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UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT

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DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS

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No. 1:12-cr-40026-WGY

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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

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vs.

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JOHN J. O'BRIEN, et al

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For Sentencing Hearing Before:
Judge William G. Young

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EXCERPT:

Sentencing Findings

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United States District Court
District of Massachusetts (Boston)
One Courthouse Way
Boston, Massachusetts 02210
Thursday, November 13, 2014

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REPORTER: RICHARD H. ROMANOW, RPR
Official Court Reporter
United States District Court
One Courthouse Way, Room 5510, Boston, MA 02210
bulldog@richromanow.com

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A P P E A R A N C E S

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FRED M. WYSHAK, JR., ESQ.
KARIN M. BELL, ESQ.
ROBERT A. FISHER, ESQ.
United States Attorney's Office
J. Joseph Moakley U.S. Courthouse
1 Courthouse Way, Suite 9200
Boston, Massachusetts 02210
(617) 748-3954
Email: Fred.wyshak@usdoj.gov
For the United States

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STYLIANUS SINNIS, ESQ.
WILLIAM W. FICK, ESQ.
CHRISTINE DeMASO, ESQ.
Federal Public Defender Office
District of Massachusetts
51 Sleeper Street, 5th Floor
Boston, Massachusetts 02210
Email: stellio_sinnis@fd.org
For John J. O'Brien

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R. BRADFORD BAILEY, ESQ.
ADAMO LANZA, ESQ.
Denner Pellegrino, LLP
Four Longfellow Place, Suite 3501
Boston, Massachusetts 02114
Email: bbailey@dennerpellegrino.com
For Elizabeth V. Tavares

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JOHN A. AMABILE, ESQ.
JAMES C. BRADBURY, ESQ.
Amabile & Burkly, P.C.
380 Pleasant Street
Brockton, Massachusetts 02401
Email: John.amabile@amabileburkly.com
For William H. Burke, III

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P R O C E E D I N G S

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(EXCERPT begins.)

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THE COURT:

These sentences are imposed pursuant

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to 18 United States Code, Section 3553(a), the

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information from the United States Attorney, each of the

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defense counsel, the probation office, and from

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Ms. Tavares.

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Mr. John O'Brien, in consideration of the offenses

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of which you stand convicted, the Court sentences you to

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18 months in the custody of the United States Attorney

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General.

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and a special assessment of $600 as required by the law.

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After you are released from confinement the Court

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imposes upon you 1 year of supervised release with all

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the general conditions of supervised release and such

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special conditions as are appropriate where there is a

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monetary assessment.

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The Court imposes upon you a fine of $25,000

Ms. Elizabeth Tavares, the Court imposes upon you

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3 months, 90 days, in the custody of the United States

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Attorney General.

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1 year of supervised release.

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of $10,000 and a special assessment of $600.

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the general conditions of supervised release and such

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special conditions as are appropriate for a monetary

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assessment.

Thereafter the Court imposes upon you
The Court imposes a fine
With all

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Mr. William Burke, the Court places you on

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probation for a period of one year.

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fine on you of $10,000 and a special assessment of $100.

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All the general conditions of probation will obtain and

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such special conditions as are appropriate for a

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monetary assessment.

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The Court imposes a

These sentences are fair and just.

They are

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sufficient but not greater than required to promote

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respect for the criminal law and to achieve the

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necessary objectives of sentencing.
The sentence on Mr. Burke and Ms. Tavares, they

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are allowed to self-report, they may self-report on

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Tuesday, the 12th of January, 2015.

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conditions of release will obtain.

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All the present

The sentences will not be further stayed pending

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appeal.

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it sorted itself out as it went on and in the main it is

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a rather simple case.

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The only new legal aspect is the use of the gratuity

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statute and even if that aspect of the case were to be

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overturned, it would not overturn the conviction nor

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would it affect the sentences.

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stay it.

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Complex as this case was under the indictment,

The only -- simple in the law.

So there's no reason to

Each one of you is informed that you have the
right to appeal from any findings or rulings the Court

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has made against you.

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appeal be successful, in whole or in part, and the case

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remanded, you'd be resentenced before another judge.

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Should you appeal and should your

Now I need to explain these sentences.

To do so I

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need to make some difficult remarks about the

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Massachusetts judiciary and it breaks my heart to do so,

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for it was there that I learned how to be a judge.

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that does not relieve me of the duty, frankly and

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honestly, to explain why I do what I do.

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But

One of the problems here is that for far too long

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we all have tolerated a culture of political patronage

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in the hiring of judicial staff.

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obvious fact in no way undercuts the jury verdict.

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you three stand convicted of -- well, what two of you

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stand convicted of is lying, repeatedly lying,

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facilitating the lies of others, suborning perjury, and

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conspiring, all three of you, to do those things.

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At the same time the fact that we've tolerated this

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political patronage for so long is a form of sophistry,

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hypocrisy, because we've said that, as far ago as my

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service on the Superior Court, that we were hiring

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people based on merit.

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to probation staff, it goes to court officers --

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And the sentences are my responsibility, entirely.

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when I get to this point I'm speaking from no moral high

Recognizing that
What

What I have to say goes not just

And

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ground.
The federal judiciary has its share of sophistry

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and hypocrisy and we've touched on it today.

This

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business of sentencing people based on conduct of which

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they were acquitted is, to me, utterly unacceptable and

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reduces the moral authority of the criminal law.

