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Martha Coakley — a tale of two cases

Things keep getting worse for Martha Coakley. In her latest gaffe, as Scott notes below, she claimed that legendary Red Sox pitcher Curt Shilling is a Yankee fan.
I’ve been inclined to believe that, to some extent, Coakley is simply “snake-bitten.” In other words, she’s not as gaffe-prone as she seems — who could be? — she’s just in a downward spiral.
On the other hand, how do we explain Coakley’s deplorable and inconsistent conduct as a prosecutor in two high profile child-abuse allegation cases? In the first, Gerald “Tookie” Amirault was convicted of child abuse based on wild allegations ( Dorothy Rabinowitz calls them perhaps the most astounding ever to be credited in an American courtroom) that had been discredited by the time Coakley became involved in the case. Yet Coakley did everything she could to keep Amirault behind bars. For example, before agreeing to revise his sister’s sentence to time served, Coakley asked the Amiraults’ attorney to pledge, in exchange, that he would stop representing Gerald and undertake no further legal action on his behalf. The attorney of course refused to engage in this unethical course of action.
In 2001, the Massachusetts Governor’s Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 5-0, with one abstention, to commute Amirault’s sentence. A majority added a statement noting the lack of evidence against the Amiraults and the “extraordinary if not bizarre allegations” on which they had been convicted. According to Rabinowitz, editorials in every major and minor paper in the state applauded the Board’s findings.
However, Coakley organized a campaign to persuade the Governor, Jane Swift, to reject the board’s ruling. Swift ultimately did so, causing Amirault to serve two more years.
Now consider Coakley’s conduct in a 2005 case in which a Somerville police officer was charged with raping his 23-month-old niece with a hot object, most likely a curling iron. A Middlesex County grand jury, which Coakley oversaw, investigated the matter without taking action. Only after the toddler’s mother filed applications for criminal complaints did Coakley secure indictments charging rape and assault and battery. Coakley’s office then recommended that Winfield be released on personal recognizance, with no cash bail. He remained free until December 2007, when Coakley’s successor as district attorney won a conviction and two life terms based in part on the officer’s own statements upon his arrest.
Why did the rapist receive such favorable treatment from Coakley? The lawyer (now deceased) who was hired by the family of the victim believed that Coakley acted as she did because the father of the defendant, a union representative, was raising money and obtaining endorsements for her campaign for Massachusetts Attorney General.
That would explain why Coakley, so unyielding in her persecution of a child-abuse defendant against whom the evidence was weak, acted so leniently in her treatment of a defendant against whom the evidence, including his own statements, apparently was strong.
Not long ago, Coakley’s record didn’t matter because the Senate race appeared not to be competitive. Now that it’s a dogfight, the Dems are stuck with a candidate whose record doesn’t bear scrutiny and who can’t get out of her own way. How lovely.

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