Governor’s Council Debate Centers on Judicial Appointments

By Dana Esmel
WHAV News Director

A debate in Haverhill last night between the candidates for Fifth District governor's councilor focused on the relevance and transparency of the panel responsible for judicial appointments, including judges, clerk-magistrates and parole board members.

Haverhill School Committee member Maura L. Ryan-Ciardiello, Republican candidate, argued the court system is flawed, and the council's actions go unpublicized. She noted, as an example, the council's approval of a parole board member to a superior court judgeship, and that panel's decision in 2010 to release a man serving a double life sentence, who would later murder a Woburn police officer repsonding to a robbery.

“If my job, as an elected official, is to appoint someone for a lifetime position, or to the age of 70, when they retire, I want to hear from you. Have you had this person as an attorney? Was he good? Was she good? Were they good, bad? Because that is going to weigh heavily, heavily, on how I make my vote,” Ryan-Ciardiello said.

Democrat incumbent Governor's Councilor Eileen R. Duff, of Gloucester, elected in 2012, said the board has a clear impact on the daily lives of the public, yet she tells people its responsibility for vetting judges is “the most important job they probably never heard of.” Unlike other states, she said, the governor's council is a fourth branch of government.

“Most folks want to have someone who listens to them. That they have a fair shake when they get in there. They may not get the resolution they want, but it's our job to make sure that these people are listening, in giving, as you heard before, access to justice,” Duff said.

The debate event, held at the Haverhill Citizens Center, also featured the Essex County Register of Probate candidates, Republican Michael E. Morales of Andover, and Democratic incumbent Pamela Casey O'Brien of Saugus. It was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Greater Haverhill.

WHAV broadcast the debate live and will repeat it again at 7 p.m., tonight.