News

AG hopeful Coakley eyes a wide agenda

By Shaun Sutner
The Worcester Telegram and Gazette
September 17, 2005

The woman who could be the state’s next attorney general is perhaps best known in Central Massachusetts as the determined investigator who has pursued the serial killer believed to have killed three Worcester women and dumped their bodies in Hudson and Marlboro.

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Coakley praises businesswomen

By Ellen Lahr
The Berkshire Eagle
September 16, 2005

Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley, a Democrat aiming for the attorney general's office in 2006, delivered words of encouragement to the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce luncheon audience at Cranwell Resort yesterday.

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Coakley's lead in AG race seems to defy challengers
Fund-raising, support from women are key

By Raphael Lewis
The Boston Globe
August 6, 2005

There's still more than a year to go before the state Democratic Party nominates its candidate for attorney general, but as far as party officials can determine, the race is already wrapped up, and the nominee is Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley.

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Coakley likens advances by women to a revolution
By Jean Laquidara Hill
Worcester Telegram & Gazette
May 2, 2005

WALTHAM -- Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley likened women's advances to a revolution last night, saying that although women maintain their core values of decades ago, they have made great strides in rights, accomplishments and their roles in work and community.

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Coakley Pitches for AG
By Mary Murray
Metro West Daily News
April 28, 2005

WALTHAM -- Speaking at the monthly Massachusetts Mayors meeting yesterday, Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley spent about 20 minutes outlining what the DA's office can do for local governments.

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DA's office helping area educators, officials recognize and respond to threats By Lynn Worthy
Lowell Sun
April 18, 2005

TYNGSBORO -- The Middlesex District Attorney's office provides teachers and administrators with training and programs to help schools deal with issues of violence, substance abuse, crisis management, and safety.

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Coakley mulling run for AG's post
By Christopher Marcisz
The Berkshire Eagle
April 6, 2005

NORTH ADAMS -- From the podium at the Sullivan Lounge at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley could turn and look out the window at the blue house on Highland Avenue where she grew up.

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Coakley courts Berkshires for likely AG bid
By Jennifer L. Smith
North Adams Transcript
April 6, 2005

NORTH ADAMS -- Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley returned to her hometown of North Adams Tuesday as part of a two-day tour through the Berkshires as she begins her bid for state attorney general in 2006.

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The Glass Ceiling in Massachusetts Politics
By Joan Vennochi
The Boston Globe
March 29, 2005

Sure, the Massachusetts political world is tough on women. And some women make it even tougher.

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Middlesex District Attorney, City Native to Visit Hometown April 5-6
North Adams Transcript
March 26, 2005

NORTH ADAMS -- Martha Coakley, district attorney of the largest court district in Massachusetts since 1999, will visit her hometown on April 5 and 6 as the guest of the North Adams Democratic City Committee. While in the city, she will make several appearances, at least two of which are open to the public.

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Coakley outlining campaign for A-G
By Jennifer Fenn
Sentinel and Enterprise
March 3, 2005

BOSTON -- Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley is laying the groundwork to run for attorney general next year, saying she will seek the office if incumbent Thomas Reilly does not run for re-election.

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Coakley Releases Brochures in Spanish
Cambridge Chronicle
February 10, 2005

CAMBRIDGE -- Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley recently released Spanish language versions of two brochures available through the Middlesex District Attorney’s office. Each brochure contains information on their respective programs related to restraining orders and child abuse, as well as contact information for those who seek additional help.

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Who's Hot... Martha Coakley
Boston Herald
January 9, 2005

The Middlesex District Attorney might be the only wannabe from the never-to-be race to replace Sen. John Kerry to land on her feet -- the early favorite to replace Tom Reilly as attorney general.

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AG hopeful Coakley eyes a wide agenda
By Shaun Sutner
The Worcester Telegram and Gazette
September 17, 2005

The woman who could be the state’s next attorney general is perhaps best known in Central Massachusetts as the determined investigator who has pursued the serial killer believed to have killed three Worcester women and dumped their bodies in Hudson and Marlboro.

But Martha Coakley, the Democratic Middlesex district attorney, wants to be known as more than just the tough prosecutor who gained international attention with the nanny’s case in 1996, when she won a manslaughter conviction of a British au pair who shook a baby to death.

The 52-year-old career prosecutor said she would make the attorney general’s office a major player in homeland security and disaster preparedness, the fight for consumers by protecting pensions and access to health care, and the work to create an encouraging legal climate for emerging industries such as stem-cell research.

“I don’t think the two roles are incompatible. You can be fair and you can be tough,” Ms. Coakley said in a recent interview.

Ms. Coakley, who is the only candidate of either major party to date, is also aware that, if elected next year, she would be Massachusetts’ first woman attorney general.

A North Adams native who graduated from Williams College and Boston University Law School, she is proud of the plaque that her late father gave her, which says: “Sometimes the best man for the job is a woman.”

