Jean Trounstein, an advocate for prison reform, says about the nomination of Joshua Wall to go from head of the Board of Parole to superior court judge, “With this much controversy from the public over a nominee for superior court judge, how can the council possibly vote him a judgeship? This is not a contest, i.e. who can scream the loudest for or against, this is about allowing or not allowing someone to have enormous power over the lives of thousands of people.”
Judgeship are a powerful way to influence our criminal justice system. Neutrality is obviously essential. There is still time to contact your governor’s councilor, the advisory board to Gov. Patrick, which approves his nominations.
From Jean Trounstein, who sat through much of the hearings on Wall’s nomination: These are some of the comments that were made during the testimony about his temperament:
“I thought he was supposed to be neutral.” The Woodmans, whose son was killed when Josh Wall was an Assistant District Attorney for Suffolk County
“We were treated with disregard.” The Woodmans
“He is not fundamentally fair….He has a win at all cost attitude.” Willy Davis, attorney
“He has little compassion for people who are mentally ill.” Leslie Walker,PLS
“He is somebody who loses focus and wants to do anything he can do to achieve his objectives.” Dave Nathanson, attorney
“There is a pattern of punitiveness towards parolees.” Donald Perry, parolee
“’What a proud day for the family. Very fine people,’ Josh Wall said [at a parole hearing to a student attorney] about a man who had murdered someone.” Joel Thompson, attorney
“I have never opposed a judgeship in thirty years…” Patty Garin, attorney
TELL YOUR COUNCILOR THAT, BASED ON HIS PAST CONDUCT, JOSH WALL WILL NOT BE A FAIR JUDGE:
– A constant theme of the complaints about this Parole Board is that Wall does not show respect to prisoners or their families during parole hearings. He often behaves unnecessarily arrogant, confrontational, condescending, dismissive, and insulting towards prisoners and their families. He often is disrespectful to the law students and attorneys who represent the prisoners at parole hearings.
– Under Chairman Wall, there has been a significant increase in the number of prisoners who “waive” their parole hearings, i.e. decline the opportunity to appear before the Board. This is largely because many prisoners have decided not to attend a hearing when there is little prospect of being granted parole and a high likelihood that they or their loved ones will be treated with disrespect.
– Evidence of Wall’s disrespect for prisoners and their families is also shown in his failure to issue timely decisions. Under the Wall Board, lifers and their families have waited an average of 9 months for the Board to issue a decision in their cases. Prior Parole Boards issued their lifer decisions within 60 days.
These are not characteristics the public wishes to see in a judge who must act with impartiality, patience and professionalism. Josh Wall should not be rewarded for his poor conduct as the Chairman of the Parole Board.
As a judge, Wall would have even more power and more opportunity to disrespect the attorneys or defendants who come before him. Furthermore, he would be charged with ruling on motions that could limit defendants’ ability to present a defense and his conduct in the courtroom could negatively impact how juries view defendants during trial. Most concerning, he would be pronouncing sentences for criminal defendants – the very people for whom he has already shown no respect as the Parole Board Chair.
YOUR EFFORTS COULD REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
5. Eileen R. Duff – District 5
6. Terrence W. Kennedy – District 6
7. Jennie L. Caissie – District 7
8. Michael J. Albano – District 8