. She won her place on the ballot in September following a tight three-way Democratic primary with Caccaviello and Judith Knight.

Harrington, who ran a reformer's platform, will be sworn in by retired Supreme Judicial Court Judge Francis X. Spina on Jan. 2 during a public event, at 10 a.m. at the Berkshire Museum. She'll be the county's first female district attorney.

As Harrington's deputy district attorney, Dohoney will head up prosecution in District Court and Juvenile Court, will oversee the administrative staff, and "will be responsible for implementing and administering new initiatives."

"I am honored that District Attorney-elect Harrington has asked me to serve in this new role," Dohoney said in a news release. "I was inspired by the vision she articulated during her campaign and look forward to putting my courtroom skills to work to improve our community."

Dohoney's new position begins Jan. 2, and his city solicitor duties end Dec. 31.

A city hole to fill

Mayor Linda Tyer said the city contractually retains representation through Dohoney's private practice, Donovan, O'Connor & Dodig, through June 30. That said, Dohoney's leadership will be missed and so she'll explore the possibility of hiring a permanent city solicitor in his place.

"We'll continue to have the firm representing us while we explore what our options are," she said. "My initial thought is that I'd like to seek an attorney to come in as an employee of the city rather than a contract."

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Tyer said the city has done it both ways in the past, and there could be benefits to retaining a full-time city solicitor.

"It gives us the ability to have somebody on staff in the office Monday through Friday and in the evenings, if necessary. A person who is on salary," she said. "It's a more integrated approach to the senior management team."

Still, Tyer said the city has seen success with Dohoney at the helm by contract, and she's unsure if anyone in the legal community will be interested in filling the position.

"We'll just have to see how this all plays out," she said.

She said Dohoney is a trusted member of the team, "and I'm going to miss him a lot."

Dohoney has 18 years of litigation experience, according to a release, and is a member of the Massachusetts Bar Association and serves on the Executive Committee of the Berkshire County Bar Association. He is a graduate of Boston College and Suffolk University Law School.

Leadership lines up under Harrington

Kempthorne brings 36 years of legal experience to her new role in Berkshire County, according to a release, and for Harrington she will oversee training, ethics, appeals and diversion. Kempthorne served as assistant U.S. Attorney in the United States Attorney's Office in Boston for 11 years, the release states, as part of the Major Crimes Unit, the Economic Crimes Unit, and as chief of the Public Corruption and Special Prosecutions Unit. Kempthorne has also served the state as commissioner of the State Ethics Commission, and is a graduate of Radcliffe College, now an arm of Harvard, and Berkeley Law School.

Harrington said she's pleased with the team that's coming together.

"I am excited to bring such an experienced and talented group of prosecutors and legal professionals to serve as my senior leadership team in the Berkshire County District," she said in a news release.

Harrington also appointed a transition team co-chair, Celia Clancy, a consultant and former head of Country Curtains, who will spearhead a public outreach campaign for the office. Harrington said she will use that public input to fuel her priorities in the coming year.

"That'll be something that continues," she said.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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