Ms. Coakley said she would be sensitive to the issues facing female prisoners, such as mental illness and family contact, and she would emphasize education and preventive programs to combat drug addiction and prostitution.

The suspected serial murder case still haunts her, she said, but she is just as concerned with the brutal conditions of the lives of the victims, who were prostitutes and drug addicts from Worcester’s poorest neighborhoods.

“It’s an example of a case that’s really hard to solve. We have no clues. We believe they were killed by the same person, but we have no forensic evidence,” she said. “There’s someone out there who I believe is probably a serial killer. He will strike again.”

Middlesex County has also become the traditional stepping stone for the attorney general’s office, spawning the last two Democrats who won the state’s highest legal office: L. Scott Harshbarger and the current attorney general, Thomas F. Reilly.

So far, Ms. Coakley has pulled off the impressive political feat of intimidating potential competitors by lining up a wide range of Democratic supporters, including prominent women, and capitalizing on her high media profile as head of the state’s biggest and most prominent district attorney’s office. State Sen. Jarrett T. Barrios, a high-profile Cambridge Democrat, was one of those who was scared away after polling showed that Ms. Coakley was too popular to beat.

Even the Republicans have so far been leery of putting up someone against her, although Ms. Coakley, who has raised about $230,000, said she is ready for a well-financed GOP challenger.

Ms. Coakley enjoys another key advantage by following in the footsteps of her old boss and mentor, Mr. Reilly, who is now the Democratic front-runner for governor. She succeeded him as Middlesex DA in 1997, and now wants to replace him again.

Ms. Coakley has diverged from Mr. Reilly on a few key issues.

She is against the death penalty, while he is for it She is an enthusiastic supporter of same-sex marriage, while Mr. Reilly has been perceived as a tepid backer of gay unions.

Thirteen months before next year’s election, Ms. Coakley is already making the rounds in regions of the state where she is not as well-known as in Eastern Massachusetts.

Earlier this week, she spoke at a gathering of Central Massachusetts police chiefs in West Brookfield before heading to a small fund-raising reception in Worcester later in the day.

Next week, she returns to the city for a big-ticket fund-raiser hosted by Worcester County Citizens for Martha Coakley.

The group’s chairmen and 60 members of the host committee are a who’s who of Central Massachusetts Democrats. The list of local supporters spans the political gamut from conservative party leaders such as Sheriff Guy W. Glodis to liberal stalwarts like U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, D-Worcester.

“She is a talented lawyer with a great heart for public service,” said one of the event’s organizers, Worcester County Clerk of Courts Francis A. Ford. “She’s done a great job in Middlesex County and now she’s going to bring that forward for the whole state.”

Ms. Coakley lives with her husband, Thomas F. O’Connor Jr., a retired Cambridge deputy police superintendent, in Medford.

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Coakley praises businesswomen
By Ellen Lahr
The Berkshire Eagle
September 16, 2005

Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley, a Democrat aiming for the attorney general's office in 2006, delivered words of encouragement to the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce luncheon audience at Cranwell Resort yesterday.

Speaking to an audience of women business executives, business owners and employees, the North Adams native and Williams College graduate told the audience that women bring particular strengths to communities through entrepreneurship, personal leadership and an eye to the bottom line.

"Women always did all the work anyway, so we might as well get credit for it," said Coakley, the 52-year-old daughter of the late Edward Coakley, a founder of what is now Coakley Pierpan Dolan & Collins Insurance Agency in North Adams and Williamstown.

Women's abilities to care for themselves, families, schools and finances translate well in the business world, and participation in government and politics is an open door for women, she said.

"The greatest reward comes when you stay involved," she said.

Heading a district attorney's office with 250 employees in a county with 1.5 million people, she is essentially running a business as well as a law enforcement agency. When she took office in 1999, she said, she called on a fellow woman lawyer and business expert to help her manage the budget side of the operation.

She also spoke of what drives her as a prosecutor and candidate for attorney general.

She noted that schools and community resources can sometimes fail to reach children at a young age, resulting in kids who then turn to crime, even when they were identified early on as likely to fall into trouble.

Early intervention can fall short, ultimately costing society more in the long run, and some of the best intervention programs are collaborations between schools, businesses, families and community organizations, she said.

Coakley said she supports legalizing gay marriage in Massachusetts, in part based on her experience of "non-traditional families who are great at raising kids," she said.

"They should have the same benefits as married people," she said.

Speaking briefly after her talk, Coakley outlined her key objectives if she prevails in the 2006 attorney general election: Law enforcement and public security, crime prevention, environmental protection, consumer protection and business retention.

She is concerned about state laws and high living expenses that threaten a "brain drain" from a state that has traditionally been a stronghold for technology initiatives. She said she aims to balance her business concerns with labor issues as well.

"We should lead the way, not prevent progress," she said, referring to state laws that limit biotechnology efforts such as stem cell research.

If elected attorney general, she would be the first woman to hold the position in Massachusetts, she noted.

