DA Early

The Massachusetts District Attorneys have elected Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early, Jr. as the new President of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association.  

“My goal as president is to be a consensus builder with my colleagues on a wide range of public safety issues,” Mr. Early said. “I also want to help address the needs of our hard-working and often underpaid ADAs.”   

First elected in 2006 and re-elected after running unopposed in 2010, DA Early works with the law enforcement agencies in the 60 cities and towns that make up the Worcester District.  He oversees a law office of more than 70 prosecutors, the operation of 11 District Courts, Superior Court, Juvenile Court, three six-member jury sessions, the grand jury and an appeals division.  

A hallmark of DA Early’s tenure as District Attorney is his work in juvenile justice and crime prevention.  “I would much rather prevent a crime than have to solve a crime,” DA Early said.  The number of Worcester’s annual juvenile delinquency complaints has dropped significantly under his tenure, from about 4,000 to 3,000.  “I think swift justice works best with juveniles.  We attempt to get the case tried in a timely manner so the entire experience will likely have a greater impact on the juvenile.  As time passes, the juvenile can lose the connection between his actions and the consequences of those actions.”

DA Early utilizes an extensive and active outreach program for youth.  In addition to his work in the school system, DA Early sponsors at-risk youth at summer camps and provides a Diversion Program for first-time offenders charged with minor crimes.  The Diversion Program allows certain young adults to perform community service and complete a course instead of going forward with their case in District Court.  “Instead of having mom or dad pay the fine and court costs for their case, these young adults are contributing to the community and keeping their record clean.”

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Georgetown University Law Center, DA Early began his legal career as an assistant district attorney in the Hampden District Attorney’s office and spent two years in the trial division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. From 1990 until taking his current oath of office, DA Early ran his own law office in Worcester, specializing in civil and criminal litigation.

A lifelong resident of Worcester, DA Early is the oldest of eight children born to former Congressman Joseph D. Early and Marilyn (Powers) Early.  Mr. Early and his wife Judy have four children.

DA Early succeeds Bristol District Attorney C. Samuel Sutter as MDAA President.

The District Attorneys also elected Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe as MDAA’s Vice President and President-Elect.  O’Keefe, who also served as MDAA President in 2007-2008, was elected District Attorney in 2002, having served as First Assistant District Attorney for eight years and as a prosecutor for more than 25 years under the late Philip A. Rollins, who was the Cape & Island’s District Attorney for 31 years and retired in 2003.

The MDAA is an independent state agency that provides business technology, training and policy coordination to the eleven Massachusetts District Attorneys, who collectively oversee offices of 1400 prosecutors, victim-witness advocates and support staff.