It’s worth recalling, as the Massachusetts Senate election approaches, that Martha Coakley is not just some bland Democratic machine apparatchik. She’s a bland Democratic machine apparatchik with a long record as a prosecutor that includes some very ugly things.
Exhibit A is the notorious case, familiar to readers of the Wall Street Journal over the past three decades, of Gerald Amirault. The case, discussed in summary here, was a terrible miscarriage of justice involving fantastical accounts of sex abuse of children, exposed by Journal reporter Dorothy Rabinowitz; it was originally prosecuted by another politically ambitious Democrat, Scott Harshbarger. And then:
When Martha Coakley became district attorney of Middlesex County in 1999, the Amiraults were still in the news. But by this time hardly anyone believed they were guilty of the horrendous crimes they were alleged to have committed. In fact there was no evidence that anyone had abused any children in the Fells Acres Day Care.
But what did Martha Coakley do when the Parole Board voted unanimously (5-0) to pardon Gerald Amirault? She did everything in her power to see that he stayed in prison, including sending an assistant DA to oppose his release at the hearing. Coakley also went on talk shows to spout her views about his guilt. (Read about Martha Coakley’s involvement in Cheryl Amirault’s Plea Bargain also).
That alone should disqualify Coakley as a candidate for higher office. But there’s more. Such overzealousness is why criminal-defense-minded writers like Radley Balko and Jeralyn Merritt – neither of them exactly a right-wing Republican – are opposed to Coakley. Both cite other examples as well (Balko notes that Coakley first came to prominence in the notorious “shaken-baby” case against British nanny Louise Woodward, in which Woodward’s murder conviction was reduced to manslaughter by the judge).
But overzealousness in questionable (or worse) cases isn’t Coakley’s problem. There’s also the opposite, her lenient treatment of a Somerville cop who raped his 23-month-old niece – yes, a toddler – with a hot curling iron. Coakley’s office let him out without bail pending trial; only under her successor was he convicted and sentenced to two life terms in jail.
It starts to be apparent that the persistent incompetence and tone-deafness of Coakley’s campaign may not be a new thing for her.
UPDATE: Bigjournalism.com takes a similarly harsh look at Coakley’s role in letting notorious pedophile Father John Geoghan off the hook in 1995.
SECOND UPDATE: But she is tough on ladies’ gardening clubs.
THIRD UPDATE: Rabinowitz lays into Coakley.
33 thoughts on “Martha Coakley, Bad Prosecutor”
I am not going to pretend I know much anything about either candidate, but I can say this-Brown has run a great campaign and Coakley has run a miserable one.
Irony-if this election had taken place months ago this would have been a total Dem romp. Unfortunately, the healthcare Ted Kennedy received was so great that it allowed him to live longer than he would have in other countries , thereby pushing his death, and thus, this election, further into the future.
My first post after her announcement was about Coakley and the Amirault case.
It’s good to see the story getting some more play…
As a Massachusetts native, I am distraught at the rot that seems to have permeated the Democratic party in the state. The Kennedy nepotism has always been a festering sore, but at least Ted had talent and diligence in his representative of the state. There have, however, been other Dems like Paul Tsongas who managed to break through.
The notion now that Vicki Kennedy’s views should have any relevance at all is sickening. We get what we deserve in this election and perhaps a Brown victory will help clear the rot and do something about the complacency rampant among the machine hacks now in charge
Tsongas was a good man, I remember when he ran in 88(?) or 92(?) and he said something along the lines to a questioner like-“I am not Santa Claus,I am not here to hand out gifts”. I was like-yeah. I am against all these state poltical dynasties where the Governor or Senator job keeps just going to sons/daughters, whatever. On the other hand-people do vote them in.
I am not going to pretend I know much anything about either candidate…
Then let me fill you in, dch. They’re both in the pockets of the corporate interests who are out to screw the citizens of Mass. and the USA.
Brown won’t use the word Republican in his ads (showing that although he’s an empty suit, he isn’t a complete and total moron), and Coakley makes believe she cares for the people–but just held a fundraiser sponsored by the insurance companies, big pharma, defense contractors and the financial corporations that led the nation’s economy off a cliff. And, as any good conservative will tell you, “Unlike the government, private corporations don’t waste money.” (i.e. they sponsored her, so, if elected, she’ll do their bidding).
The only difference between the two parties is that the Democrats aren’t foolish enough to privatize Social Security, YET.
People can make believe this is a huge election with gigantic ramifications (and believe me, the corporate MSM already has those talking points down), but the only real question about tomorrow’s Mass. election is this:
If you put your ear to P.T. Barnum’s headstone will you hear the words “I told you so” or just uncontrollable laughter?