She opted to run for the job when Attorney General Thomas Reilly announced in the spring that he would challenge Gov. Mitt Romney. Reilly was also Coakley's predecessor as Middlesex District Attorney.

Coakley has been a prosecutor since 1986, and also spent two years working as a special attorney for the U.S. Justice Department in its Boston Organized Crime Strike Force.

She returned to the Middlesex District Attorney's office in 1989, and in 1991 was appointed head of the child protection unit. In 1997, she left to campaign for Reilly's job when he ran for Attorney General.

She has been honored by the Women's Bar Association of Massachusetts and by the YWCA of Boston. She is a 1979 graduate of Boston University School of Law.

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Coakley's lead in AG race seems to defy challengers
Fund-raising, support from women are key

By Ralph Lewis
The Boston Globe
August 6, 2005

There's still more than a year to go before the state Democratic Party nominates its candidate for attorney general, but as far as party officials can determine, the race is already wrapped up, and the nominee is Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley.

The reason? Coakley has lined up the support of several prominent women in Massachusetts politics, has banked more than $200,000, and seems to have scared away any potential challengers from either the Democratic or Republican party, at least so far.

''We haven't heard a whisper of a possible opponent," said Democratic Party spokeswoman Jane Lane. ''Martha Coakley is a very ambitious person, in the best sense of the term, and the other people eyeing that seat knew it. She's a tough opponent, an astute campaigner, and taking her on would not be a walk in the park by any means."

Best known as a lead prosecutor in the ''shaken baby" case involving British au pair Louise Woodward, Coakley has run the state's largest and busiest district attorney's office since Thomas F. Reilly left in 1998 to become attorney general. But with Reilly now running for governor, Coakley is moving to replace him again.

As a result, lawmakers and legal eagles who toyed with the idea of running for attorney general, such as state Senator Jarrett T. Barrios of Cambridge, have instead flocked to try to succeed Coakley in Middlesex County, which as the state's most populous county has served as the proving ground for the past three attorneys general. At least four Democrats are vying for the Middlesex district attorney's office: Barrios, Representatives Michael Festa of Melrose and Peter Koutoujian of Newton, and former assistant US attorney Gerald Leone.

Republicans appear reluctant to take on Coakley, too. To date, no GOP candidate has entered the fray, and party officials acknowledge they are still seeking a willing participant. The short list of possible Republican contenders includes former US attorney Wayne Budd, current US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, and Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe.

''We are in the process of touring the state and meeting with dozens of individuals that we think would be good candidates for attorney general, secretary of state, and auditor and treasurer," said state GOP executive director Tim O'Brien. ''I would think outside of Middlesex County, people do not know who Martha Coakley is. We're looking to recruit somebody who's tough on crime, can raise money, and can give Martha a run for her money."

Still, Coakley is demonstrating an impressive ability to raise campaign cash. State election finance data show the North Adams native had a campaign balance of roughly $226,000 by June 30.

Coakley believes the time is right for the state to elect its first female attorney general and has been wooing support from women. Roughly 200 female power brokers attended a June 1 fund-raiser for Coakley in Boston, and her list of donors includes Senate Ways and Means chairwoman Therese Murray; lawyer and Democratic activist Cheryl Cronin; top City of Boston lawyer Merita Hopkins former state treasurer and current Girl Scouts of Greater Boston chief executive Shannon O'Brien; and at least four other female Democratic lawmakers.

''As my dad said, sometimes the best man for the job is a woman," Coakley said in a phone interview, referring to her now-deceased father, Edward J. Coakley ''He even gave me a plaque to that effect."

Coakley -- a native of the same Berkshire County community as former acting governor Jane Swift, the first woman to hold the state's corner office -- said she believes a woman could bring a unique and valuable perspective to the job of the state's top cop.

''My message to women has been that this is a great opportunity to get involved on issues important to women: civil rights, the gay marriage issue, healthcare issues, regulation of insurance rates," said Coakley, an ardent supporter of the 2003 ruling that legalized same-sex matrimony.

Jim Nuzzo, a Republican political consultant and close observer of state politics, said he is perplexed at the lack of enthusiasm on both sides of the aisle for taking on Coakley, who he believes has vulnerabilities. He pointed to Coakley's role in prosecuting the Fells Acres child sexual abuse case, the first in a wave of day-care abuse trials nationwide that were criticized for the way child witnesses and testimony were handled. ''It's hard to believe people will look at that and see that as a terrific decision to go after that [case]," he said. ''It looks now like prosecutorial abuse." He added, ''It doesn't make any sense to me as to why she's getting a free pass."

But as former head of the Massachusetts Women's Bar Association and the alumna of two Boston law firms, Coakley has deep ties to the state legal establishment that have earned her powerful backers and fund-raisers. For instance, Coakley's campaign for attorney general has received nearly $14,000 from the law and lobbying firm, Mintz Levin Cohn Ferris Glovsky and Popeo, where former state attorney general Francis Bellotti and state Board of Higher Education chairman Stephen P. Tocco work.

