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Worcester lawyer rejected for district judge post
Gov.’s Council rejects Anderson
By John J. Monahan TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
BOSTON — The Governor’s Council has rejected the nomination of Worcester lawyer and former Worcester County Bar Association president Stephen R. Anderson as a Worcester District Court judge.
The rejection came on a 4-3 vote after several members said Mr. Anderson was not truthful about the circumstances surrounding his departure from a Worcester law firm he worked for until 1994.
His opponents on the council also said his 30 years of experience as an insurance litigator did not provide him with experience in criminal matters and restraining orders, which would demand most of his time as a district court judge.
“Certainly I’m disappointed. I was not at (last week’s) hearing, but there was testimony from several judges who are currently on the bench about the need for someone with real experience in the civil side of things,” said Lt. Gov. Timothy P. Murray, who presided over Wednesday’s vote as one of his last official duties in his current post.
Mr. Murray is resigning Sunday to start a new job as president and chief executive of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s the Governor’s Council’s prerogative, but I think, unfortunately, someone who had real value did not have the votes today,” Mr. Murray said, adding, “We have seen a lot of close votes with this governor’s council.”
He said he knows Mr. Anderson but does not consider him a personal friend. “We have never gone out socially,” he said.
Mr. Anderson, a Worcester resident, is a staff lawyer and senior trial lawyer for Safety Insurance Co. He previously was a staff counsel for Hanover Insurance Co. and served as president of the Worcester County Bar Association from 2008 to 2009.
Although Gov. Deval L. Patrick is spending the week at his Western Massachusetts home, he came to the Statehouse Wednesday in case he was needed to preside over the council so Mr. Murray could cast a deciding vote in the event of a tie.
The governor has used that procedure to get several judges through the Governor’s Council.
But no tie vote developed, as Governor’s Council member Michael Albano, who could have cast a vote to bring the nomination to a 4-4 tie, was absent.
Council member Robert L. Jubinville of Milton said Mr. Anderson’s background in insurance law gave him no experience in criminal matters, which take up 85 percent of the district court duties, and no experience in restraining order law.
“He admits he wouldn’t be hired by a criminal firm, yet he wants the commonwealth to hire him to do 90 percent criminal work in our district court,” Mr. Jubinville said.
Council member Marilyn M. Devaney of Watertown said two former law partners who worked with Mr. Anderson at the law office of Milton, Laurence and Dixon testified at last week’s hearing on the nomination that Mr. Anderson was asked to leave the firm in September 1994 for not carrying his share of the firm’s work.
She said they complained that he spent too many afternoons playing golf without making up the time, and that he delegated work to other lawyers. Ms. Devaney said that Mr. Anderson gave a different account.
On his questionnaire applying for the position, she said Mr. Anderson answered “no” to the question of whether he had ever been discharged from employment or had ever resigned after being told an employer was going to discharge him.
She said he refused to answer “yes or no” when asked directly by two council members at the hearing whether he had been told he was being terminated in 1994.
“Mr. Anderson said he was offered a job in November that started in December,” she said, adding that in a letter to the council Mr. Anderson stated it was in October that he was told of his termination by Mr. Laurence and that he had told him then that he had been offered another job.
“This is a baldfaced lie,” Ms. Devaney argued. “Attorney Laurence said that Anderson never at any time made this comment to him and that Anderson was not working for the firm in October 1994 and all the partners of this firm voted unanimously to terminate him from the firm Sept. 30, 1994.”
Council member Jennie L. Caissie of Oxford said Mr. Anderson’s lack of criminal experience kept her from supporting the nomination.
“This nominee, by his own admission, very candidly, has no criminal law experience and no experience in restraining orders. I cannot and will not compromise public safety for on-the-job training for a nominee that has no experience in criminal law. I will not do it,” she said.
Mr. Patrick nominated Mr. Anderson to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Dennis J. Brennan.
Was District Eight Councilor Albano's absence from Anderson's nomination hearing designed to help Mike Albano politically? He was the only member of the Executive Board not present. Did he learn these slippery antics from our Commander In Chief? Probably not.. Mr. Albano has been around a long, long time, even though no one could find him for over 10 years after the FBI investigation. I’m quite sure indeed that Mike already knew how to escape and evade. In summary, however, where was our representation in the Council that day? I inquirer as a humble and common constituent: Did Mr. Albano properly exercise due diligence on our behalf?