Massachusetts judges have deliberative privilege
BOSTON, Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that judges in the state have "deliberative privilege," meaning they do not have to disclose what they were thinking when they made their rulings. Justice Robert Cordy wrote the opinion, concluding that "although holding judges accountable for acts of bias in contravention of the Code of Judicial Conduct is essential, it must be accomplished without violating the protection afforded the deliberative processes of judges fundamental to ensuring that they may act without fear or favor in exercising their constitutional responsibility to be both impartial and independent...In so concluding, we formally recognize a judicial deliberative privilege that guards against intrusions into such processes."
The court was responding to the case of Boston Municipal Court Judge Raymond G. Dougan, whose rulings led Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley to file a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission on Judicial Conduct, alleging Dougan violated ethical guidelines when dealing with his cases. The commission subpoenaed Dougan’s notes and other materials he used when making his decisions. The high court's ruling puts an end to attempts to gain access to Dougan's notes.
|This article was written by Kelly O'Keefe, the Director of Development for the Lucy Burns Institute. She can be reached at Kelly.O'Keefe@lucyburns.org.|