Coakley insists the cash is flowing in not because of who she knows, but what she knows. ''They support me because of the work I do," she said.

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Coakley likens advances by women to a revolution
By Jean Laquidara Hill
Worcester Telegram & Gazette
May 2, 2005

Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley likened women's advances to a revolution last night, saying that although women maintain their core values of decades ago, they have made great strides in rights, accomplishments and their roles in work and community.

Speaking to a crowd of roughly 300 people at the annual Women's Recognition Night sponsored by the Patriot weekly newspaper, Ms. Coakley attributed women's accomplishments in part to their ability to "multitask."

"Women like the women here tonight are both the backbone and the glue of all our societies," she said. "Behind every women who's being honored tonight is a man whose been assisted by her," Ms. Coakley said, smiling.

She told the crowd the women's revolution's is building on each accomplishment. For example, she said, recent accomplishments in women's sports started years ago when state law started requiring public schools offer males and females equal sports in public schools.

Every time a woman makes an inroad into a new field, decisions and accomplishments in that field may change because a woman may see something differently than a man. Women law enforcement officers, lawyers and judges may deal with issues impacting women differently than a man would because they have had some of the same experiences as the women they are dealing with, said Ms. Coakley.

There was a time, she said, when it was astounding for women to be hired for some of the jobs they now work in, or make the strides they are now making. "It's no longer astounding," she said. The fact that it is no longer astounding demonstrates the progress women have made, said Ms. Coakley.

Although not raised in this part of the state, Ms. Coakley said her family has a connection to Webster because her grandfather worked in a mill here many years ago, and her father, the late Edward Coakley, attended fifth an sixth grade in Webster.

During her remarks to the audience, Ms. Coakley did not mention her aspirations to become the next state attorney general. In an interview afterward, however, she confirmed her as yet unannounced candidacy. She said she has set up her campaign and is a candidate, but will not announce officially until after Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly announces he is not seeking re-election. "I will not run against Tom," she said, noting that Mr. Reilly has said he wants to run for governor.

Asked why she did not mention the state attorney general's office diring her keynote address, Ms. Coakley said she did not believe it would have been appropriate, because the event was apolitical and was held to honor local women's accomplishments.

Asked when she decided she wanted to be state attorney general, Ms. Coakley said she made the decision in December or January as she reflected on the role she plays as district attorney and how that would expand from criminal law to civil, civil rights, environmental and consumer cases as attorney general.

"I take the jobs one at a time," she said, regarding her career path.

As for when she decided to pursue a career in law and ultimately criminal law, Ms. Coakley said that until she was a freshman or sophomore in college she was unsure whether she wanted to be a lawyer or a journalist, but decided she could better assist people as a lawyer seeking justice for individuals.

"I think I felt I could have the biggest impact on the issues I cared about by being a lawyer, and probably a trial lawyer," she said.

She said she worked as trial lawyer in private practice as well as on her job as assistant district attorney before becoming the Middlesex County District Attorney. Her current role gives her far less trial time, but she said she takes an intense interest in every case that comes before her.

Rather than planning sweeping or dramatic changes in the state attorney general's office if she is elected, Ms. Coakley said she would build on the work being done by Mr. Reilly.

Shepherd Hill Regional High School choral program director Connie Galli, whose academic ensembles and show choirs have earned state and local recognitions, was honored as Woman of the Year.

Katrina C. Breen, owner of Webster Fundamentals, Inc., a preschool, was named Business Woman of the Year. Linda Slota, director of Webster Senior Center, received the Humanitarian Award. Erin Pratt of Pratt Trucking won a business excellence award. Katherine Annese, a former owner of Annese family nurseries and garden shops and mother of six children, won the Wendy Stawiecki Mother of the Year Award.

Linda Littleton of the Webster Lake Association won the Environmental Award. Florence Kuzdzal won the Community Star recognition for helping save Hubbard Regional Hospital. Joanne Grzembski won the Stasia Czernicki Athletic Award. Oxford selectman Susan Gallant won the Millie Henshall Award.



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Coakley Pitches for AG
By Mary Murray
Metro West Daily News
April 28, 2005

WALTHAM -- Speaking at the monthly Massachusetts Mayors meeting yesterday, Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley spent about 20 minutes outlining what the DA's office can do for local governments.


Inevitably, she was then asked what she would bring to the office of attorney general, a position she has said she intends to run for if current AG Tom Reilly does indeed make a run for governor.


"I don't intend on being the 13th district attorney, I think the attorney general has a different job," Coakley said. "But one of the things I think I bring going to statewide office is my experience on the ground of what works and what doesn't. We will teach, we will train. But it has to work from the ground up...As attorney general the only authority is that which people give you."


Although not official, Coakley's likely run for attorney general could have a chain reaction on local politics. State Rep. Peter Koutoujian, D-Waltham, said that if Coakley seeks higher office he will run for district attorney, leaving his seat in the state Legislature open.



