Ortiz sides with Walsh on records
US Attorney Carmen Ortiz, whose office is suspected of being the source of leaks for Boston Globe stories about her investigation of union strong-arming tactics, is now saying that investigation would be compromised if Boston Mayor Marty Walsh releases to the Globe documents Ortiz has demanded as part of the probe.
Citing a memorandum he received from federal prosecutors, Suffolk Superior Court Judge Robert Tochka on Tuesday reversed an earlier provisional ruling in which he ordered the Walsh administration to comply with a Globe public records request for any subpoenas the administration had received in connection with the union probe and any documents supplied in response to those subpoenas.
Tochka said in his ruling that he changed his mind after receiving the confidential memorandum from US prosecutors. “This court concludes, based on the reasons articulated in the memorandum, that the city has now met its burden of showing that complying with the Globe’s request would compromise a grand jury investigation,” he wrote in his decision.
The strange turn of events represents a major setback for the Globe and a big victory for Walsh. It also raises interesting questions about Ortiz’s endgame.
To keep the story going, the Globe then hit on the novel idea of filing a public records request for all subpoenas received by the Walsh administration and any documents produced in response to those subpoenas. Walsh refused to comply, saying turning over the documents, if they existed, could compromise a grand jury investigation.
The Globe disagreed, saying in an editorial that there is no legal restriction on grand jury witnesses discussing their testimony or sharing information sought by federal prosecutors. “There’s no justification for continuing to use the investigation as a shield,” the Globe editorial said.
The Globe appealed the city’s decision to the state’s supervisor of public records and won. Walsh still refused to comply, so the paper appealed to Tochka, who initially sided with the newspaper before reversing course on Tuesday.
Ortiz is the big mystery in all of this. If her office leaked the original wiretap information, as many suspect, why is it now trying to clamp down on the release of subpoenas and other documents? Whatever the reason, her office apparently made a convincing case to Judge Tochka.
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