The former acting sheriff of Norfolk County, Robert Harnais, is up for a $184,694-a-year job as a state judge, and his hearing before the Governor’s Council is scheduled for Wednesday.
Question: Will Harnais be asked about how he was charged with assault and battery in 2002 by the Braintree Police, and his acquittal seven months later?
Or does the fact that Harnais has spent a lifetime on public payrolls and has contributed $80,139.36 to assorted pols (among them a convicted felon, an unindicted co-conspirator and a pol who committed suicide before he was to be indicted) inoculate this hack’s hack from having to answer any embarrassing questions?
I think we all know the answer to that question.
The Governor’s Council won’t say boo to one of their own. Professional courtesy, it’s called.
Actually, it’s probably not such a bad thing for a judge to have been lugged at least once or twice. In Massachusetts, most of our very ethical, honest judges don’t get arrested or shamed until after they’ve already wedged their snouts into the trough.
Think drunk driving, sticky fingers at Logan or Downtown Crossing, racial slurs, jumping the courthouse help, leaving the scene etc., etc.
Regarding his A&B rap, the former sheriff gave only the briefest of statements to the Judicial Nominating Commission when he applied for his $184,694-a-year post.
The Nominating Commission inquires of all those seeking judgeships if there’s anything “that might reflect adversely on your personal or professional background and qualifications or otherwise have an impact on your ability to serve?”
To which Harnais responded:
“In April 2002 I was charged with Assault and Battery in Quincy District Court. In November, 2002 I was found not guilty.”
I began calling his law office last week asking for details about his brush with the law. He did not respond. So last week I called the Braintree Police Department and filed a formal request for Harnais’ A&B incident report.
In less than an hour my request for “Incident report 20,5086,” as the cops referred to it, was rejected “under exemption of Domestic Violence and Rape Reports.”
“All reports of rape and sexual assault or attempts to commit such offenses, all reports of abuse perpetrated by family or household members … shall not be public reports.”
That’s the reason his own local police department says I can’t get the arrest report on the former sheriff and future judge.
But the report, the police said, shall be released “upon written request to the victim.”
I called Harnais back and left a message at his office requesting that he ask his victim to release the report. I telephoned his office again Monday asking him to hand over the police report. He did not return any of my calls.
Seriously, when a lifelong hack is about to take early retirement worth millions of dollars at age 58, don’t the taxpayers have a right to know what went down.
When the phone didn’t ring, I knew it was the former probation officer not getting back to me.
Speaking of the probation department, that’s where Harnais began his lucrative career in the hackerama, more than 30 years ago, after graduating from UMass Boston.
Remember the probation department scandal, patronage out of control, multiple federal indictments on corruption charges? The House speaker, Robert DeLeo, was named as an unindicted co-conspirator.
Wouldn’t you know it, Harnais has handed DeLeo $1,950 over the years.
But his biggest fan in the hackerama, as you might expect, is Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. Harnais has given her $5,000 over the last few years.
Gov. Charlie Baker got $4,000 from Harnais. Then Tall Deval nominated him for the judgeship.
Harnais was briefly the sheriff of Norfolk County in 2018 after his longtime hack patron, Sheriff Mike Bellotti, found an even softer landing in the hackerama. Over the years, Harnais gave his boss $4,000.
Harnais remains the Norfolk County sheriff’s “general counsel.” By coincidence, he’s given the current sheriff Gerry McDermott, his new employer, $2,000.
Bellotti’s a Democrat, McDermott a Republican. So what? In the hackerama, it’s not about blue or red, it’s about the green, the do-re-mi.
Harnais’ hometown of Braintree is next to Quincy, and they’re both pretty shady places when you get right down to it. Harnais’ law office is in Quincy, and somehow he used to be on the city planning board, even though he doesn’t live there. Unusual, you might say.
He’s duked the mayor of Quincy, Tom Koch, $4,750, as well as $1,750 to the unindicted co-conspirator’s majority leader from Quincy, Rep. Ronnie Mariano.
Harnais has also contributed over the years to disgraced Lt. Gov. Tim “Crash” Murray, jailbird ex-House speaker Sal DiMasi, and Middlesex Sheriff Jim DiPaola, who committed suicide when he was about to be indicted.
If you go to the website of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, you can see all the reasons why Harnais is going to get a pass from the Governor’s Council — 80,139 reasons, to be exact, all of which have George Washington’s picture on them.
In the halls of justice, the only justice is in the halls.