Councilor: State Police Examining Allegations Against Judicial Nominee

The board that vets state judges cancelled a scheduled nomination hearing for attorney Robert Harnais after it received anonymous allegations against him that have been referred to the state police.

The Governor's Council abruptly postponed Wednesday's hearing for Harnais, who is former acting sheriff for Norfolk County and general counsel for the Norfolk Sheriff.

Governor's Councilor Eileen Duff said board members recently received the allegations in an anonymous letter. She wouldn't describe the allegations, but said the Council wants a full investigation.

"All the councilors are doing their own due diligence and the governor's office has asked the state police to do a thorough, unbiased investigation into any allegations against him," Duff said.

Harnais previously informed the council that he was charged with assault and battery in 2002 and said he was found not guilty seven months later.

Gov. Charlie Baker nominated Harnais to the $184,000 a year post as associate justice to the district court earlier this month. The Baker administration has not commented on the cancelled hearing.

"I don't put any credibility in these anonymous allegations," said Governor's Council member Terence Kennedy. "The Council is just exercising an overabundance of caution and I think Mr. Harnais will be fine."

The hearing has been rescheduled to Oct. 14.

This article was originally published on September 30, 2020.


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Deborah Becker Host/Reporter
Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.



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