2018 Governors Council Candidates Q&A

From the League of Women Voters of Cape Ann to the candidates for Governors Council. The replies are in the order in which we received them.

1) Why are you interested in serving on the Governor’s Council, and what qualifications do you bring?

2) What actions or words would disqualify a person from being a judge?

3) What would disqualify a person from being pardoned?

Marc Mercier:

1) I decided to run for the position of Governor’s Councillor when I became aware of the partisanship and unprofessionalism of our existing Councillors and the poor decisions of certain judges. I realized that, in order to have better judges appointed, we must have the most-qualified, non-partisan, Councillors. Selecting qualified, objective judges is a cornerstone of justice in our society. With my background in law and finance, gained at Suffolk Law and as a litigation consultant at some of the world’s best consulting firms, I know my presence will improve the Council. I am the only candidate running, in this district, who has a law degree – a critical requirement for understanding our legal system and the subtleties of law within it. I have also spent the past sixteen years as a fraud investigator and economic damages consultant to lawyers at some of the best law firms in New England. Finally, I am the only candidate willing to serve as Governor’s Councillor without taking a salary. On an hourly basis, I believe that the Governor’s Councillors are the highest paid officials in the Commonwealth. Given the importance of the role, they should serve for the mere honor and privilege of doing so.

2) Beyond the standard requirements for which all judges are screened via the nomination process, for me, a person should not serve as a judge if they hold biases which prevent them from treating all persons equally under the law. This includes biases which would result in favored or disfavored treatment. Courts must serve as objective arbiters of justice. Further, a judicial candidate is not qualified to serve if they think their purpose is to enforce the law, rather than protect rights. The Constitution demands that individual rights be protected from government overreach and abuse. The citizens’ most effective means of recourse from such abuse is an unbiased judge who properly understands her, or his, role in protecting individual rights.

3) Pardons should be reserved for rare cases in which some imbalance of justice remains after a convicted person has served their sentence. In my opinion, barring exceptional evidentiary circumstances, pardons should not be given to persons convicted of serious acts of violence. Using force to harm others is a great injustice and people who do so should bear the full consequences of their choice. As a libertarian, I believe that citizens should be free to do as they wish, so long as they don’t harm others. If they do cause harm, they must be held accountable.

Eileen Duff:

1) During my time at the FCC in Washington I was a gatekeeper charged with vetting anyone wanting access with the Commissioner. I was also in charge of hiring all the Legal Interns. I mastered the skill of turning people down without humiliating them. Civility and political impartiality are harder to master than some may imagine and I pride myself on having these skills. I’ve successfully done this job for 3 terms and pride myself on being a voice for the voiceless and the common man. I have proven myself to be above the fray when it comes to party politics as well, championing and supporting folks like Judge Sal Tabit, a Republican, who was unfairly attacked. I represent all people, not just one specific group or party.

2) By the time a Candidate gets to us they have been well investigated, however, there are some issues that present themselves at hearings which are disqualifying. Poor judicial temperament, disrespect for the Council or to a Councilor, belonging to a group that discriminates, input from employees who feel the person is unfit for the position. Most times employees wish to remain anonymous, yet feel compelled to reach out to me. I do very detailed investigations of candidates, so when they appear before us I know a great deal about their work, their writing ability as well as their reputations in the legal community.

3) We rarely received pardons from Governors, and have had none from this Governor. To get to us, one has to have applied and gotten the go ahead from the Parole Board and then be recommended by the Governor. If a person did not admit they had committed the crime they went to prison for and did not show remorse, that would automatically disqualify them. If the victim of their crime testified on their behalf, that would carry a lot of weight for consideration.

Richard Baker:

1) For the past 18 years I have been managing and participating in patent litigation before some of the best judges in the country in the Federal Courts.  I want to make sure that the Massachusetts courts are staffed with the same quality of judges as at the Federal level, judges that rule with integrity and respect for the rule of law.

I have been serving the public for many years in many roles, from my service as a member of the Pentucket Regional School Committee, to the West Newbury Board of Assessors, to serving on the board of directors for non-profits.  I’m running to continue my public service at the State level.

My experience helping inventors obtain patents and make money from their patents provides me with the knowledge of the court system.  My experience interviewing hundreds of candidates as an engineering manager has taught me how to interview and evaluate candidates. My board service provides me with the experience to work with elected officials.  I am the most qualified candidate in this race.

2) A judicial candidate who is seeking a judicial position for his own agenda or purposes would disqualify the candidate from being a judge.  We need to look at judicial candidates who are applying to serve the Commonwealth, to provide justice to those who appear before them, no matter what their personal opinion is of the law.

3) A person is entitled to a pardon based on the totality of the evidence of the crime they were convicted of, the time since the conviction, their behavior since the conviction, and the safety of the public.  There are no absolute rules that would disqualify a person from a pardon, but pardons should be rare and only offered when the totality of the evidence strongly supports the pardon.