Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Disorder in the Court

Just because you flunk the bar exam seven times doesn’t mean you can’t become a judge.

At least not in Massachusetts, and not if one of your brothers is already a (Jane Swift-appointed) judge and another one is a big-time lobbyist who donated more than $100,000 to Beacon Hill pols. It also doesn’t hurt if you were hired into the hackerama by none other than Jailbird Jackie Bulger, Whitey’s ex-con brother.

Meet the hack du jour, Peter M. Coyne. This career coatholder, who already makes $85,000 a year as an assistant clerk-magistrate, has been nominated for a $130,000-a-year juvenile-court judgeship by Gov. Deval Patrick...

Coyne took the bar exam for the first time in July 1983. Flunked. Took it twice in 1984 — February and July. Two more belly flops. He gave it another shot in February 1986. Flunked. February 1987, ditto. February 1988, ditto.

In 1989 he became a cab driver, then a year later joined the hospitality industry as a bartender at Local 369 in Braintree. In 1992 Coyne took the bar exam again. Can you guess what happened? By then he was working as a “telephone installation technician” in Southie.

But then, in February 1993, the miracle happened. He passed the bar exam!

He bounced around for a few years, among other things working for his lobbyist brother, whose clients include Exxon Mobil, Kraft Foods, MillerCoors, Raytheon and Verizon. In 2001 he got his rightful spot at the trough like everyone else in his hack clan.

“Within a family,” he explained to the Governor’s Council, “some people might be interested in the same line of work.”

Work? Non-work is more like it.

The vote on whether to confirm this payroll patriot — who did not return repeated calls — is Wednesday. I predict a 4-4 tie. That means Lt. Gov. Tim Murray will have to break the tie. Would you care to guess to whom Coyne donated $250 on Dec. 5, 2008?

But wait, there’s more. Another vote is scheduled for Wednesday. State Rep. Christopher Speranzo of Pittsfield has been nominated by his dear pal Deval for the clerk-magistrate’s job of the Central Berkshire District Court. It’s a lifetime $110,000 job, up from the $61,000 he makes as a back-bench solon.

The job has gone unfilled for two years, so it’s obviously crucial to the administration of justice. This is from the State House News Service account of Speranzo’s testimony: “He acknowledged never having run a private law practice, never having participated in a trial, and never having participated in criminal matters.”

Speranzo did not return repeated phone calls Friday. I particularly wanted to ask him about a public letter to the Governor’s Council describing him as “a pothead. I have smoked marijuana with this man on several occasions. So him getting this job means he knew someone.”

You mean there wasn’t a nationwide search? I predict another 4-4 tie with Lt. Gov. Murray breaking the tie. Would you care to guess which statewide elected official Speranzo donated $100 to on May 28, 2010?

I only have one final question for Deval. How many of these boobs do you have to appoint before you win the bet?

(Howie Carr, "Next hack judge? There oughta be a law" published in the Boston Herald)