Baker: Dangerousness hearings a priority

Governor: Problem is not with judges but the law


EXPECTED TO TALK about cancer research and philanthropy, Gov. Charlie Baker instead found himself Tuesday morning trying to earn support from a sports talk radio show for forthcoming legislation dealing with criminal dangerousness.

Baker joined Gerry Callahan and Kirk Minihane in studio on WEEI’s “Kirk & Callahan” on Tuesday morning as part of the 2018 WEEI NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. After a brief discussion of cancer treatment advances and President Donald Trump, Minihane raised the topic of criminal suspects who commit crimes while out on bail and the judges who make the decisions around bail.

“You’ve got a big audience right now … why can’t you just say you don’t think Jeanmarie Carroll should be a judge anymore?” he asked, referring to the Quincy District Court judge who, according to MassLive, set bail for accused Weymouth cop-killer Emanuel Lopes at $500 for a drug charge last year. “What’s getting in the way of you saying that right now?”

The governor did not directly address the Lopes case or Carrol,l but instead told the WEEI morning talkers that the real problem is with the laws that judges must follow around dangerousness hearings and when it comes to setting bail.

“I think the biggest issue we face with the judiciary right now is we do not have the kind of laws — OK? That’s a different issue than a decision a judge makes — but we don’t have the kind of laws we should have with respect to dangerousness,” Baker said. “There is a very limited number of circumstances in which a district attorney can call for a dangerousness hearing in Massachusetts.”

Baker said his administration has been talking with district attorneys, law enforcement, and the court system and “we’re going to file a bill in September to deal with this dangerousness question.”

Minihane, who told Baker that he and Callahan have previously been critical of him, continued to press the governor about why judges don’t “face anything” and rattled off a list of criminals or criminal suspects who committed high-profile crimes while out on bail, including NESN broadcaster Jerry Remy’s son, Jared, who murdered his girlfriend after being released on personal recognizance two days earlier.

“OK, the Remy judge is a great example. The reason we changed the dangerousness statute for domestic violence cases in Massachusetts was the Remy case. It was the classic example of you should learn from the fact that we had real problems with our laws,” Baker said. “I say this all the time, Kirk, no think of it this way, Kirk. If you don’t like a decision a judge makes and something happens to the judge, if the law is still bad the problem you’re going to have is going to happen again and again and again.”

Minihane agreed with Baker but asked, “You have to admit these were mistakes. You think Jeanmarie Caroll did a good job?”

Baker responded, “If they’re working within the framework of the law then the problem is the law.”

Callahan asked Baker if Salem Superior Court Judge Timothy Feeley, who has been under fire over controversial rulings, worked “within the framework of the law when he released a heroin dealer because he was an illegal alien.”

Baker pushed back on Callahan by saying that he has “huge issues with everything associated with the way the Feeley thing was handled” and added that, if the Massachusetts House had advanced a bill of address seeking the removal of Feeley, “we would have been happy to talk to them about it.”

Minihane then asked Baker, “Why don’t you just forget the ifs, why don’t you just say you want that person out, Feeley, out? Why not? You’re the governor of the state.”

Baker said he “can’t do that” because it must start with the Legislature and claimed he was “the first one to start talking about” the issues with Feeley.

“You guys need to understand that a problem like the one we face now gets obfuscated if you make it about the personalities,” he said. “We have a problem with the law and that’s where the focus really ought to be on this one.”

At another point in the interview, he added, “when we file that dangerousness statute in September, I hope you guys come out hard for it because this is the kind of thing where you can make it about one person if you want to but the problem here is not about one person, the problem here is about the statute.”

After five minutes of back-and-forth on judicial issues, Baker attempted to steer the conversation back to the cancer research of the Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

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“So are we going to talk about the Jimmy Fund or are we going to talk about politics?” the governor asked.

The co-hosts then let Baker talk about other cancer research events he participates in and having his head shaved for charity next to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady before ending the interview by saying they’ll be onboard with his dangerousness legislation next month.