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DA's office helping area educators, officials recognize and respond to threats
By Lynn Worthy
Lowell Sun
April 18, 2005

TYNGSBORO -- The Middlesex District Attorney's office provides teachers and administrators with training and programs to help schools deal with issues of violence, substance abuse, crisis management, and safety.Many local schools now have groups of designated teachers and administrators serve as members of “crisis teams” who lead the necessary efforts in the case of an emergency.

The District Attorney's Office runs several groups geared toward the effort, including Project Alliance, Middlesex Partnership for Youth, and its annual S.E.C.U.R.E. VII (Safe and Effective Community Understanding and Response to Emergencies) conference.

Last Tuesday, at the Boston University Corporate Education Center in Tyngsboro, the office hosted its seventh-annual conference with more than 200 people and representatives from 38 cities and towns.

Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said the conference arose from discussions with officials in Newton seven years ago. The discussions were already under way when the Columbine massacre occurred.

“It was clearly a wake-up call,” Coakley said of Columbine.

Discussions with the task force cover everything from changes in national and state safety regulations to homeland-security protocols.

Coakley said this year's conference was focused on getting schools back to basics, such as assessing safety risks.

Officials from Tewksbury gave a presentation on an exercise they performed this past year at their high school, simulating an armed suspect in the building.

The exercise was done without students in the building and utilized the school's security cameras and the speaker system, as well as the Police Department's command station.

Members of Tewksbury's police and fire departments, as well as officials from the school system talked about the planning, organization, execution, and how they analyzed and made adjustments to their security system after the drill.

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Coakley Mulling for AG's post
By Christopher Marcisz
The Berkshire Eagle
April 6, 2005

NORTH ADAMS -- From the podium at the Sullivan Lounge at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley could turn and look out the window at the blue house on Highland Avenue where she grew up.

She recalled how her father -- who was a partner at the insurance firm now known as Coakley Pierpan Dolan & Collins -- used to complain that Boston politicians only came out every four years when they needed something.

So she said she was visiting her hometown yesterday to listen. "It has to come from the ground up," she said.

Officially, Coakley isn't running for anything just yet, although from the smattering of "Coakley '06" buttons in the audience, she clearly has something more on her mind.

"I'm at the beginning of that process," she carefully replied, when MCLA professor Robert Bence asked about a run in 2006 to replace Attorney General Thomas Reilly if he choose to run for governor.

The road from Highland Avenue took Coakley to Williams College, where she graduated in 1975. She later attended Boston University School of Law. She first joined the Middlesex district attorney's office in 1986, and in 1998 was elected to her first term as district attorney for the 54 cities and towns in her county.

In her talk and question-and-answer session at MCLA, she touched on major themes she said she was interested in exploring, noting that an attorney general needs to zero in on key topics.

Throughout her talk, she frequently noted the need to support prosecutors to protect communities, which must be balanced by the ability to protect civil liberties.

She also commented often on the gaps in the system that processes people from schools and social services up to the criminal justice system.

"We treat kids as on an assembly line," she said.

The questions ranged from her attitude toward prosecuting white-collar crime to the prosecution of environmental violations.

She spoke at length about the role of the media in the justice system. It is a topic she dealt with as a prosecutor in the case against Louise Woodward, the English nanny accused of killing her charge, which drew worldwide attention in 1997.

She noted the role the media plays in keeping public servants honest and beholden to the voters, but lamented the manner that "high-profile" cases can distort the public's perception of real threats.

A few years ago, a handful of abductions of photogenic children by strangers led to Amber alerts and a new array of fears for parents.

"That's the tip of the iceberg as far as our child abuse problems go," she said, adding that trouble with foster care and sexual abuse within families remain much more serious.

Asked by a student about her thoughts on the future of the USA Patriot Act, Coakley explained her ambivalence about it, and said that she thinks the pendulum of urgency surrounding it has shifted since it was passed at the height of concerns about terrorism.

"I think you'll see a more rational debate around it," she predicted.

Asked after the event about her thoughts on the death penalty, she explained that her position was settled by cases like that of Joe Salvati, who spent 32 years in prison for a gangland murder and was freed in 1997 after a long-suppressed police report surfaced.

She said that when mistakes are made, "you can open the cell door, but you can't dig up a grave."

Coakley began the day with a Rotary Club luncheon at the Holiday Inn, followed by the session at MCLA in the afternoon. She was scheduled to appear at a North Adams Democratic City Committee meeting last night.

This morning, she is scheduled to appear on "The Opinion Show" on WNAW, and will speak at Drury High School, where she graduated in 1971.

She will also appear at an event in support of Christopher Speranzo, the Democratic candidate for the upcoming special election for 3rd Berkshire District representative.

Among the rounds she made yesterday, she met with North Adams Mayor John Barrett III, the state's longest-serving mayor, who offered his advice.

