By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Judge Tuttman and the truth

The easy vilification of Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman, the Mitt Romney-appointed judge who freed Daniel Tavares, is looking more problematic by the day. Tavares, who’d been imprisoned for killing his mother, is now suspected of murdering a couple in Washington state.

Earlier this week, the Boston Herald reported that an oversight by Tuttman’s office several years ago, when she was an Essex County prosecutor, resulted in a child rapist’s being improperly released from prison rather than recommitted in civil court.

But, now, Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett tells Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reporter Noah Schaffer that Tuttman was being “magnanimous” when she took the rap in a 2005 interview with the Daily Item of Lynn. And an anonymous source informs Schaffer that the paperwork had landed on the desk of an assistant court clerk and died there. As a prosecutor, Tuttman would have had no authority over a clerk, who was an employee of the judiciary.

Also, in an editorial, Lawyers Weekly presents a strong argument that the bail hearing leading to Tavares’ release was, from the point of view of any judge, absolutely routine, and that if there was any fault to be apportioned, it was a failure on the law-enforcement side to place all relevant facts before Judge Tuttman.

There’s also an especially nice description of a Herald column by WTKK (96.9 FM) talk-show host Michael Graham: “a lazy rant … that was bereft of any sort of research whatsoever,” leading up to “a caveman-level conclusion: that Tuttman had been appointed only because Romney wanted to add some ‘chicks’ to the bench.”

Finally, Jonathan Saltzman and Keith O’Brien report in the Boston Globe today that the Bristol County district attorney’s office had evidence that Tavares had killed a Fall River woman — Tavares actually led officials to her grave in 2000 — but that Tavares was never charged.

Add this earlier report that the Worcester County DA’s office had been lax in tracking down Tavares, and you begin to see that blaming Tuttman for what happened — or, at least, blaming Tuttman solely for what happened — is ridiculous.


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7 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Aw, c’mon…. why let facts get in the way of instantaneous, inflamatory opinion based on presuming the worst and intellectual laziness?

  2. Anonymous

    EB3 here,Now that’s what I have been talking about.

  3. Dan Kennedy

    EB3: You were ahead of everybody on this.

  4. Anonymous

    dan – how do you account for the fact that Tuttman in essence overturned two $50K bails (total $100K) set on tavares by a lower judge? was that judge a bonehead? it’s such a dodge to say the judge had no latitude on bail — judges have wide discretion in these matters. blame to go around, yes. graham a putz, yes. tuttman handcuffed by the system? feh.

  5. jeff

    Dan, You are right on the money. Also, it is interesting that the moment there was a hint of a controversy, Romney cut and ran. The man is only loyal to himself. Compare this to then ADA Tuttman who took the hit for something she had nothing to do with.

  6. BECKER662

    I THINK JUDGE TUTTMAN SHOULD BE CHARGED WITH ACSESORY TO MURDER.SHE RELEASED A CONVICTED KILLER WHO KILLED HIS OWN MOTHER.’KOOL GUY’THEN KILLS 2 BEAUTIFUL YOUNG PEOPLE IN WASHINGTON.IF TUTTMAN HAD NOT MADE HER DECISION WOULD 2 YOUNG PEOPLE BE ALIVE TODAY?O WELL MAYBE A VOLCANO WIILL HAVE KILLED THEM.

  7. Anonymous

    The reasons for the release remain unclear.Perhaps there should be a rule: a judge who reverses bail should take the inmate to the judge’s home for the first day. After all, if the person is fit to be released into society, then they should be fit to go to the judge’s home.

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