DA Responds To Advocacy

Ξ October 6th, 2007 | → | ∇ mass lawyers weekly |

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
March 03, 2003

To the Editor:
I was surprised to see Lawyers Weekly publish, as a Sexually Dangerous Persons (SDP) jury trial is being impaneled in Superior Court, a lengthy advocacy piece portraying the respondent as a hapless victim of commonwealth excesses (”‘Commonwealth v. Baker’ Poses Novel Question,” Feb. 24). Surely Lawyers Weekly published this article with full knowledge of the procedural stance of the case: The co-author is clearly identified as a paralegal employed by defense counsel, and the article states up front that “trial commences this week in Middlesex Superior Court.”

While the piece poses as a legal analysis of a novel question of law, it is actually the “defense” strategy of Alden Baker. References to discovery reports and evaluations, which may or may not be admissible at trial, are referenced liberally. The authors casually dissemble and dismiss a rape conviction, the multiple levels of procedural safeguards available in SDP proceedings, and then allege that Baker is on trial for his “lifestyle.”

I respect Harvey Silverglate, and his support of civil liberties, but it is apparent in this article that he does not let the facts get in the way of his “theory.”

As this letter is written, Massachusetts prosecutors in the 11 districts are preparing SDP cases for trial. If commonwealth prosecutors, as respondent’s counsel has done in this case, sent you our opening statements for publication, containing every inculpatory detail, to coincide nicely with the date of jury selection, you would not (and you should not) print them. Why are the rules different for the defense bar?

Martha Coakley


The writer is district attorney of Middlesex County.


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