Liberals and kooks like Berto (but I repeat myself) are already making excuses for this massive thumbs-down of their agenda. The beauty of that is, as long as they fail to see the rope around their necks, we’ll all get to laugh just as loud and long when it happens all over again next cycle.
Supporting those who are running the USA into the ground.
Now that you mention it spongeworthy, that IS fuckin’ hilarious!
Brown won’t use the word republican-1)Mass. has 17% of its population identify as Republican-so why would he? 2) in case you didn’t notice the overwhelming amount of candidates year in, year out, incumbent/challenger, Rep/Dem don’t use their party id in campaign literature 3) he is an idiot-the old liberal chestnut-everyone is an idiot who does not believe in what tolerant people like myself believe. For an idiot he has run quite a genius campaign. Privatization Of SS- as opposed to the total lack of actual funds in the current SS account, that SS is going into deficit spending next year and that it is facing a 13 trillion dollar shortfall .
So true about the actual lack of funds in the current SS account. All that’s in there is worthless IOUs.
BTW, those worthless IOUs are securities from the United States of America. Wait ’til China finds out the jokes on them!
I remember the good old days (before 1/20/2009) when saying that promises from the United States weren’t worth the paper they’re printed on was tantamount to treason.
Speaking of the good old days, in another area we might be in them this very week. If Brown does win in Massachusetts, we’ll be reminiscing a year from now about the good old days (today) when Brown wasn’t called a RINO.
Congratulations to Scott Brown.
Couldn’t have happened to a better group of people than the Democrats. Okay, this is the 2nd best group of people it could happen to.
I don’t think it’s any coincidence this happened on the same day in which it came out that an internal audit found the FBI broke the law thousands of times when requesting Americans’ phone records using fake emergency letters that were never followed up on with true subpoenas — even though top officials knew the practice was illegal.
What better way for Brown to thank the voters and show he wasn’t kidding with the small-government stuff (not to mention his law and order bonafides) than forcefully calling for further investigation and indictments . It’s right in his sweet spot, and will surely allow him to hit the ground running in his new job. Let’s hope the disappointed Democrats don’t try to Norm Coleman him, now.
You go Scottie!
I hope he is on the 1st train there tomorrow morning-I dare them to play games.
Can you provide a reference for your “….an internal audit found the FBI broke the law thousands of times when requesting Americans’ phone records using fake emergency letters that were never followed up on with true subpoenas…”
Last night’s upset is why you can’t take politics too seriously. And why you don’t take one election too hard, even when things look bleakest.
This especially applies to things like The Death of Conservatism, because you know this country is basically conservative and it’s only a matter of time until voters get a look at the alternative and walk away.
A lot of hippies are crying this morning, and their tears are a great comfort to me, as they should be for all of us. So remember–when things look darkest there will still be many opportunities to point and laugh down the road.
Cry, hippie. Cry.
It was a piece in “Wired” magazine written by Ryan Singel (Released on 1/19/10 at 5:03 pm).
I’d put the link, but my experience on this site is that providing links makes my replies hang up somewhere, and they don’t post for weeks. (Crank, is that still a problem on this site?)
I hope this helps.
Regarding the filter, in my experience, if you replace the “dots” in the website with something else, it escapes the filter:
I agree with Berto’s general thesis on this thread: the real differences between the party elites are negligible. There are obviously great differences among the rank and file voters, and often there are great differences between elites while on the campaign trail, but once elected officials get inside the Beltway, those differences become much smaller and they mostly all become corporatist and statist lackies. Maybe Brown will be different. We’ll see.
The lesson for this is that Obama should stop trying to engage the GOP who’ve shown no desire to try to engage for the good of the country. All they care about is blocking his initiatives and seeking to defeat him in 2012.
The point of being elected is to get things done. The Dem majorities in both houses should just roll the GOP, enact legislation and let the people decide next fall if they agree with the direction of the country.
here is the thing, the 52.8% of people who voted for Obama were composed of a good percentage of people who were voting for something called Hope and Change. What they definitely were not voting for was uber liberal Chicago style policies. In addition, after the election last year they did a poll of people who voted for Obama and close to 60% of the people who voted for him actually thought the Republicans were in charge of Congress. In other words there was no mandate for most of what Obama/Reid/Pelosi et al have put forth this year. There is a way for Obama to extricate himself from this and limit Dem losses-however since he is a totally inept/amateur executive, who is surrounded by uber lefties, he nor they see it. And no I won’t post it.
Since dch won’t advise Obama and the Dems, I will.
Hey Obama and Dems, stop kicking hippies in the teeth!
Can you point out to me the occasions on which the president has engaged the GOP, other than to scold them for not falling in line behind his proposals?
“The Dem majorities in both houses should just roll the GOP, enact legislation and let the people decide next fall if they agree with the direction of the country.”