"Pay attention to your grass roots, return your phone calls, and send your thank-you notes," she said he told her.

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Coakley courts Berkshires for likely AG bid
By Jennifer L. Smith
North Adams Transcript
April 6, 2005

NORTH ADAMS -- Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley returned to her hometown of North Adams Tuesday as part of a two-day tour through the Berkshires as she begins her bid for state attorney general in 2006.

While Coakley has not formally declared her intention to run for the office, a "change of purpose" form was filed with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance on Feb. 28. The form indicates that she is no longer fund-raising for re-election but for attorney general.

"The only thing preventing me from running is Tom Reilly," she said.

Incumbent Attorney General Tom Reilly is expected to seek the 2006 Democratic nomination for governor. "If Tom is running for governor, I'm running [for attorney general]."

Coakley said she is "geared up" for a campaign and has hired a full-time fund-raiser and rented space for a headquarters.

"This is phase one. I have to say the reaction I'm getting is pretty favorable," she said.

Coakley said that if elected she can provide the "competent direction and fairness" needed to ensure public safety and safeguard civil rights. She also said she is not running for the position because it is a good career move.

"You can't take this kind of position with the idea of climbing up the ladder. It's a position where if you don't do something right, the public knows. You're tested on the quality of your cases," she said. "Things change in your life. You need to focus on what you are going to do next and how you are going to do it," she said.

If Reilly decides not to run for governor, Coakley will run for re-election in the Middlesex District Attorney's race.

Her two-day tour of the area includes stops with Berkshire County Democrats and the Hilltown Democratic Committee; a question-and-answer session with the Political Science Club at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and a visit to teacher Donald Pecor's class at Drury High School. She will also meet with local officials.

"Frankly, I'm here to talk to people. My father always complained the politicians only came out for the Fall Foliage Parade," she said. "I'm here to talk with the mayors and the city councils about the role of the attorney general." Being a native of the area, Coakley feels that she understands the hardships caused by the isolation and tough economy of Berkshire County.

"Other than being away from where people think things happen in the state, the same issues -- education reform, job security, job reentry, consumer complaints and public safety issues -- are being faced in my county," she said.

One area Coakley believes needs improvement throughout the state is public safety. She sees a need to increase prevention and intervention phases across the state.

"The state has been very disjunctive in the areas of public safety and the economy," she said. "We need to look at prevention statewide. We need intervention in our schools and better re-entry into society for our criminals. We also need comprehensive training in DNA testing."

Other areas of need include improving the enforcement around drug trafficking and use in the state.

"We are never going to stop the flow of drugs into Massachusetts. That's a federal issue. We can control the demand," she said.

Coakley believes an increase in early intervention and the utilization of rehabilitation clinics combined with law enforcement can achieve this.

She is also a supporter of safeguarding civil rights within the state. Unlike the current attorney general, Coakley supports the state Supreme Judicial Court's ruling allowing gay marriage.

"I believe the SJC has spoken on this matter. I have friends and relatives that are affected by this ruling. It's a civil rights issue," she said.

Coakley has also gone on record as supporting stem cell research.

A self-described "accidental politician," Coakley began her career as an associate at the law firm of Parker, Coulter, Daley & White in Boston. In 1986 she joined the Middlesex County District Attorney's office as an assistant district attorney in the Lowell District Court office. In 1991 she was appointed chief of the Child Abuse Protection Unit.

During her tenure overseeing the Child Abuse Protection Unit, Coakley prosecuted Louise Woodward, the British nanny convicted of shaking 8-month-old Matthew Eappen to death. In December 1997 Coakley resigned her position to campaign for her current position as district attorney in the 54 cities and towns of Middlesex County.

She was also involved in the state's case against the Reading man who fatally punched another father outside of a children's hockey game.

"One dad in jail, one dead; how stupid," she said. One high-profile case that still bothers her involved a North Adams man who kidnapped his daughters and was located 15 years later in the state of Florida.

The father, who shared joint-custody of the two girls with their mother, disappeared with the girls. He later told them their mother was dead. "We took a lot of heat on this one. He could have been charged with kidnapping, but he ended up with 4-to-5 years' probation," she said. "We looked at the key issues in this case. We knew it was wrong, particularly because he told them their mother was dead, but the girls were brought up well."

Coakley said a major factor was the daughters, who were grown, not wanting to have to testify against their father.

"I would still do everything the same, but I would handle it differently," she said.

Coakley received her bachelor's degree from Williams College and a law degree from Boston University School of Law. She attended schools in North Adams and graduated from Drury High School in 1971.

She resides in Medford with her husband, Thomas F. O'Conner Jr.

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The Glass Ceiling in Massachusetts Politics
By Joan Vennochi
The Boston Globe
March 29, 2005

SURE, THE Massachusetts political world is tough on women. And some women make it even tougher.

Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey recently commented that many senior citizens who are living in suburban houses that are too large and expensive or, as she put it, seniors who are "overhoused and isolated in the suburbs" should consider moving into city and town centers. Language like that is fine for a housing policy forum at Harvard. Elsewhere, it's a quick way for a politician to sound inhumane and out of touch with the real world.

As for Maura Hennigan, she is off to a rocky start in her quest to run a respectable challenge to Mayor Thomas M. Menino thanks to remarks made by Mitch Kates, the man she hired to run her campaign.

A professional wrestler turned political operative, Kates recently compared Menino to "a big teddy bear with drool coming from his mouth" and called Council President Michael Flaherty a "punk bastard."

To her credit, Hennigan quickly ordered Kates to hand-deliver written apologies to both, but there is no way to erase the damage inflicted by those words.

Political transgressions like this would hurt a male candidate, too. They are magnified when committed by women. When a man messes up, every male candidate does not pay the price; unfortunately, a woman's mistakes are passed on to her sisters. That's reality. Complaining about the double standard doesn't change it.

Except for the job of motherhood, women have to prove they are better than a male candidate from the start. For women in the workplace, there is smaller margin for error. Credibility is harder to come by. Physical characteristics are more harshly judged, by men and women. But by now, if a woman contemplating higher political office doesn't understand this, she should not be in politics.

Women who do win understand this political reality. Linda Dorcena Forry won the seat held by former House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, showing the gender-neutral power of a well-run campaign. The state's next attorney general could be Middlesex Country district attorney Martha Coakley, another politician who knows how to run for office, and, when elected, do her job.

Obviously, Massachusetts women have a difficult time when it comes to winning top political spots. The reports and numbers don't lie. Healey is currently the only female holding statewide office, and that happened via the Romney ticket. The Massachusetts congressional delegation is all male.

Evelyn Murphy, the first woman elected lieutenant governor, failed in an attempt to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Shannon O'Brien, the first woman to win statewide office in her own right when she became state treasurer, won a Democratic gubernatorial primary but lost to Mitt Romney in the general election. Republican Jane Swift went from lieutenant governor to acting governor before bowing out in the face of a challenge from Romney. Peggy Davis Mullen, the Boston City councilor who last challenged the incumbent, lost to Menino in a landslide.

In different calibrations, these women had trouble convincing voters they were likeable and strong enough to do the job they sought but, remember, so did John Kerry.

A successful candidate, male or female, has to find a way to connect and be judged competent.

Murphy' s political persona was similar to that of Michael Dukakis. She couldn't get past the lieutenant governor's office. He served three terms as governor and won the Democratic presidential nomination before his inability to connect eventually undermined his quest for higher office.

Romney does not look or sound like a man of the people any more than Healey. Voters were willing to overlook that when Romney ran for governor, giving him more points for likeability and competence. On the national playing field, Romney's privileged persona may ultimately derail his ambition, but in Massachusetts, he got a chance Healey will never get. With or without his resume, she cannot afford to talk about "overhoused" senior citizens, even if she is advancing the Romney administration's agenda.

Menino knows how to play street politics. But his game does not include public statements like those Kates made, personally attacking an opponent.

Women may have a tougher case to make, but they have to figure out a way to make it.

Their political slogan should not be, "I'm sorry."

How about "no excuses"?





Middlesex District Attorney, City Native to Visit Hometown April 5-6
North Adams Transcript
March 26, 2005

NORTH ADAMS -- Martha Coakley, district attorney of the largest court district in Massachusetts since 1999, will visit her hometown on April 5 and 6 as the guest of the North Adams Democratic City Committee. While in the city, she will make several appearances, at least two of which are open to the public.

Coakley, a native of North Adams, will be the lunchtime speaker at a joint meeting of the North Adams and Williamstown Rotary clubs on Tuesday, April 5. The meeting, which is open to the public, begins at 12:15 p.m. at the Holiday Inn Berkshire. Reservations for the luncheon are required and must be made by April 1 by calling 664-4650. The cost of lunch is $8 per person, which will be collected at the door.

Coakley will be the guest of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Political Science Club and the Wellstone Civic Dialogue group at a town hall meeting to be held at 3 p.m. in Sullivan Lounge, Amsler Campus Center, on the college campus. After a brief speech by Coakley, participants will be encouraged to raise issues and to ask questions. This session will be moderated by Political Science Professor Robert Bence and is open to the public.

She will be the guest at a gathering of Berkshire County Democrats from 6-9 p.m. in the Berkshire Room of the Holiday Inn. This session is hosted by the North Adams Democratic City Committee and will include an Italian buffet dinner. After dinner and Coakley's address, participants will be invited to ask questions and discuss issues.

A graduate of Drury High School, Coakley will return to her alma mater on Wednesday, April 6, 10 a.m., to speak to an assembly of interested juniors and seniors. This session will be coordinated by Donald Pecor, chairman of social studies and director of curriculum and instruction at Drury High School.

Coakley will be a guest on the WNAW "Opinion Show" On Wednesday, April 6, at 8:30 a.m.