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also is true that in a system such as our federal

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system, where 97 percent of offenders plead guilty, that

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for us piously to say we're sentencing on fair

It

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preponderance of the evidence when what we have before

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us is manifestly not evidence but is a report of data

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largely submitted by the government, demeans the whole

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concept of evidence and factfinding.

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But I want to say straight out, if I were to adopt

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the harsh sentences proposed here, I believe I'm sending

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precisely the wrong message, I'm suggesting that these

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three are somehow rogue agents or, um, people completely

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out of the pale, and tragically that's not so.

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have here, in this Court's considered judgment, is

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fundamentally decent people utterly without a moral

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compass at sea on a field, a wash of political

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patronage, and old history is important.

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What we

John O'Brien didn't invent patronage hiring in the

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Department of Probation.

There was a time when the

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judges made the decisions and that time goes back to

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when there were individual line items for each of the

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individual courts, save for the Superior Court, which

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gave it some immunity.

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time, going back to those times, which predate his

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appointment, there were situations where to advantage

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the budget of individual courts there were appointments

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made to receive favorable treatment from the

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Massachusetts legislature or individual senators and

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representatives.

And it is clear that in that

And then came a time when budgets were

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centralized, a wise and important reform, and hiring was

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likewise centralized in the case that's important to our

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situation, in the office of probation, but what that had

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the effect of was simply centralizing the patronage in

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the hands of the House and Senate leadership.

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Now for years it has been the responsibility of

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every judicial officer, it's in the ethics of judicial

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officers, to report crimes and misconduct, and I want to

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pause here and point out and publicly thank those

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justices of the District Court, the Probate and Family

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Court, and the Superior Court who came in here and

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called it what it was, a "sham," and a "travesty," and

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as is required of every judicial officer they made

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report of their conclusions.

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reports?

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Justice of the Superior Court passing out names,

And what happened to those

We have evidence in this case of a Chief

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rejected by the appropriate justice, but that's evidence

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in the court.

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And after these years went by, as counsel properly

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have pointed out, matters hit the paper, people

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resigned, the Supreme Judicial Court launched an

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investigation, and with patronage still up for grabs,

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the Governor thought maybe he'll take it over and have

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probation in the executive and only the quick work of

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Chief Justice Ireland kept probation in the judiciary.

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And then to their great credit, and I say this without

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qualification, the legislature passed reform measures

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designed to bring an end to this era of political

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patronage.

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Now if matters had rested there, the truth is that

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we would be much less apprised of what was going on.

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The United States Attorney and her staff are to be

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commended for bringing this criminal action and for

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pursuing it to trial.

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Today every judge in Massachusetts must stand

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ashamed and appalled at the extent of corruption within

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the probation department of the Massachusetts judiciary.

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But various things have been learned and there is no

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going back.

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Here is what this trial has taught us.

One, that patronage corrupts.

Whether it is

rendered illegal or not is immaterial, it corrupts.

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It's dysfunctional.

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judge don't stop with reporting it to the First Justice

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of the Court or a Regional Administrative Justice of the

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Court, they go on through the Chief Justice of the

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Court, also to the Chief Justice for Administration and

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Finance, and reporting any incident of apparent

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patronage hiring to the Justices of the Supreme Judicial

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Court of Massachusetts.

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and parcel of the ethics of every judge.

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Two, the reporting duties of every

After this trial that's part

And one other thing -- two other things, actually.

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This trial establishes, as no other process could, that

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a judiciary staff position is a thing of value under the

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laws of the Commonwealth, and any -- not that it's

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illegal to make suggestions by powerful legislators, by

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the Governor, it's not improper to make suggestions of

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qualified people for employment on judiciary staff, but

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if that suggestion comes with any strings attached, now,

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today, it will be recognized as solicitation of a bribe.

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It is this court's belief that today the hiring of

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-- the patronage hiring of staff within the

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Massachusetts judiciary is over.

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done.

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because of anything that I said, in part it's because of

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the appropriate actions of the Massachusetts legislature

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and the Massachusetts judiciary, but more than anything

It's finished.

And how may I make that statement?

It's

It's not

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else it's because the people themselves, acting through

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a fully-informed jury, have demanded it.

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That's the sentence of the Court.

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MR. SINNIS:

We'll recess.

Two quick things, your Honor.

I

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think you said Mr. Burke when you said "self-report

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day."

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Ms. Tavares and Mr. O'Brien.

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I just want to be clear that you meant

THE COURT:

If I misspoke I did mean those are the

incarcerative sentences.
MR. SINNIS:

And I just want to make sure that

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you're denying bail pending appeal, that's your final

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order that would then be appealable?

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THE COURT:

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MR. SINNIS:

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THE COURT:

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We'll recess.

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(EXCERPT ends, 4:00 p.m.)

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It is appealable.
Thank you.
That's my order.

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C E R T I F I C A T E

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I, RICHARD H. ROMANOW, OFFICIAL COURT REPORTER,

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do hereby certify that the foregoing record is a true

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and accurate transcription of my stenographic notes, of

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the aforementioned EXCERPT, before Judge William G.

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Young, on Thursday, November 13, 2014, to the best of my

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skill and ability.

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/s/ Richard H. Romanow 11-26-14
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RICHARD H. ROMANOW Date