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Scott Speaks to Fatherhood Coalition About Testimony

By Hope E. Tremblay, Staff Writer, Holyoke Sun, May 1-7

Holyoke Police Chief Anthony R. Scott delivered discouraging news to a group of 40 people at the Fatherhood Coalition meeting on April 28.

Scott, who testified before the House/Senate Committee on the Judiciary earlier that day, said a plea to legislators to pass a bill making judges in Massachusetts accountable was misunderstood by many.

The bill, sponsored by State Sen. Michael R. Knapik, State Sen. Brian P. Lees and State representatives Michael F. Kane, Richard R. Tisei and Donald F. Humason, Jr. calls for an amendment of the Constitution.

Bill Number 1065 states that judges would be certified by voters every six years after their initial nomination by the governor and confirmation by the Governor's Council.

Some people were confused by Scott's certification proposal, he said, and thought he wanted voters to elect judges. "I am not proposing to elect judges," Scott said. "That's what they kept talking about today. I have never said that we should elect them."

Instead, Scott wants judges to come up for certification automatically every six years. He's proposed that their records be publicly posted in courts, newspapers and on public access television three weeks before the vote.

"The only thing he is running against is himself. Nobody can run against him because it is not an election," said Scott. The bill also states that if a judge is not certified, then he can never be reinstated.

Scott said that he was told that people would not be informed enough to vote on judges.

"I said that we are smart enough to elect the President of the United States -- the most powerful man in the world. We are smart enough to elect our governor, senators, representatives, and mayors... but we're not smart enough to certify a judge? That's an insult," said Scott.

When some audience members said they've filed complaints about judges and written letters to their legislators and nothing has been done, Scott said people need to make phone calls.

"You have to contact your counterparts across the state and tell them to pick up the phone too!", said Scott.

While members of the Fatherhood Coalition expressed their staunch support of Scott's initiative, not everyone has vocally supported him. Scott said he wrote a letter asking area police chiefs to show their support by attending the testimony, but no one showed.

"I felt like I was at Little Big Horn. There were a lot of Indians, but only on chief," he said.

However, Scott said that much credit goes to Mayor Michael J. Sullivan for his support. "I have a great man who appointed me," Scott said.

According to Mike Franco, State Co-Chair for the Fatherhood Coalition, Scott and many fathers share their common desire for judicial reform.

"We want the same thing," Franco said. "Our mission and goals run parallel."

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