January 14, 2010

Coakley's Record

Is Martha Coakley committed to justice?

Radley Balko asks that question in a Politico piece on the public track record of the Democratic candidate for the open Senate seat in Massachusetts. I hadn't heard before of her involvement as a district attorney in the infamous Amirault child abuse case in the 80's.

If you aren't familiar with the Amirault case, or would like a refresher, look no further. In a 2004 post I assembled links to the whole series of Wall Street Journal articles on the case by Dorothy Rabinowitz for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. If you're new to the story, prepare to be chilled to the bone.

Asked recently by the Boston Globe about Coakley's participation in the Amirault case, Rabinowitz replied:

“Martha Coakley was a very, very good soldier who showed she would do anything to preserve this horrendous assault on justice.”

Great....just what Americans are looking for in the next generation of U.S. Senators....good soldiers....who do what the higher-ups in the political hierarchy tell them to do.

Ace has lots more on Coakley's role in the Amirault aftermath, including this excerpt from a Coulter column....

The allegations against the Amiraults were preposterous on their face. Children made claims of robots abusing them, a "bad clown" who took the children to a "magic room" for sex play, rape with a 2-foot butcher knife, other acts of sodomy with a "magic wand," naked children tied to trees within view of a highway, and -- standard fare in the child abuse hysteria era -- animal sacrifices.

There was not one shred of physical evidence to support the allegations -- no mutilated animals, no magic rooms, no butcher knives, no photographs, no physical signs of any abuse on the children.
...
It's one thing to put a person in prison for a crime he didn't commit. It's another to put an entire family in prison for a crime that didn't take place.
...
Coakley wasn't the prosecutor on the original trial. What she did was worse.

At least the original prosecutors, craven and ambition-driven though they were, could claim to have been caught up in the child abuse panic of the '80s. There had not yet been extensive psychological studies on the suggestibility of small children. A dozen similar cases from around the country had not already been discredited and the innocent freed.
...

In July 2001, the notoriously tough Massachusetts parole board voted unanimously to grant Gerald Amirault clemency. Although the parole board is not permitted to consider guilt or innocence, its recommendation said: "(I)t is clearly a matter of public knowledge that, at the minimum, real and substantial doubt exists concerning petitioner's conviction."

Immediately after the board's recommendation, The Boston Globe reported that Gov. Jane Swift was leaning toward accepting the board's recommendation and freeing Amirault.

Enter Martha Coakley, Middlesex district attorney. Gerald Amirault had already spent 15 years in prison for crimes he no more committed than anyone reading this column did. But Coakley put on a full court press to keep Amirault in prison simply to further her political ambitions.

By then, every sentient person knew that Amirault was innocent. But instead of saying nothing, Coakley frantically lobbied Gov. Jane Swift to keep him in prison to show that she was a take-no-prisoners prosecutor, who stood up for "the children." As a result of Coakley's efforts -- and her contagious ambition -- Gov. Swift denied Amirault's clemency.

Thanks to Martha Coakley, Gerald Amirault sat in prison for another three years.

Also via Ace, here's a pretty good summation of Coakley's attempt to advance her career at the expense of an innocent man.

Rabinowitz has more to say about Coakley in a new WSJ op-ed.....via Hit & Run

Posted by dan at January 14, 2010 12:21 AM