April 24, 2012

Goodwin Procter Then and Now: Fighting Corruption

As Goodwin Procter celebrates its centennial anniversary in 2012, the firm’s efforts to help the Commonwealth of Massachusetts fight corruption in the state’s criminal justice system are highlighted “then and now.”

Then:  Sam Hoar Heads Commission to Reform Pardon Laws

In 1938, a public furor erupted when the Massachusetts governor pardoned New England Mafia boss Raymond Patriarca. The resulting uproar led the legislature to establish a commission to investigate the state’s pardon and parole procedures.

Goodwin Procter partner Sam Hoar V, with colleague Don Hurley as his lieutenant, headed the commission, whose resulting investigation led to a reformation of the pardon laws and impeachment of a member of the Governor’s Council.

More than 70 years later, the Commonwealth would once again call on Goodwin Procter lawyers to examine alleged corruption in the state’s parole office.

Now:  Paul Ware Exposes Pervasive Fraud in State Probation Department

At the behest of Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court, Goodwin Procter partner Paul Ware, Jr. undertook an exhaustive investigation of alleged improprieties across the State’s Probation Department in 2010. The Ware Report, representing almost 5,000 hours of pro bono work by an 11-person Goodwin team, documented widespread corruption within the agency with regard to hiring and promotion of probation officers. The Massachusetts SJC agreed with the report’s findings and ordered court officials to fire the probation commissioner, suspend his senior lieutenants and ask prosecutors to weigh criminal charges.

The department originally came under fire after a series of investigative reports in The Boston Globe.  Ware was appointed as independent counsel by the SJC in May 2010 and his team’s 307-page report, based on the testimony of nearly 100 witnesses and review of 525,000 documents, was publically released in November 2010.

Ware’s report concluded that Probation Department Commissioner John J. O’Brien and his lieutenants oversaw a hiring system that was rigged “on a grand scale,’’ conducting thousands of phony job interviews when the positions had already been promised to politically connected candidates. Ware found that O’Brien had completely politicized the 2,000-employee department, giving jobs to candidates backed by state legislators while illegally pressuring employees to contribute to campaigns of key allies.

The state agency was subsequently overhauled based on the report’s findings. To learn more, please click here.