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September 30, 2005

The Zell Miller of Charlestown?

Fascinating column by Brian McGrory today about Charlestown State Rep Eugene O'Flaherty. It's mostly about O'Flaherty's opposition to Melanie's Bill, which would increase penalties for DWI repeat-offenders, along with a good deal of general mockery. (I don't know the details of the bill, but I'll say that I have as little sympathy for DWI repeat-offenders as possible.)

Going over their history, McGrory quotes an email he received from O'Flaherty after Finneran's indictment:

''I rarely write responses to low-level journalists but you really tick me off to the point where I wish I had been in high school with you so we could have playfully wrestled after school and you could have gone home to Mommy with tears in your eyes along with a black eye and a sore arse like I'm sure you did on more than one occasion."

How statesmanlike. To my knowledge, O'Flaherty has not walked the streets of Charlestown with his pants around his ankles, but this is pretty close.

Extra-juicy rumors (scroll to end) have been floated on this site about the possible candidacy of gay ex-priest Christopher Schiavone to challenge O'Flaherty -- "a vehement opponent of gay marriage", says McGrory -- for his seat. If that happens, grab the popcorn -- it'll be one for the ages.

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Comments

Drat! Scooped by my co-blogger! Yes, this was quite a blogworthy column.

Posted by: David | Sep 30, 2005 3:14:30 PM

Gene-O thinks he's the next Speakah himself. Just waiting for Sal to show a weakness. So NATURALLY, he's touchy about the perogatives of the office.

Posted by: Peter Porcupine | Sep 30, 2005 6:09:09 PM

Very interesting McGrory article; don't know if it's damaging enough to lose an election. Gene-O seems popular in his district with the townies, yuppies & latinos. He's got an interesting background and should have never won his first election in 1996, everyone worked against him in the political establishment and he was outspent. Finneran made him Chairman but interestingly enough he survived the Speaker's fight and DiMasi appointed him Chairman again. So why did McGrory make it sound like he's a Chairman now because of Finneran. I don't know if I'm a fan of Gene-O's but McGrory seemed like a child in his column and there's got to be more to it than this between them 2.

Posted by: John Galway | Sep 30, 2005 8:27:50 PM

The Patriot-Ledger had a story about about Rep. Hynes of Marshfield saying to Rep. O'Flaherty during the debate on Melanie's law that "blood" would be on his hands if he didn't support all of the amendments.

I wonder if O'Flaherty's name was "Dershowitz" or "Silvergate" if his objections to due process & constitutional issues in Melanie's Bill would have the media refer to him as a constitutional scholar as opposed to focusing on an internal House matter between Reps during a heated debate?

Posted by: John Galway | Oct 2, 2005 10:33:45 AM

I hear that Christopher Schiavone is definitly running against O'Flaherty. I think he would be a great representative. With all his history and personal problems, I think he could empathise with the voters much more then O'Flaherty. I hope he can stay focused and keep hitting on the fact that O'Flaherty is against gay mariage. Once the people learn what an anti-gay biggot O'Flaherty is I am sure they will vote for Christopher. I bet Christopher will beat O'Flaherty handidly. Let's go guys.

Posted by: Charlestowngayguy | Oct 2, 2005 7:19:07 PM

I agree charlestowngayguy; Schiavone will resonate well in Chelsea & Charlestown. Both areas have changed and O'Flaherty is very old-school for a young guy.

Posted by: John Galway | Oct 2, 2005 8:07:25 PM

The real story here with regard to O'Flaherty, and Reps Costello and Fagan who also fought like pit bulls to gut the drink driving legislation, is that they are all defense attorneys who do OUI work. That isn't a coincidence. A generous observer would allow for the possibility that they fought last week for drunk drivers out of instinct, and not with an eye to their own financial interests. A cynic might see baser motives. Either way, those three guys adopted their courtroom arguments and took them to the floor - they weren't representing their constituents. They were representing drunk drivers. Ethics rules wouldn't allow a rep who also happens to be VP of a major bank to control the gutting of a financial regulations bill. I don't understand why so few people have pointed out the inherent conflict of interest that these three guys have. I have nothing against lawyers, or even OUI lawyers. But let's call it like it is. As to John Galway's comment about supposed "constitutional" concerns, he's falling for O'Flaherty's trick. They are lawyers, so they throw out the word "constitution" like it's some kind of magic spell. There's nothing in the original legislation that is not already law in plenty of other places - the so-called "constitutional concerns" are a smokescreen and an excuse for inaction.

