If you must pick a fight, as Kerry Healey seems so inclined, then lawyers wouldn't be my first choice. Powerful, organized, articulate, and aggressive, they present quite a challenge. Two ads that Healey has put out so far have infuriated prosecutors, defense attorneys, and litigators.
One ad takes aim at Patrick's defense of Carl Ray Songer, an escaped convict who murdered a state trooper on a Florida highway in 1973. As a lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 1985, Patrick argued successfully that Songer was not able to present evidence of his character and education in court, and Songer's death sentence was reduced to life in prison. Yes, cop killers are the worst kind of scum. That is what makes this country so great though. People as horrific as Carl Ray Songer have a right, under our constitution, to a fair and transparent judicial system. Carl Ray had rights and Deval Patrick had a job to defend those rights.
The other ad spotlights Patrick's efforts, as a lawyer in private practice, to support the parole petition of Benjamin LaGuer, who was convicted in 1984 of binding his 59-year-old neighbor with a telephone cord and raping her. The crime was despicable and inexcusable, but to criticize Patrick again misses the point. Even unpopular clients have a right to counsel. If this weren't the case then simply being poor and accused of a crime would mean jail time.
The reaction from across the state has been one of condemnation for Healey and brotherhood for Patrick. "Lawyers say that Healey's targeting of their profession has become the main topic of conversation in wood-paneled offices and district court lobbies from Pittsfield to Provincetown. ``There are a lot of angry lawyers out there," said David L. Yas , editor and publisher of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.(boston globe)
While the Boston Bar Association and the Massachusetts Bar Association haven't officially endorsed Patrick, both of these powerful organizations felt they couldn't let Healey's attack ads go unanswered. "We are taking Healey's comments as a direct insult against our profession", said the vice-president of the Massachusetts Association of Court Appointed Lawyers.(boston globe)
The truth is the recent ads have are indicative of the way Healey has been running her campaign thus far. The fact that she would even question Patrick, a former civil rights attorney and product of Chicago's gritty south side, on crime, is outrageous. It is also further proof that she has no record to run on. Besides highlighting her differences in income taxes and immigration, Healey's campaign has been largely negative. She doesn't boats of any significant accomplishments because she has none. She doesn't lay out a plan for the future of Massachusetts because she doesn't have one. Her strategy consists of bringing Patrick down in order to build herself up. A 5<sup>th</sup> grader could have conducted that campaign strategy.
Right now Healey is trailing Patrick by double digits. If she wants to narrow this gap by November 7<sup>th</sup> then she needs to start running on substantive issues. Sensationalistic ads have worked in the past, yet when you are trying to portray a former civil rights attorney from the projects as soft on crime,you are fighting a loosing battle.