During Haverhill Law Day, DePaulo Receives Moody Award, Tucker Talks Cornerstones of Democracy

Retired Essex County Assistant District Attorney John M. DePaulo was the recipient of the Moody Award. Behind him are, from left, Haverhill District Court First Justice Cesar A. Archilla and Judge Richard A. Mori. (WHAV News photograph.)

(Additional photographs below.)

Respect, bridging the differences between people and working together emerged as a major theme during Haverhill District Court’s observance of Law Day last Friday.

The highlight of the annual ceremony was the presentation of the Moody Award to retired Essex County Assistant District Attorney John M. DePaulo, who served nearly 30 years.

During the ceremony, bordering on a roast at times, incoming Haverhill Bar association President Timothy Connors detailed humorous stories about DePaulo’s supposed enemies. Connors admitted, however, “at the end of the day, they admired him and respected him.” DePaulo said the secret of success in court is exercising “mutual respect.”

“We got to the point where just a nod was enough. We wouldn’t have to write everything on a legal pad. I’d talk to a (defense lawyer) Chris Deorocki. He’d take it to his client. I’d talk to the police officer that would usually be sitting over here. I’d make sure it was ok with the Haverhill Police Department or the State Police or Groveland Police or any of the five jurisdictions we have here. I’d talk to them, ‘That sounds pretty good.’ They’d talk to their client and I’d just get a nod and then we’d have an agreement,” he explained.

This is not to say DePaulo didn’t have a sense of humor when it came to those with whom he disagreed.

“You’d have lawyers come up from Boston and their first words would be—somebody I’ve never dealt with—the first words out of their mouth is ‘I can’t even understand why my guy was arrested.’ So, I’d say, ‘Well, that’s because we’re a bunch of stupid bastards up here and we don’t know what we’re doing.’ You can’t imagine how miserable I made that guy feel,” he joked.

DePaulo noted the overwhelming number of court cases locally have agreed upon conclusion s from both sides without the need of a judge having to decide.

The Moody Award is named for Haverhill City Solicitor and later Congressman, U.S. Attorney General and Secretary of the Navy William H. Moody who went on to become an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Continuing with a similar thought process was Essex County District Attorney Paul F. Tucker who delivered the keynote address on the American bar Association 2023 Law Day theme, “Three Cornerstones of Democracy: Civics, Civility and Collaboration.”

He described civics as the study of the rights and duties of citizens, civility as formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech and collaboration as the art of working together with someone to produce or create something. Noting a seeming conflict between these ideas in practice, he asked “Can they co-exist?” He answered by noting a recent ruling by the state Supreme Judicial Court on disagreeable public speech.

“The SJC said that Massachusetts law protects the right to be rude, personal and disrespectful to public figures,” he noted.

Tucker—addressing in particular the many Haverhill High School students in the courtroom, concluded the Three Cornerstones of Democracy: Civics, Civility and Collaboration can’t be mandated, but rather taught and learned. He said these are lessons that would help bring bipartisanship to Washington.

“It’s said that many years ago that (Late House Speaker Thomas P.) “Tip” O’Neil and (President) Ronald Reagan would argue all day and, at night, they would have a discussion over a drink. Fast forward to today when one of the Senate leaders, when he became the majority leader, said, ‘My job is to fight the opposing party legislative initiative—100% of my time I will spend fighting the other side,” he quoted.

Instructor Robert Pike Jr.’s Haverhill High seniors also provided oral arguments in a real-life case—Biden v. Nebraska—that has yet to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Sasha Orr argued on behalf of the Biden Administration, while Casey Connors too Nebraska’s side in the “moot court.” The case centers on whether U.S. secretary of education can force a student loan forgiveness plan on the states.

The Supreme Court could take a cue from Haverhill District Court First Justice Cesar A. Archilla and justices Susan H. McNeil and Richard A. Mori. They ruled the administration required the approval of Congress. Mori gave a quick analysis which reinforced the theme of the day.

“I think that had President Biden—Secretary (Miguel) Cardona through President Biden—submitted this to Congress, I think it very well might have passed with bipartisan support. Unfortunately, in this generation, that bipartisanship has been lost,” he said.

Attorney Thomas Tretter of Sheehan, Schiavoni, Jutras and Magliocchetti served as master of ceremony as president and treasurer of the Haverhill Bar Association. Clerk Magistrate Doris A. Stanziani welcomed the guest and speakers that also included Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini and Haverhill High School singers, “The Harmonizers.”

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