Coakley is a seasoned prosecutor who has devoted much of her legal career to public safety. She has been recognized for her advocacy of victims and children, having served for a number of years as chief of the Child Abuse Protection Unit in the Middlesex District Attorney's office prior to her election to the office of district attorney. She serves as chairwoman of the board of directors of Middlesex Partnerships for Youth Inc. Coakley received her bachelor's degree from Williams College and her law degree from Boston University.

Early in March, Coakley signaled her intention to run for the office of state attorney general in 2006 if current Attorney General Tom Reilly does not run for re-election.


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Coakley outlining campaign for A-G
By Jennifer Fenn
Sentinel and Enterprise
March 3, 2005

BOSTON -- Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley is laying the groundwork to run for attorney general next year, saying she will seek the office if incumbent Thomas Reilly does not run for re-election.

Reilly is a likely candidate for governor in 2006.

Signaling her intention to run for higher office, Coakley filed a "change of purpose" form with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance Monday, stating that she is no longer fund-raising for re-election, but for attorney general.

Candidates must disclose what office they are seeking.

Previously, Coakley has listed district attorney. As of Monday, it was changed to attorney general.

"We're pretty certain we're going to go forward with this and we're doing everything we can to make it clear," Coakley said Wednesday. "Since I have been indicating to people my interest and have sent out some correspondence, we thought it was the fairest thing to do. We're still in the process of getting organized but it's my intention to run for attorney general."

Coakley will only run if Reilly does not seek re-election. Though Reilly has not said he is officially in the race, Coakley said it appears clear that he wants to run. She said he knows she's interested in his job.

"He has certainly indicated that it's a strong intention on his part," she said. "We know nothing is cast in stone here, but he knows of my plans and he has not tried to dissuade me."

Coakley was first elected district attorney in 1998, having previously worked as a prosecutor. She joined the office in 1986 as an assistant district attorney in the Lowell District Court office.

In 1987, Coakley went to the U.S. Justice Department to join its Boston Organized Crime Strike Force as a special attorney, returning to the DA's office in 1989. She was appointed the chief of the Child Abuse Protection Unit in 1991.

In December 1997, Coakley resigned her position to campaign for District Attorney in the 54 cities and towns of Middlesex County.

Coakley lives in Medford, but is originally from North Adams. Other Democrats possibly interested in Reilly's seat include Sen. Jarrett Barrios of Cambridge.

Coakley said her first order of business is fund-raising. She said she's putting together a finance committee and has two "big" events in the works, one for March and another in May.

"That's clearly one of my first priorities to make it clear I'm serious about this," Coakley said.

Coakley has a balance of just over $100,000, but raised about $10,000 in January according to receipts filed Wednesday. Any money Coakley raised as a district attorney candidate can be used for a campaign for attorney general.

Money Coakley raises as a candidate for attorney general could be used for district attorney if she decides to seek re-election.

If Coakley does run for attorney general, a large field of candidates is expected to run for district attorney. Several state lawmakers have indicated interest, including Rep. Charlie Murphy, D-Burlington.



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Coakley Releases Brochures in Spanish
Cambridge Chronicle
February 10, 2005

CAMBRIDGE -- Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley recently released Spanish language versions of two brochures available through the Middlesex District Attorney’s office. Each brochure contains information on their respective programs related to restraining orders and child abuse, as well as contact information for those who seek additional help.

“There are a number of valuable resources available through our office to the people of Middlesex, and for these resources to be effective and to be utilized, we must make them available and clear to understand for everyone, including those who primarily speak another language,” said Coakley. “We hope to continue to educate the people of Middlesex in different ways maximizing our outreach and encouraging everyone to utilize our programs and services.”

“El Metodo SAIN Para la Investigacion del Abuso Sexual De Menores” (“The SAIN Approach to Child Sexual Abuse Investigations”) was produced to educate parents on the Sexual Abuse Investigation Network. SAIN is the joint effort between the Middlesex District Attorney’s office and the Department of Social Services to coordinate services for families while a child’s abuse allegations are under investigation.

Guia de Ordenes de Restricion” (“Understanding Restraining Orders”) was produced by the Middlesex District Attorney’s office to address questions or concerns about Abuse Prevention Orders. This brochure serves as a guide to the 290A Abuse Prevention Law, answering specific questions about the application process, what it means to file an Abuse Prevention Order, and how to address violations of the order.

The English versions of each brochure produced are available on the Middlesex District Attorney’s Web site at www.middlesexda.com. The Spanish versions will be available shortly. For a hard copy of the brochures, call Patricia Kelley at 617-679-6640.

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Who's Hot... Martha Coakley
Boston Herald
January 9, 2005

The Middlesex District Attorney might be the only wannabe from the never-to-be race to replace Sen. John Kerry to land on her feet -- the early favorite to replace Tom Reilly as attorney general. Only downside is, a win there would ink her reputation as succeeding only when Reilly gets out of the way.

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