A McCarthy Era Witch Hunt On Display At The Governor’s Council Over Joseph Berman Judicial Appointment

by Rich Vetstein on November 25, 2013 · 1 comment

in Massachusetts Real Estate Law

Joseph-S.-Berman-198x300Governor’s Council Crucifying Berman Over His Affiliation With Jewish Social Justice Organization

I rarely get involved in politics or judicial nominations, but recents events surrounding the judicial nomination process at the Governor’s Council of well-respected Boston attorney Joseph Berman has led me to take action.

As you may have read recently in the Globe and Herald, Mr. Berman’s Superior Court nomination is being held up by a group of councilors who have objected to his affiliation with the Anti-Defamation League, a storied Jewish social justice organization formed in the aftermath of the Holocaust. The councilors have severely criticized Mr. Berman for the ADL’s prior (and now reversed) stance on the Armenian genocide.

As Mr. Berman repeatedly explained at his hearing, he was a vocal critic of the ADL’s prior policy, advocated for its change, and considered resigning over the issue. I also believe the events in Armenia were genocide and that the ADL did a lot of damage over its policy. Led by Mr. Berman, the New England Chapter of the ADL, however, ultimately reversed its position.

Mind you, this is the same Governor’s Council with a member who voted no on the appointment of Barbara Lenk to the SJC because she’s openly gay.

As Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly has editorialized, the councilors have reached a new low, taking the position that membership in a social justice organization holding a controversial political stance disqualifies an otherwise qualified candidate from judgeship. Both the Globe and Herald have issued editorials extremely critical of the Council’s actions, calling it a “Ship of Fools” and “manufacturing madness.”

Before this controversy, I actually didn’t even know Joe personally, but I was so upset about what I read, that I started to do research and then write emails to the council members, as well as having a dialogue with Joe as well.  I also took the time to listen to the audio of the nomination hearing. I can tell you it is shocking, reminding me of a McCarthy era witch-hunt. Listen for yourself here.

Joseph Berman has a great reputation and superlative skills and experience.  Joe’s bio is here:  http://www.lgllp.com/joseph-s-berman/.  We need more judges like Joe who have a strong business and technology background as the bench has been increasingly populated with former district attorneys and public defenders who lack the skills and experience in today’s  complex technology and business world.

Sometimes you see an injustice and you think, “well, there’s nothing I can do.” I thought that as well, initially, then I was inspired to take action. But the Council won’t change their minds until they hear from you. That’s where you come in.

Please consider sending an email to the council members who are still opposing Joe’s nomination. You can simply cut and paste the email below or write your own.

I thank you in advance for doing something small to correct an injustice. Next post, we’ll be back to real estate!

************

To: ocipollini@aol.com, jubinville@comcast.net, twklaw@aol.com, jcaissie@caplettelaw.com, albanom@the-spa.com

Dear Councilors, I write to support the nomination of Joseph Berman to the Superior Court. I have reviewed Mr. Berman’s credentials and there is no question in my mind that Mr. Berman is eminently qualified to serve in the Superior Court, as the Governor and your fellow council members have concluded.

However, I understand there has been some controversy surrounding Mr. Berman’s affiliation with the Anti-Defamation League and its previous national political position on the Armenia Genocide. As the Boston Globe recently reported, Mr. Berman was a vocal critic of the policy and ultimately the ADL reversed its position. Regardless, you cannot hold one position of a national organization against one individual who is affiliated with it who does not share that same viewpoint.

We need more judges like Joe who have a strong business and technology legal background as the bench has been increasingly populated with former district attorneys and public defenders who lack the skills and experience in today’s increasingly complex technology and business world.

I would hope that you will reconsider your position on Mr. Berman and give a favorable vote in the upcoming hearing.

/s/ Name, address

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