BOSTON--Senate President William Bulger's top aide, Paul Mahoney, whose nomination for a Malden District Court judgeship touched off a bitter battle between his boss and Harvard Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz, was unanimously confirmed for the job yesterday by the Governor's Council.
Councilor James O'Brien (D-Worcester) said an investigation by members of the attorney general's staff found no credence to allegations made by Dershowitz that Mahoney had shown ethnic bias.
O'Brien said there also was no evidence to sustain Dershowitz's allegation that Mahoney's previous bid for a judgeship in 1982 was opposed by Mahoney's then boss, Suffolk County District Attorney Garrett Byrne, who is now deceased.
Dershowitz raised the allegations at a hearing last week at which Bulger accused him and attorney Harvey Silverglate of being "liars" and "murderers of reputations."
Councilor Edward O'Brien (D-Easthampton) suggested that Dershowitz violated lawyers' ethics by offering hearsay evidence and "slanderous claims."
Edward O'Brien suggested the Board of Bar Overseers, the agency that handles lawyer discipline, investigate Dershowitz.
"I would believe such an investigation would lead to a conclusion that Mr. Dershowitz richly deserves disciplinary action, be it censure, reprimand or worse," the Easthampton Democrat said.
Reached at his office, Dershowitz said he would welcome an investigation into the entire incident, including Bulger's comments.
"Eddie O'Brien has to recognize this is not South Africa or China," Dershowitz said, adding he was simply exercising his First Amendment free speech rights in seeking an investigation into allegations about Mahoney.
"The fact he [O'Brien] would single me out without Bulger shows this is a crass political move without any credibility whatsoever," Dershowitz said. "I have been looking for an objective neutral forum and the Board of Bar Overseers provides such a forum."
Bulger said he was pleased with Mahoney's confirmation and declined further comment about Dershowitz. Bulger said he was unaware of Edward O'Brien's plans to seek a bar investigation.
"I am just pleased the matter is settled," Bulger said. "I'm very happy for Massachusetts and for Paul and his family that the thing is squared away."
Councilor James O'Brien said, "If anything, Mr. Mahoney has stood up so well under the examination that he's gone through that I'm sure that he will be a credit to the judiciary. The weight of the evidence strongly supports Paul Mahoney."
S. Stephen Rosenfeld, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis' chief of staff, joined in the criticism of Dershowitz, but stopped short of advocating an investigation.
"I think that Mr. Mahoney's name has been smeared, yes I do think that I think he is qualified to be a judge and unfounded allegations and unsupported allegations were made in opposition," Rosenfeld said.
Bulger contended last week that Dershowitz and Silverglate, who was involved in the 75 State Street investigation two years ago which touched Bulger, were seeking revenge against him by attacking Mahoney.
Silverglate represented developer Harold Brown in the 75 State Street controversy in 1988. Brown claimed that Bulger accepted money through a former legal associate, Thomas Finnerty, in return for influence on the project. Bulger paid the money back within a year, and a federal investigation found no wrongdoing on his part.
Mahoney, 51, of East Boston, has served as Bulger's top aide since 1983. Before that he was general counsel to the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, was in private law practice and was an assistant district attorney.