Posted by: Frank Millicent | Oct 3, 2005 8:04:19 AM

Regardless of what the law is, a person arrested for DWI will still hire a lawyer. So O'Flaherty and Fagan aren't going to lose any money. However, if you look at the details of Melanie's law it is very scary.
For instance, if you are pulled over and a police officer gives you a field sobriety tests, as many as he likes, and if the police officer decides you failed one of the tests your license will be revoked for one year. Even if you blow a 0.0 on the breathalyzer. That gives to much discretionary power to police officers. Imagine standing out on the Mass Pike with traffic wizzing by. Ever feel the breeze from an 18 wheeler going by at 60 m.p.h.? You pass 3 tests, then you stand on one leg for 18 seconds, and not 20. You go to the station, blow a 0.0. You have a blood test showing no alcohol in your system. Guess what, because the cop was an asshole (and there are many) under Melanie's law you just lost your license for a year.
O'Flaherty and Fagan and others are showing the balls unlike their fellow legislatures.
Besides, if Melanies law was enacted a long time ago, it would not have prevented her death. Let's get real.

Posted by: Defense Lawyer | Oct 3, 2005 8:35:45 AM

Thank you, Counsellor. That's all great, except that the field sobriety test refusal provision you've described at great length has been dropped from both the House and the Senate versions of the bill. So it's a dead letter and we can move on. The FST refusal provisions are pretty much the only part of the original bill that opponents deigned to allow to come to the floor for debate. What about the other thirteen provisions that were unceremoniously hacked out? Look, there are obviously good-faith arguments to be made, whatever one's profession or personal interest. What is galling, and what is actually "scary" here, is the lengths to which Rep. O'Flaherty and his hack cronies went to prevent the original bill from even coming to the floor for good-faith debate and a vote.

Posted by: Frank Millicent | Oct 3, 2005 10:00:50 AM

Frank, that is not scary to me. The process has many steps. Relax dude. Obviously the votes were there, otherwise it would not have happened. So a majority of the House agreed with O'Flaherty. Because one thing has always been true in every legislative body - If you have the votes you can do what you want.-
Frank - tell me about the other 13 provisions and how they will stop repeat offneders. And after this bill passes what will MADD want in the next bill. Because in a few years there will be another Melanie's bill. There always is. When does it end?
The problem is not first time offenders. The problem is repeat offenders.
The tougher the law the more people are willing to pay attorneys, like O'Flaherty, to help them. I know this first hand. I will now charge twice as much to represent drunk drivers if this bill passes. More work for the lawyers and more stress and worry for the client means more money for tha lawyer.
So O'Flaherty is costing himself money by not supporting the bill.

Posted by: Defense Lawyer | Oct 3, 2005 11:10:59 AM

DL, go back and read the column that started this string, and then read the additional weekend coverage in the Globe and the Herald. Your utopian conception of the legislative process in MA bears no resemblance to the reality of the situation, either in this case or more broadly. There was massive bipartisan support for this bill. Then Eugene O'Flaherty gutted it in "his" committee and sent the skeleton to the floor. THEN he threatened, brow-beat and verbally abused legislators to line them up behind preventing up-or-down votes on any of the original bill's provisions. This is not subjective opinion - this is what happened. If that isn't scary to you - or at least disturbing - then I'd suggest you might have questionable motives. I understand that you think this will up your billables. Maybe so - but it will also hit your acquittal rate, which long-term I imagine is of more value to you. And someone like O'Flaherty would presumably have to explain to his clients why he voted for tougher drunk driving laws...

Melanie's Bill was (and is, having been passed unanimously by the Senate) geared both towards upping penalties AND closing the loopholes through which you and your colleagues have gotten so adept at steering your clients. The latter portion is what was stripped from the House bill.

Posted by: Frank Millicent | Oct 3, 2005 12:43:10 PM

Was O'Flaherty threatening to sodomize McGrory?

Posted by: Bob Neer | Oct 3, 2005 12:45:07 PM

Frank, I see. O'Flaherty was mean to other reps. Wow. And they folded. Wow. You should have problem with the mild meek reps that are afraid of O'Flaherty. My God. If the votes were there the provisions would have been purt back in. But your argument is this:
even though this bill would save many many lives it was appropriate for reps to not support it and override what happened in the committee because O'Flaherty would yell at them. WOW, those are good legislators. And O'Flahertyy is not.
Who would you rather represent your interests on Beacon Hill? A strong minded O'Flaherty or weak lemmings that are afraid to get yelled at.
Your anger should be vented at those weaklings. They are the people that have no balls, regardless of the issue. It is not reps like O'Flaherty that give the legislature a bad name, rather it is the gutless wonders up there who are afraid of their own shadow. Like the ones you described.
GO O'Flaherty

By the way, I have never been asked by a client for my success rate. And to think that O'Flaherty would lose business because he voted against the bill is very very naive.
Finally, please tell me what legal loopholes you are talking about. You sound educated on this issue. Please tell me the legal loopholes, because I have missed them in my 20 years of defending drunk drivers.
You must be speaking of that awful loophole called not guilty. Believe it or not, some people are innocent. It does happen. Just ask all those poor souls released from life sentences because of DNA.
No DNA in OUI cases.

