Possible Probation witness lists filed
DeLeo, Murray, Weld, Ireland named
The prosecution and defense teams in the federal corruption trial of former Probation commissioner John J. O’Brien on Tuesday filed lists of people they may call as witnesses, including House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Therese Murray, Rep. Garrett Bradley, former Gov. William Weld, and Roderick Ireland, the chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.
The lists, requested by the judge in the trial to determine if he has any conflicts with potential witnesses that might force him to recuse himself, is of special interest to Massachusetts political observers because defense lawyers on Monday revealed that prosecutors had granted immunity to a number of lawmakers in exchange for their testimony. It is unclear from the names on the prosecutors’ list who received immunity and who did not. A grant of immunity does not mean someone has committed or is believed to have committed a crime, but it protects them from possible prosecution should they say something that could trigger charges.
Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV ordered both sides to submit the lists as he considers a motion by defense lawyers to recuse himself from the trial because of his friendship with Judge Timothy Hillman, who Saylor worked with when both were in federal district court in Worcester.
Prosecutors listed 18 lawmakers, including members of DeLeo’s leadership team such as Bradley, a former prosecutor whose wife is a judge, and Rep. David Nangle, vice chairman of the House Ethics Committee. The list from the government names three senators who have left public office, including former Sen. John Hart of South Boston.
Among the surprises was who was not on prosecutors’ list: Rep. Thomas Petrolati, the former speaker pro tempore who has been dubbed the “King of Patronage” for his involvement in getting people jobs. Defense attorneys included Petrolati on their list.Attorneys are typically required to file a list of potential witnesses as a trial begins in order to allow their opponents to question jurors if they know someone who might be a witness. But that process is usually done at the start of the trial, which is still a month away.
The lists filed on Tuesday give each side an early heads-up on what their counterparts might be planning in strategy. But the lists are not binding. Because someone’s name appears on a list does not mean they will be called to testify, nor does the absence of someone’s name mean they have escaped a date on the witness stand.