Metro

Massachusetts prosecutors spend $68,000 to fight public records lawsuit by AG

Attorney General Maura Healey filed the lawsuit two years ago against three district attorneys.
Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/File 2018
Attorney General Maura Healey filed the lawsuit two years ago against three district attorneys.

Here’s one measure of the cost of withholding public records:

Three district attorneys have spent approximately $68,000 fighting a so-far-unsuccessful battle to withhold records from the Globe. And the legal bills could climb further if the DAs decide to appeal an order by a Suffolk Superior Court judge last month to turn over the records.

“All litigation is costly,” noted the DAs’ attorney, Thomas R. Kiley of lawfirm Gosgrove, Eisenberg & Kiley.

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Attorney General Maura Healey filed the lawsuit two years ago against Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz, Worcester District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr., and Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael D. O’Keefe after all three of their offices denied the Globe’s request for data on the cases they prosecuted, including the types of cases and the outcomes.

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Secretary of State William F. Galvin’s office first ordered the agencies to turn over the records, but the DAs’ offices declined, citing various exemptions in the law. Healey then filed suit after Galvin’s office asked her office to intervene.

Last month, Suffolk Superior Court Justice Rosemary Connolly sided with Healey’s office and ordered the offices to turn over the records, which the Globe hopes to use to analyze the workings of the state’s criminal justice system.

A spokeswoman for the Worcester district attorney’s office said Thursday evening the DAs are still mulling whether to appeal Connolly’s ruling.

But in the meantime, the office provided the Globe with 38 pages of legal bills the offices have accumulated so far for outside counsel from Nov. 25, 2016, through Nov. 1, 2018.

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Based on the bills, the Globe estimated the total cost of litigation has exceeded $68,000 so far. But the bills are complicated by the fact that they contain a number of adjustments, as well as payments from three district attorneys’ offices. In addition, they would not reflect any costs logged since Nov. 1. Kiley said late Thursday he thought the Globe’s estimate was “in the ballpark” but could not confirm the exact amount without reviewing the firm’s billing records.

Todd Wallack can be reached at twallack@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @twallack.