Posted by: DefenseLawyer | Oct 3, 2005 1:07:49 PM

Wow Frank needs a chill pill.
Like I said before: If O'Flaherty was Dershowitz or Silvergate, he'd be a constitutional scholar, defending against governmental intrusiveness but he's a lawyer/legislator and his "hack" cronies are as well so they, according to Frank the know-it-all, lack credibility.

And Bob Neer, if that's a serious inquiry I apologize but if it's not, then you are a moron & probably fat & stupid as well.

Posted by: John Galway | Oct 3, 2005 7:37:40 PM

John, did you notice that Frank has no repsonse as far legal loopholes are concerned. Because Frank sounds like he knows a lot about the bill, but can't respond to particulars, I would bet he is a rep. One of the weak guys that is afraid of his own shadow, cowtows to the press and has nothing to show in his legislative career other then getting elected. And of course afraid of being yelled at by O'Flaherty. I hope he is n ot my rep.

Posted by: DefenseLawyer | Oct 4, 2005 9:12:28 AM

My my my. Such vitriol and so much to respond to. Sorry fellas, I'm not chained to the computer waiting for your posts.
DL, I appreciate that your screen tag puts your profession - and your bias - on your sleeve. But if you're going to simultaneously tell me that you're a defense attorney in MA AND you have no notion of what I'm talking about when I reference loopholes in the state's OUI laws, well, you're either full of it or you're a very bad attorney. I'm sure you don't call them "loopholes," and of course that's a political buzz term. But it's appropriate. I'm an attorney (not a rep) and I've prosecuted these cases, and in my courthouse the defense attorneys were very open about the degree to which the OUI statute is set up to tilt the scales to the defendants. Gleeful, really. But that was a very collegial place.

Anyhow, I digress. The primary loopholes (or benefits to offenders, if you prefer) are these: current law has no real penalty for refusing to cooperate with the police; and current law makes "proving priors" ridiculously difficult. These loopholes result in the following: As to refusal, repeat offenders who know how these things play out on court know that when they are pulled over it is immensely to their benefit to be polite but sit still and refuse to either take a breathalyzer or perform field sobriety tests. This is to their benefit because in MA (unlike in virtually any other state) the DA is prohibited from telling the Court or the jury that the defendant refused to cooperate. The jury is therefore left with the officer's subjective impressions, and the defense attorney is free to make all the standard arguments (could there have been a bee in the car? Could one beer result in a smell of alcohol?) that lead inevitably (and correctly) to reasonable doubt and an acquittal. Although a refusing driver's license is seized and suspended for refusal, a quick acquittal results in immediate reinstatement. The current law, then, allows a repeat offender to calculate that he's much better off refusing and taking a relatively short suspension.
As to proving priors, the courts here have interpreted current statute to require the commonwealth to bring in live testimony to prove that the defendant has been convicted previously. Because in many cases this is literally impossible, and because the Court cannot currently rely on records of prior convictions, repeat offenders frequently get first offender dispositions over and over again. that is the answer to the question, "why are there so many drivers with multiple convictions who still have a license?" It's because they never get multiple offender dispositions with loss of license or jail time.

As for Rep. O'Flaherty, he's a hack. Anyone who has met him can tell you that as objective truth. I have no problem with hard-nosed legislating. But telling colleagues that he's going to "f*ck" them, on the floor of the House, is an unforgiveable loss of control. As, by the way, is sending a major political columnist for the largest paper in the region an infantile, threatening note. I mean, come on. Anyone in politics who can't see the folly in that is well deserving of the label: "Idiot."

