Baker called to meeting to rescue judicial nominee
By State House News Service | August 4, 2016, 6:34 EST
STATE HOUSE — The Governor’s Council narrowly approved Douglas Darnbrough for a Barnstable District Court judgeship on Wednesday after Gov. Charlie Baker was called to the meeting to help break a 4-4 tie that would have sunk his nominee.
After the council deadlocked, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito called a recess, keeping the vote open and giving Baker time to arrive in the hearing room. Within minutes, Baker arrived and took over the meeting, allowing Polito to vote to break the tie – a feature of the rules that govern the eight-member elected council that vets and votes on judicial nominees.
Wednesday’s meeting occurred in the midst of the council’s interview with Superior Court Judge Kimberly Budd, up for a seat on the Supreme Judicial Court. The scheduled noon meeting to vote on Darnbrough was pushed back an hour, which Polito announced while presiding during Budd’s hearing.
Baker, who did not release a public schedule for Wednesday, appeared at the outset of Budd’s hearing to introduce the nominee and also showed up at a 2 p.m. “Heroes Among Us” ceremony at the State House.
Jubinville objected when Polito quickly recessed to wait for the governor before recording the tie vote.
“Gotta be here to vote,” Jubinville said.
After the vote, Baker said Darnbrough is “more than qualified” for a judgeship.
“There was a difference of opinion among the councilors,” Baker told reporters after. He said, “I think the gentleman whose nomination was in front of the council spent almost 20 years as a private practitioner in solo practice, working exactly the district court environment that this particular seat is about.”
Councilors Robert Jubinville of Milton, Marilyn Devaney of Watertown, Christopher Iannella of Boston, and Eileen Duff of Gloucester all voted against Darnbrough, who is now assistant clerk magistrate in Taunton.
“He’s been a clerk for a while. He hasn’t tried cases,” Iannella told the News Service. He also complained that the nominee is from Rehoboth, near the Rhode Island border and a significant drive from Cape Cod.
“I wanted someone from the Cape,” Iannella said. “It’s the Cape seat.”
“I think that that’s a bogus argument. People are appointed all the time who never sit in the seat they’re appointed to,” said Councilor Joseph Ferreira, of Somerset, who joined Councilors Terrence Kennedy of Lynnfield, Jennie Caissie of Oxford, and Michael Albano of Longmeadow in supporting the nomination.
Ferreira said a judge of 20 years appointed to the Falmouth District Court has “never spent one day” in that courthouse, and he said after being assigned to the Barnstable court, Darnbrough could sit as far away as Fall River.
Devaney said she voted against Darnbrough because of highly qualified candidates she said never make it before the council.
“We have lowered the bar,” said Devaney.
Devaney said people rejected by Baker’s judicial nominating apparatus, never making it before the council, are more qualified than Darnbrough.
“There’s no comparison with the people who are being rejected. People are being rejected that are qualified,” said Devaney, who said that is “absolutely” why she voted against the nominee.
Baker has not yet had one of his nominees rejected by the council, though that appeared to be the likely result before the governor withdrew his nomination for a Land Court post last year. Except for Caissie, who like Baker is a Republican, all the councilors are Democrats.
— Written by Andy Metzger
Copyright State House News Service