Governor’s councilors seem supportive of Jubinville nomination
Devaney raises questions about conflict of interest
THE GOVERNOR’S COUNCIL on Wednesday considered one of their own – Councilor Robert Jubinville – as a nominee for a clerk magistrate’s job. The half-hour hearing was mainly a lovefest, although one councilor, Marilyn Devaney, raised concerns about the apparent conflict of interest posed by Jubinville’s nomination.
Councilor Chris Iannella, who chaired the hearing, echoed the sentiment of several of his colleagues when he jokingly asked Jubinville a single question: “Can you give us assurance that at your retirement party you’ll invite the Governor’s Council?”
In one of his last judicial nominations, Gov. Charlie Baker picked Jubinville, a Democrat, for a lifetime appointment as clerk magistrate of Framingham District Court. The nomination must be confirmed by the Governor’s Council on which Jubinville has sat for a decade. The base pay for a clerk magistrate in 2021, according to state payroll data, was $155,000.
The last time Baker chose a sitting governor’s councilor for a judicial post was in 2019, when he nominated Jennie Caissie, the only Republican member of the Governor’s Council and a political supporter of Baker, to be clerk magistrate in Dudley District Court.
Jubinville, a Milton defense lawyer, was just elected to a sixth term on the Governor’s Council. He began his law career as a defense lawyer in 1979 working for two private law firms before opening his own law office in 1996. He is a US Army veteran and a former State Police detective.
His public hearing was marred by COVID-19 and some technical difficulties. Three councilors were participating remotely. Two of them – Terrence Kennedy and Paul DePalo – said they were sick with COVID-19 for a second time. The third, Mary Hurley, said she was the only councilor not to have gotten COVID and she wants to keep it that way. Perhaps due to the prevalence of COVID among the councilors, Jubinville, appearing in the council chambers, declined to remove his mask even when Devaney invited him to do so and noted that the councilors were sitting six feet apart.
The livestream of the hearing was not working for the first few minutes of the hearing, so the three councilors and anyone watching remotely missed Jubinville’s opening remarks.
That did not, however, prompt any additional questions from those councilors. Kennedy quipped to Jubinville, a practicing attorney, “Have you ever actually done a trial?” before making clear that he was only kidding. “The beauty with Bob is we all know him better than any nominee that’s come before us,” Kennedy said. “It’s a home run. There’s nothing to talk about. We’re going to miss you on the council.”
DePalo declined to ask any questions, and Councilor Eileen Duff asked Jubinville only if he thinks there is a dress code in the courts. (Jubinville said no.)
Iannella strongly praised his colleague, calling him “a superstar” and one of the smartest governor’s councilors he has served with. “No one has more experience in the judicial system than Bob,” Iannella said. “He exercises unbelievable judgment…utmost character…he’s calm, he’s cool, he’s always on his game.”
The one vocal skeptic was Devaney, who has long been critical of the Baker administration for what she has described as patronage appointments. Devaney called it “historic” that Jubinville was nominated for a clerk magistrate job at virtually the same time that his daughter, Sarah Jubinville, applied for and was nominated and confirmed as a District Court judge. She questioned Jubinville on why he had not yet resigned from the Governor’s Council, since he asked Caissie to resign. She also quizzed him on why he did not wait for the next administration to apply for a position, to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest after he voted on all the Baker administration’s nominees.
Caissie, now working as a clerk magistrate, made clear that she did not hold Jubinville’s vote against her nomination against him, submitting a letter in support of Jubinville’s confirmation. Caissie, in that letter, called Jubinville “a consummate professional” and said she has been impressed by “his command of law, demeanor, and compassion for others.”