May 24, 2010
Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall and
Chief Justice for Administration & Management Robert A. Mulligan
The recent media coverage of the Office of the Commissioner of Probation raises serious issues concerning the hiring and promotion of probation officers and other management practices within the Probation Department of the Trial Court. We are deeply concerned with not only the proper administration of the Probation Department, but with how such reports may affect the public’s perception of the integrity of all aspects of the judicial branch. The reporting by the Boston Globe Spotlight Team requires a full, prompt and independent inquiry.
Therefore, in consultation with Chief Justice Mulligan, the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court have appointed Paul F. Ware Jr., Esquire, as Independent Counsel with the powers of Special Master and Commissioner to conduct an inquiry into the management practices and procedures of the Probation Department that have given rise to these concerns.
Mr. Ware is a senior trial counsel at the Boston law firm of Goodwin Procter, where he has been a partner since 1978. He has previously served as trial counsel for the Office of Independent Counsel in connection with aspects of the Iran Contra Investigation, and as Special Counsel to the Commission on Judicial Conduct. In March 2007, the Attorney General appointed him as a Special Assistant Attorney General assigned to oversee the criminal investigation into the July 2006 Central Artery Tunnel collapse.
Pending completion of Independent Counsel’s inquiry and report, Commissioner of Probation John J. O’Brien is placed on administrative leave, effective immediately. Ronald P. Corbett, Jr., Executive Director of the Supreme Judicial Court and the former Deputy Commissioner of Probation, is appointed the acting administrator of the Probation Department until further notice.
We know that there are many dedicated employees of the Probation Department who perform their professional duties every day, ensuring public safety while providing appropriate guidance to and supervision of persons placed in their charge as probationers. We are committed to working with them and others throughout the judicial branch to ensure that the highest standards of excellence in all aspects of judicial administration will continue to be met. Probation has long been a vital part of the Judiciary and we will continue to ensure that it provides a safe, effective alternative to costly incarceration for appropriate offenders.
See attached Order of the Supreme Judicial Court