Have you been asleep, or did you just fail to notice that this is exactly what they’ve been trying (and failing) to do on health care? The delay so far has been in trying to get DEMOCRATS on board. They gave up on engaging the GOP a long time ago.
Obama did engage the GOP!!! He told them to “shut up”. He said, “I won.” He called them names. That’s engaging!!
Joel, I believe today is the one-year anniversary of when Obama gave up on engaging the GOP.
Pass the public option.
It can be done EASILY.
1) Here are the annual per capita heathcare costs (in US dollars) of other industrialized nations (numbers from 2007):
Notice how much more the US pays than all these other industrialized nations.
2) The costs of a projected public option plan is approximately $1 trillion over the next 10 years.
3) There are over 300 million Americans
If you divide the $1 trillion cost by the 300 million citizens, we’ll need to find a saving of $3,333 per citizen over the next 10 years.
Damn, you could throw in the $10 cost of a calculator for each of 300 million citizens so they can follow along if you want, and it will still be less than $3,500 savings per citizen needed over 10 years to pay for the public option.
So, let those who are against the public option explain how America isn’t good enough to find the $3,500 savings needed per citizen over the next 10 years.
Hell, if we could meet every other nations costs, we could pay the 10 year costs in less than 15 months. And these anti-HCR people think we can’t do it in 120 months?
We could EASILY.
Need to put this in a soundbite?
Simple, tell the citizens that Congressperson X doesn’t think the America is good enough to do in 10 years what France does every 15 months.
How easy would it be to run against that guy?
Of course that won’t satisfy the insurance companies who own Congress, or the racists who don’t want ni***** getting healthcare, but is that enough reason not to do it?
Still don’t understand the difference between receiving healthcare and having insurance, huh? In this country tens of millions of people don’t have insurance but just call up a doctor go, get their healthcare and pay in cash. In other countries everyone has health insurance and they call up their doctors and they wait, sometimes many months, for exams, tests and surgeries.
Berto, let me address your last comment first. That we insipid and offensive, even for you.
With regard to your calculations, the $1 trillion dollar cost for ten years presupposes ten years of new taxes balanced against only six years of new services. I think you need to get the calculator out again. Also, I believe the $1 trillion figure also presupposed significant Medicare cuts that almost certainly won’t occur.
Maybe, just maybe people opposing the so-called healthcare reform aren’t racist, they just don’t believe the fantastic tales that costs can be reduced while expanding coverage and keeping the quality of care the same.
I’ll go back and check those numbers again.
I know you want to bust out the fainting couch anytime someone hints at Americans being racist, but you really should face up to it.
Did you not hear the meme spread by many Americans that it was the Community Reinvestment Act that caused the financial crisis? Is it your contention that of all the wrong-headed things to blame the financial crisis on, the one that stuck the most just happened to be that blacks were getting mortgages? Are you saying it’s just a coincidence?
Do you suggest the abolition of health insurance? Because in this country, those with health insurance often call up their doctors and they wait, sometimes many months, for exams, tests and surgeries.
On another topic, did you notice Gen. Barry McCaffrey is channeling his inner berto?
I’m probably wasting my time here, but the argument concerning the CRA is much more complicated than simply blaming loans to blacks. Attributing it to racism is wrong and lazy thinking, and you shouldn’t be surprised that you are getting slammed on here – again.
I don’t happen to believe that the CRA was primarily to blame, though Frannie and Freddie certainly had problems unrelated to the CRA. See Bernanke’s speech here in 2007:
Given that your last supporter on here was someone who unleashed his larger dog on relatively harmless small dogs, you might want to raise the quality of your arguments.
I went to the Cato Institute site and found that without raising taxes or significantly reducing Medicare payments, AND including 10 years worth of services (not 6) the real costs are closer to $3 trillion.
So you are telling me that America can’t do in 10 years what France does in less than 4.
Please shout that from the rooftops all over town.
The link you provided brought me nowhere. I googled Bernanke speech 3/6/2007 (I guessed from the end of your link) and couldn’t find anything there either. Could you please assist?
Secondly, please explain the argument concerning the CRA, because the “providing loans to people who don’t deserve them” meme is the only one I heard.
If you don’t realize that “when the shit goes down, blame brown” isn’t a mantra of a sizable chunk of this nation, you need to pay more attention.
Also, I have no idea what your last paragraph means. Other than dch, who was kind enough to add “channeling my inner berto” (the best euphemism ever for “the Bush Administration tortured”) to the lexicon, I didn’t think I had any supporters here. Please explain.
As for Frannie and Freddie, weren’t we told privatization of them (unlike allowing them to be government-owned entities) would keep the problems from festering?
BTW, the fact you “don’t happen to believe that the CRA was primarily to blame” for the financial crisis—considering the re-packaging of mortgages into derivatives by Wall St. firms and the massive fraud involved in the rating of those derivatives—is mighty big of you.
