The Boston Globe’s pro-Deval Patrick editorial page and moderately liberal Globe columnist Scot Lehigh both put their finger on the real problems raised by the way Patrick has handled his past support for convicted rapist Benjamin LaGuer.
His failure to disclose at an earlier point his contribution to the DNA test might have been just a memory glitch. In that case, his error was in not doing a more thorough review before describing his involvement with LaGuer. Or, more seriously, he might have not mentioned the contribution initially because he wanted to hide this deeper connection to LaGuer.
The editorialist, not being a mind-reader, refrained from saying the obvious: It seems pretty unlikely that Patrick’s memory is as bad as he claims.
Further, Patrick’s own account of the role he played leaves one wondering about his judgment. In a Wednesday interview, Patrick said that he didn’t know LaGuer, adding that “I can’t say I studied the record with care.”
“The issue that came to my attention at the time was the fairness of his trial and particularly the fairness of the jury deliberations,” he told me.
Legitimate concerns, certainly, but why, then, had he pushed for parole for LaGuer and not a new trial? Because he wasn’t representing LaGuer, and anyway, “you don’t address that to the parole board,” Patrick said. “The only thing you can address to the parole board is his readiness for parole.”
But if he didn’t know LaGuer, it’s difficult to see how he could make a responsible assessment of that readiness.
“I had corresponded with him,” Patrick noted later. “You get an impression of him from that correspondence.”
What can you say, other than, “Oof”?
To repeat, there was nothing wrong with Patrick’s pushing for a DNA test for LaGuer, who was widely believed to be innocent until he flunked said test in 2002. Nor was there anything wrong with Patrick’s legal work on behalf of a cop-killer facing the death penalty. But his correspondence with LaGuer was way too supportive, and the way he’s handling the fallout has been wretched.
And Jon Keller reports that it’s about to get worse.
Patrick is very lucky that Kerry Healey’s only positive themes are that she’s going to do in her next four years what she and Mitt Romney failed to do in the previous four.