An ethics complaint against Norfolk DA Michael “Meatpie” Morrissey has been filed with the Board of Bar Overseers (BBO) by a Plymouth attorney named Brian Barreira, for Morrissey’s statement three weeks ago demanding that protesters stop exercising their First Amendment rights in order to allow the lynching of Karen Read to proceed unimpeded. Mass Lawyers Weekly published a story about it yesterday:
At least one member of the bar thinks the Norfolk County district attorney broke the rules of professional conduct when he issued a video statement last month calling out the harassment of witnesses and the circulation of conspiracy theories related to his office’s murder prosecution of Karen Read.
“Conspiracy theories are not evidence,” DA Michael W. Morrissey said in his Aug. 25 statement. “The idea that multiple police departments, EMTs, fire personnel, the medical examiner, and the prosecuting agency are joined in, or taken-in by, a vast conspiracy should be seen for what it is — completely contrary to the evidence and a desperate attempt to re-assign guilt.”
Morrissey’s statement didn’t sit well with Plymouth lawyer Brian E. Barreira.
Though he’s not a criminal defense lawyer, Barreira became intrigued in the case after watching a YouTube video of a hearing in the matter. After viewing the Morrissey video, he found himself presented with all sorts of online content about the case, which has become something of a cause celeb for social media users far and near.
On Sept. 8, Barreira posted a blog on his probate and estate planning firm’s website making the case that Morrissey, by releasing his video statement, may have violated the Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct as they pertain to prosecutors.
Barreira writes in his blog that Morrissey “spent most of his time in the video talking to the public about his view of the facts of the case. Attorney Morrissey’s remarks were not even close to being narrowly tailored, as he seemed to be trying to convince the public that there is no reason to think the defendant is anything but guilty.”
This is exactly what Meatpie Morrissey did with his video statement – told the public that legitimate concerns about a likely conspiracy to coverup the murder of John O’Keefe should be summarily dismissed, simply because he said so.
Rule 3.8 (g) states that “The prosecutor in a criminal case shall … not avoid pursuit of evidence because the prosecutor believes it will damage the prosecution’s case or aid the accused.”
This is exactly what the prosecution has done this entire case. They have avoided obtaining the following evidence because they knew it would be damaging to their case:
- Interviewing Lucky Loughran, who reported that John O’Keefe’s body was not on the front lawn of Brian Albert’s at 2:30 AM
- Searching the inside of 34 Fairview Road
- Failing to ask neighbors on Fairview Road for Ring camera footage showing the condition of Karen Read’s tail light when she left the house
- Not interviewing Caitlin Albert, Brian Albert Jr, Colin Albert, and several other people who were inside the house until last month
- Failing to obtain geo fence data that would show who was inside the house and at what times
- Failing to obtain John O’Keefe’s Apple Health data, which would show him inside the house
- Opposing Rule 17 motions from the defense for Brian Albert and Jen McCabe’s cell phones, since the DA’s Office does not represent Albert or McCabe
- Opposing the defense’s motion for animal control records, which ended up showing that Brian Albert’s dog had a history of biting human beings
The list goes on and on. The primary means in which this “conspiracy” was conducted, was by NOT pursuing leads and evidence that might inculpate the Alberts and McCabes, and exculpate Karen Read.
Barreira is not the only legal mind who felt this way either.
Shira M. Diner, a clinical instructor at Boston University School of Law’s Defender Clinic, is president of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Diner says she isn’t familiar enough with the details of the Read case to speculate as to whether Morrissey may have breached any ethical rules. But Diner has little doubt that the Norfolk DA made the wrong move in releasing the video.
“The proper way for him to address the concerns he raised about witnesses and pretrial publicity is through jury selection, not by issuing a public statement,” Diner says. “We have a very robust system to make sure that people who are predisposed one way or the other don’t end up on our juries.”
Morrissey was hoping with his statement that the defense would respond publicly, and in so doing would prompt Judge Cannone to gag both sides. Morrissey realizes that the facts are on the side of Karen Read, so a mutual gag order would benefit the Commonwealth more than it would the defense. I believe this is why we have yet to hear from Alan Jackson or David Yannetti about this.