Berto, does that $3 trillion figure represent the actual cost of the current Obamacare proposal? Does it take into account the increase in private insurance costs that will surely occur if Medicare is greatly expanded? Because health care providers already charge more to those privately insured than they do to Medicare recipients (because those payments are capped by law), therefore those with private insurance are already subsidizing the public insurance option. Surely if Medicare is extended, the health care providers will have to either stop accepting it (as the Mayo Clinic recetly did at one of its facilities) or charge even more to the privately insured. If the privately insured are charged more, we will see an abandonment of private insurance towards the public option, which in turn will greatly drive up costs for the public option.
Also, I just read somewhere today that France has a per capita income that is 30% below that of the U.S., is that really what we aspire to? I think the results of the Mass. Senate election suggest that the answer is a resounding no.
“The link you provided brought me nowhere. I googled Bernanke speech 3/6/2007 (I guessed from the end of your link) and couldn’t find anything there either. Could you please assist?”
The link will work if you replace the “DOT” within the link with a “.”
“Secondly, please explain the argument concerning the CRA, because the “providing loans to people who don’t deserve them” meme is the only one I heard.”
A complete mischaracterization of the argument. The argument is that the loans were given to people who *could not afford to pay them back.* Whether or not they “deserved” them is completely irrelevant. I may think I “deserve” a private jet, but I could certainly understand someone denying me a loan due to my inability to pay.
“If you don’t realize that “when the shit goes down, blame brown” isn’t a mantra of a sizable chunk of this nation, you need to pay more attention.”
You can’t possibly believe the only motivation for the CRA argument is racism. If you do, then there really isn’t any point in debating the issue with you.
“Also, I have no idea what your last paragraph means. . . . I didn’t think I had any supporters here. Please explain.”
It was a while back, in one of Crank’s October 19, 2009 posts, to be exact. I even looked it up for you, given the rarity of the event. I pasted it at the end of this post. I wouldn’t be too proud of it.
“As for Frannie and Freddie, weren’t we told privatization of them (unlike allowing them to be government-owned entities) would keep the problems from festering?”
Yes, and by Bernanke himself. Read the speech to which I linked.
“BTW, the fact you “don’t happen to believe that the CRA was primarily to blame” for the financial crisis—considering the re-packaging of mortgages into derivatives by Wall St. firms and the massive fraud involved in the rating of those derivatives—is mighty big of you.”
Yes, I do believe that Wall Street and the ratings bear the lion’s share of the blame (fraud is not the right word, more like greed and stupidity). But that doesn’t mean that weren’t other contributing factors, and it also doesn’t mean I’m going to dismiss other arguments as “racism.”
Now for you lone supporter:
“Berto, you deserve a medal for your ability to suffer and smackdown fools.
I’m reminded of a time I was walking my German Shepard on the beach. A pack of four or five mostly smaller dogs appeared and made some loud, threatening runs at Buddy. When I unleashed him so he could defend himself, some serious ass-kicking commenced, with Buddy playing the part of Bruce Lee in an old kung fu film.
Nice work, buddy. The only difference is that those annoying, yapping animals had the smarts to recognize who the big dog was.”
Posted by rs at October 24, 2009 9:41 AM
A clarification – I said above
“Yes, and by Bernanke himself. Read the speech to which I linked.”
I did not mean to imply that Bernanke advocated for the privitization of Fannie and Freddy in that speech. What he did stress was that the existing problems of those organizations were in no small part due to the fact that they were not subject to the same private market pressures as other lenders – pressures that would have constrained their ability to become systemic threats.
Thanks MVH. I’ll take a look at the Bernanke link.
As for the CRA argument, that’s one of the smallest (if any at all) of the factors involved in the financial crisis.
In fact, The Federal Reserve and the FDIC both hold that empirical research has not validated any relationship between the CRA and the 2008 financial crisis.
Furthermore, Michael S. Barr, a Treasury Department official, noted that approximately 50% of the subprime loans were made by independent mortgage companies that were not regulated by the CRA, and another 25% to 30% came from only partially CRA regulated bank subsidiaries and affiliates.
Is the claim that CRA be blamed only because of racism? No. Misunderstanding, stupidity and downright gullibility of those making the claim are also factors. True that these “real Americans” who think the CRA is to blame, also claim Obama is both a socialist AND a fascist, so you may be correct that I’m underselling the stupidity argument.
However, I will say this: There’s more of a racism factor to those who make that argument, than there is in the CRA being a factor in the financial crisis.
As for this rs person, thanks for the reminder. That thread was the one where I called out the bald-faced hypocrisy of 9/11 fetishists like Crank. I think rs may have gotten too excited by the beauty of that evisceration.
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