A Ryan Succeeds a Lion in the Law Enforcement World of Massachusetts

Friday, May 31, 2013

If you think you have a challenging job, consider Marian Ryan’s situation.  She’s the new district attorney of Middlesex County, filling the seat long held by Gerry Leone. 
Ryan was chosen by Governor Deval Patrick last month to succeed Leone, who resigned to join Nixon Peabody, a Boston law firm.  Ryan’s appointment runs for the two years remaining on Leone’s term.  She’s hoping to be elected to her own four-year term after that.  
Taking Leone’s position is one thing, replacing him is another. 
I’m not knocking Ryan.  She’s been an assistant district attorney for 30 years and apparently knows the office backwards and forwards.  Everything said publicly about her is positive. 
I’m just saying Leone set new performance standards for district attorneys during the six years he was the top law enforcement officer in the state’s largest, most populous county.  Current and future DA’s have a lot to live up to because of him.
Leone is smart, tough, indefatigable and extremely disciplined.  He’s a workhorse.  In every job he ever held, including Assistant District Attorney, Criminal Bureau Chief in the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General, and First Assistant U.S. Attorney, he handled super-human caseloads.
Leone’s work ethic, combined with his fierce concern for the victims of the criminals he prosecuted, made him an especially compelling and admirable public figure.
In a profile of Leone that ran in the Boston Globe back in the summer of 2008, the mother of an assault victim whose assailant had been successfully prosecuted by Leone was quoted as saying, “He (Leone) should run for governor.”
Former Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly once said, “If I had a son, I’d want him to be just like Gerry Leone.”
Former Senate Ways & Means Chairman Steve Panagiotakos, the mahatma of the Merrimack, said when Leone announced his resignation as DA, “It’s a big loss for us.  Gerry was the consummate district attorney.”
Leone was like the Clark Kent of district attorneys: never flamboyant, always business-like.  But when he stepped before a microphone, or put out a statement, people paid attention.  He usually said something genuine.  For example, after his office won a murder conviction in early March against Nathaniel Fujita, a young man who’d murdered his former girlfriend in Wayland, he said:
“Today, Nathaniel Fujita has been found guilty of brutally murdering Lauren Astley.  While we are very grateful for the measure of justice delivered by the jury’s verdict, there remains an overwhelming sadness and emptiness amongst so many who are still working to process and recover from this unspeakably evil act.  Primary among the community who feel such profound loss are Lauren’s parents, who displayed such personal grace, strength and resilience despite the anguish and torment caused by the dark and evil actions of this defendant that robbed them of enjoying the light of their lives who was their only daughter.  We will continue to work as hard as we can, in concert with our community partners, to ensure that young people know there are options and resources available to them when they are in need of help to prevent teen dating and relationship violence.”
I heard some speculation that Leone, who is 50 years old and lives in Hopkinton, decided to walk away because he was sick of the depraved nature of the worst crimes he had to deal with.  One recent case, involving a man accused of raping thirteen infants and toddlers, was said to have weighed heavily on him for a long spell.
I don’t know if that’s true, but it’s plausible, given the way he took his work to heart.
I hope Leone’s departure was more a case of wanting a change in professional circumstances and an opportunity to make more money to provide for his family.  As DA, Leone earned $148,843 a year.  At Nixon Peabody, he can make twice that or more.
In a press release on Leone’s hiring, Andrew Glincher, Nixon Peabody’s managing partner, said, “Gerry’s arrival is a visible example of how we are bringing value to our clients in new ways.”  Translation: We’re going to monetize the Leone brand.
Leone did not come from a wealthy family.  He’s knocked himself out on the public payroll for decades, always giving 110%. Now he has a shot at a lucrative career in private practice.  He’d be crazy not to take it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Some excellent insight into a public offical's good performance that we would probably not have ever known if not published in this blog.

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