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.