I mentioned during a live stream that Morrissey’s statements violate Massachusetts Rule of Professional Conduct 3.6 and 3.8 (f)(1), and it looks like Attorney Barreira agrees.
Massachusetts Rule of Professional Conduct 3.6 generally prohibits lawyers involved in a case from making extrajudicial statements that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be made public and will have a “substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.”
Meanwhile, Rule 3.8(f)(1) provides that, except for statements serving a “legitimate law enforcement purpose,” prosecutors must “refrain from making extrajudicial comments that have a substantial likelihood of heightening public condemnation of the accused and from making an extrajudicial statement that the prosecutor would be prohibited from making under Rule 3.6.”
Without a doubt, Morrissey’s statements were designed to heighten public condemnation of Karen Read. If you had not been following this story, and simply trusted that our institutions would not frame an innocent for murder, you would be inclined to believe that Karen Read was guilty based off of Morrissey’s statement. The only reason for him to do this was because he is losing so badly in the court of public opinion, which would make it very hard to find a jury willing to convict her. The solution was to poison a potential jury pool with blatant lies (like falsely stating that Michael Proctor was never at 34 Fairview Road on the day of the murder). Attorney Barreira agrees.
In his blog, Barreira argues that news outlets “picked up on Attorney Morrissey’s public statements and repeated his view of the facts, potentially poisoning the jury pool against the defendant. Attorney Morrissey therefore appears to have violated [Rule 3.8 (f)(1)].”
Barreira also argues that Morrissey appears to have violated Massachusetts’ ethics rules by failing to keep an open mind when bringing criminal charges for O’Keefe’s death.
“Attorney Morrissey’s online video made it sound like he had simply dismissed issues raised by the defense as baseless conspiracy theories,” Barreira writes. “Stubborn, lazy ignorance is not a good trait in anyone, but it would seem to be an especially bad trait for a powerful prosecutor to have in a murder case.”
Of course Meatpie’s propaganda minister David Traub disagreers with this assessment.
In responding to a request for comment on Morrissey’s video statement, David Traub, a spokesman for the Norfolk DA’s Office, writes that “Rules 3.6 and 3.8 are very clear that information contained in public documents is not out of bounds and that ‘[t]his rule does not preclude a lawyer from replying to charges of misconduct publicly made against him.’”
Newsflash – the public documents filed by your office states that Michael Proctor was at 34 Fairview Road on the day of the murder. Therefore Meatpie Morrissey is in clear violation of rules 3.6 and 3.8 and should be disbarred.
This government stooge also claimed that Morrissey never said Karen Read was guilty.
Further, Traub submits that the only statement Morrissey made about defendant Read was, “The subject of that murder indictment enjoys the Constitutional presumption of innocence.”
Karen Read’s entire defense is predicated on third party culpability. She has been forced to spend vast amounts of money to do the job the state is supposed to do in order to prove her innocence. In his video Morrissey dismissed her entire defense as a baseless conspiracy theory, which means he’s saying that she’s guilty.
Traub also said that the statement was fair game because Meatpie had to stop the intimidation of witnesses.
Finally, Traub contends that “[c]urtailing the intimidation of witnesses in a pending murder case is, in the language of 3.8 (f), ‘a legitimate law enforcement purpose.’”
Except no witnesses were ever intimidated. Not once. No threats were ever made against Jen McCabe or any of the Alberts. The purpose of witness intimidation is to prevent witnesses from testifying. We WANT Jen McCabe to testify.
Keep in mind, in Part 55 we published private communications from Traub, in which he promised bombshell evidence against Read that never came, and said that he only “thinks” the case was triable, nine days after charging her. He admitted that they did not have a definitive theory (and still doesn’t) to explain the autopsy photos, used words like “probably,” and said that he was “sure stuff will come out in the grand jury” to further charge Read.
How could he be “sure” that evidence would come forward proving Karen Read was guilty? Does that sound like someone who is seeking truth, or someone seeking a conviction?
Morrissey has to file a public response to Attorney Barreira’s ethics complaint, and Berreira will be allowed to respond to whatever nonsense that is.