Petrolati renews bid to quash subpoena
SJC expected to hear oral arguments in case on Tuesday
Rep. Thomas Petrolati today renewed his efforts to quash a subpoena issued by the independent counsel investigating patronage at the Probation Department, saying it raises “delicate separation of powers and political issues.”
Petrolati, the third-ranking member of the House leadership team, said even if the Supreme Judicial Court declines to quash the subpoena, it should require independent counsel Paul F. Ware to produce an interim report so the court can determine whether the subpoena is even necessary.
The SJC appointed Ware to investigate patronage at the Probation Department, which is part of the judicial branch, following a report on the agency by The Boston Globe. The SJC is now being asked to rule on the legality of the subpoena Ware issued to Petrolati, who The Globe described as the “king of patronage” in courthouses west of Worcester. Oral arguments are expected in the case on Tuesday.
Petrolati has argued that the SJC retained Ware to investigate wrongdoing within the judiciary and he has no business issuing subpoenas to officials outside that branch of government. Ware has argued that he needs to follow the evidence wherever it leads and said Petrolati can refuse to answer if he feels his comments would incriminate him.
“There can be no doubt that the subpoena is to petitioner in his official capacity as a prominent member of the leadership team of the legislative branch of the government, which squarely triggers the consideration of separation of powers issues in this matter,” wrote Petrolati’s attorney John Pucci.The Petrolati motion says Ware’s subpoena asks for records involving 95 individuals dating to 1998, the year probation commissioner John O’Brien was appointed. O’Brien was placed on paid leave after The Globe report and Ware’s appointment.
“However legitimate the court’s concerns may be about the hiring and promotion practices in the Probation Department, those concerns should not be allowed to drive an ill-advised decision of far-reaching import on the statutory and constitutional issues at hand,” the Petrolati motion says.