ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

Promise Clock: Middlesex County (Mass.) District Attorney Unresponsive to Public Records Act

 In the course of our investigation into district attorneys’ offices that earn kickbacks from a company that collects bounced checks, we used public records laws to obtains thousands of pages of contracts and budget documents. Only one DA’s office refused to provide records.

That would be Middlesex County, Mass., and District Attorney Gerry Leone.

We filed our first request on Oct. 20, 2008. Leone’s office didn’t respond within the 10-day period required by law, so we turned to the Secretary of the Commonwealth, which monitors compliance with the Massachusetts Public Records Act. For several weeks, we worked with the secretary’s office because no one at Leone’s office would return calls or e-mails.

On Dec. 16, 2008, the secretary’s office wrote a letter to assistant Middlesex DA Kerry Kilcoyne (PDF), informing her that the requested records are public documents and that failing to provide them “may be a violation of law.” We filed a new request on March 19 but still have no records. We start the clock at Dec. 16, 2008.

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