DeLeo flexes muscle on court reform

House votes 152-0 to keep probation in judiciary, away from governor

Speaker Robert DeLeo showed off some serious political muscle today when the House voted 152-0 to reform the courts and retain the embattled Probation Department within the judicial branch rather than under the governor’s office.

The bill now moves on to the Senate where Senate President Therese Murray has indicated she favors keeping the Probation Department where it is. The overwhelming support in the House is a major blow to Gov. Deval Patrick, who wanted to merge probation with parole in the executive branch, and a victory for Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Roderick Ireland, who sided with DeLeo.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

The Probation Department became the center of controversy last year after numerous reports and an investigation by an independent counsel showed legislators, including DeLeo, were able to secure jobs for friends, family, and supporters at the Probation Department in exchange for increased power and bigger budgets for Probation Commissioner John J. O’Brien.

Under DeLeo’s bill, the Trial Court would create the post of court administrator to handle the business and hiring functions of the system, relieving Robert Mulligan, the chief justice of administration and management, of those responsibilities. The measure calls for candidates for probation and court officer jobs to take a written test but not be subject to Civil Service. The bill also would require recommendations for all state jobs, not just those in the courts, to be made in writing and the recommendations of the winning candidates open to the public. Officials doing hiring would not be allowed to see the recommendations until the field of candidates is finalized.

“Not only does this bill create a civilian administrator to oversee the business aspects of the Trial Court, but it also adds needed transparency to the hiring and promotion practices at the Department of Probation,” DeLeo said in a statement after the vote. “By passing this reorganization bill, the House has committed to bring a more transparent, efficient system of justice to the people of Massachusetts.”