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Romney calls for judge to resign

From the Associated Press

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said Saturday that a judge he appointed while Massachusetts governor should resign because she released without bail a convicted killer now charged with murdering a young couple.

The decision by Superior Court Judge Kathe Tuttman to free Daniel Tavares Jr. “showed an inexplicable lack of good judgment in a hearing that decided to put someone on the street who had not only in the past been convicted of manslaughter, but had threatened the lives of other individuals and was a flight risk,” Romney told reporters during a campaign stop in Derry.

“And I think on that basis, that despite her record as being a law-and-order prosecutor, her lack of judgment suggests that she needs to resign from that post.”

Tuttman declined to comment, but Joan Kenney, speaking for the court, said the judge was highly competent and qualified. “Her decision was based on the bail statute and the facts of the case before her,” she said.

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Tavares, 41, had completed his manslaughter sentence and had been charged with assaulting two prison guards when he was freed.

Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom said that Tavares, while imprisoned in Massachusetts, had threatened to kill Romney and other state officials. The threat was made in a letter intercepted by prison officials in February 2006.

In June, Tavares completed a 16-year manslaughter sentence for killing his mother, but prosecutors tried to keep him in prison for the alleged guard assaults. A district court judge approved bail of $50,000. In July, Tuttman overturned that decision and freed Tavares on personal recognizance.

The transcript of that hearing shows that prosecutors did not mention Tavares’ alleged threats and did not ask the judge for a separate hearing on whether he would be dangerous if released while awaiting trial on the assault charges. Instead, they underscored his history of violence and asked that if he were to be released, he be monitored with a GPS device.

The judge declined, said she was presented with no evidence that Tavares was a flight risk and freed him on condition that he call probation officers three times a week, live with his sister and work. Tavares fled to Graham, Wash., with a woman he met while in prison.

On Monday, Tavares was arrested for allegedly shooting to death Brian Mauck, 30, and Beverly Mauck, 28.

Edward P. Ryan Jr., a past president of the Massachusetts Bar Assn., said Tuttman had made the correct call based on state law “and for Romney to call for her to resign is nothing more than political expediency.”

“If Romney had any courage, he would stand up and say this judge did the right thing,” Ryan said. Prosecutors “offered no facts other than to refer to his record” in arguing for Tavares to be held on bail.


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