Posted by: Frank Millicent | Oct 4, 2005 2:02:12 PM

Frank, you're full of shit. And I know you are not a prosecutor, I was at one time, when the laws were much easier, and I tried over 100 of them to guilties. And at no time did I ever hear a defense attorney tell me about the loopholes. If you are a prosecutor you must just be a very bad trial attorney and want to have a layup every time.
Have you met IO'Flaherty. You must of, because you were cowering from him on the house floor.
And if you are a prosecutor, what are you doing wasting your time and taxpayers money when you should be out prosecutinfg drunk drivers. Oh I know, you are one of those prosecutors who doesn't know how to work, just want easy convictions. "if he was arrersted he must be guilty"
If you are an attortney you are a disgrace.

Posted by: DefenseLawyer | Oct 4, 2005 2:22:26 PM

Frank Frank Frank
Repeat offenders are very very very rarely given first offense dispositions. Again further evidence that you are full of shit. You are repeating mistruths perpetuated by MADD and others trying to justify their existence. The more you talk the more you show how much you do not know.
You still haven't given any loopholes. But then it is tough when you don't know what you are talking about, too stupid to even pretnd to be a lawyer. Dumb, Dumb, Dumb, and stupid.
Thanks Frank.
P.S. couldn't find your name in Lawyer's Diary

Oh, if "everyone" thinks he is a hack and that is "objectionable truth"?
He's doin a lot better then you are my dumb witted brother

Posted by: DefenseLawyer | Oct 4, 2005 2:32:08 PM

Rep. O'Flaherty? Is that you?

Now I see why you're so enamored of the good Representative, DL. You have a very similar disposition. I guess I'd better count myself lucky that you didn't threaten to beat me up after school.

I'm done with you, clown. Life's too short.

Posted by: Frank Millicent | Oct 4, 2005 2:54:25 PM

That's right Frank, run away when you can't defend your position and cry "bully". That works for you.

Posted by: Defense Lawyer | Oct 4, 2005 3:06:41 PM

"Dumb dumb dumb dumbitty dumb."

"Dumb dumb stupid full of shit."

"Shit shit dumb dumb."

"That's right, run from my intellect, Frank."

I mean, DL, seriously? I can't decide if you're a fifth grader pretending to be a lawyer, or vice-versa. You expect me to waste my time arguing with you when inside of 10 posts you're already resorting to strings of ad hominems? I meant it - life's too short (and the world is too populated with meatheads like you and Rep. O'Flaherty). Maybe you'd better cool down and devote some time to learning persuasive advocacy. Read How to Make Friends and Influence People, maybe. In a few months you might well need to actually make a case for your clients.

Love,

Frank

Posted by: Frank Millicent | Oct 4, 2005 4:01:51 PM

Still avoiding the argument Frank. Give me those lopholes. You know a judge can sentence a person to must stiffer penalties then mandatory first offense penalties. So give me these "lopholes" or do you jst want to attack.
I don't want to make you my friend or influence you, so that bok is not nedded here. I just want you to back up what you say. Show me these loopholes,
Or are you full of shit?
Call MADD and get some talking points.
So when yopu attack with words like hack and meathead that is fine. Double standard.

Posted by: Defense Lawyer | Oct 4, 2005 4:25:21 PM

Whoa! Frankie "know-it-all-prosecutor" Millicent, you are getting personal with DL and really personal on O'Flaherty. Are you sure O'Flaherty didn't pound your face in, or one of your friends, when you were younger? I wonder if the you really ever did meet him like DL asks. I haven't met him but his picture on the State House website has him looking 14 years of age, doesn't look aggressive to me. You sound like McGrory, a little overboard in your criticism, leading me to fairly insinuate it's something personal. Hmmm. Just a thought. On the substance, DL stuffs you and you don't respond to his loophole argument.
It's a question of fairness- some believe (the Senate) that a 1st offender should lose their their license for a year for not taking the breathalyzer. The House believes the 180 day current penalty is suffice. Why should their be an increase? It seems we like to penalize the right of citizens to not cooperate with the government? Isn't there a right against self incrimination?

Posted by: John Galway | Oct 4, 2005 8:11:19 PM

Hey DL, Frankie "know-it-all-prosecutor" Millicent says O'F said "f&ck em" on the House floor.Sounds like inside info to me because the Globe reported such hearsay but the alleged witnesses never identified themselves in any story. I wonder if that's because his last name is O'F and not Dershowitz or Silvergate. DL, Frankie "KIAP" Millicent sounds like he may be a Rep or a staffer (water boy) at the state house.
Also, DL, you know he's been getting his ass kicked by DL's in court so he's just infuriated at his ineptitude and probably loves to hear himself speak all for $30k a year.

Posted by: John Galway | Oct 4, 2005 8:22:48 PM

You gonna take that Frankie Wanks?

Posted by: Defense Lawyer | Oct 4, 2005 8:34:35 PM

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