Joseph Ferreira Has a Solution to Stop Bad Judges [OPINION]
Governor's Councilor Joe Ferreira has a real solution for keeping the public safe from bad state judges. He is a former cop, an attorney, a father and a Democrat.
Ferreira has many reasons to get bad judges off the bench. His three biggest reasons are his daughters. His time as a police officer has taught him what a criminal can do to the innocent.
In Massachusetts, a state judge gets a lifetime appointment from the governor if the Governor's Council approves the appointment. The majority of judges are decent people who have spent their life practicing law and operating in the realities of the legal system. More than 95 percent of the judges are deserving of their position and act in a manner that is fair for the accused, convicted, victims and the public at large.
We don't hear about the vast number of responsible judges in Massachusetts.
We hear about the judges that are too lenient and endanger the public with their lack of common sense. Judge Timothy Feeley is one who comes to mind. He has repeatedly made decisions to reduce bail and let dangerous people walk the street. He has had to reverse his own decisions on an accused sex offender's bail, and other judges have had to step in and reverse him to keep the public safe. There have been attempts to impeach Judge Feeley, but he is still on the bench.
What is needed is an institutional change in Massachusetts. Ferreira has offered a serious institutional change for our state. He is the former Chief of Police in Somerset and knows the criminal justice system from both sides. Today, he is retired from police work and has a law practice.
His proposal is to bring sitting judges back in front of the Governor's Council for review and reappointment to the bench. Today, the Governor's Council approves a judge and off they go for the rest of their career, except for the individuals who serve as judges at the Industrial Accidents Board. The appointees to the IAB come back every seven years for those judges to have their performance reviewed by the elected members of the Governor's Council.
The genius of Ferreria's idea is that it is actually a solution that can be implemented. Massachusetts already has a long-standing practice of reviewing the performance of one type of judge. Ferreria is simply proposing the practice be expanded to all judges, not just a few. His solution is based on his experience as a member of the Governor's Council. How many people even knew that a segment of the judges in Massachusetts is subject to review every seven years?
Most election year solutions are foolish and impossible to enact. This is a refreshing change from our current political climate. But it doesn't surprise the people of Cape Cod, the South Shore and the SouthCoast. Joe Ferreira has been an advocate for opening up the judicial nomination process to the public for years.
He has held seminars on "How to Become a Judge" all over his district. He has been a vocal advocate for putting local people on the bench. People from Bristol, Plymouth, Barnstable counties, and the Cape and Islands are on the bench today in their own communities because of the hard work of Ferreira.
He is our elected cop on the beat in the courthouses that his people go to for justice. He is walking the beat at the State House for his constituents. But like any father, he is thinking about how to protect his three children, and that means he is protecting your children, too.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.