Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Merrigan For Governor's Council

From The Republican:

Ex-judge starts state council run
Tuesday, February 28, 2006

GREENFIELD - Hatless on a cold and windy day, lawyer and former Judge Thomas T. Merrigan completed a four-stop swing through Western Massachusetts yesterday afternoon, formally announcing his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for Governor's Council.

Merrigan said he has been eyeing a council seat for a long time, and has been drumming up support for a run since April.

He said he is uniquely qualified for the council, whose primary task is to approve or reject the governor's nominations for judgeships.

"I understand the challenges of the job and will rely upon my nearly twelve years of judicial experience to approve judicial nominees who will best serve the public safety and the public interest," he said.

Currently, there are no other declared candidates for the council seat held by Peter Vickery of Amherst, who is not seeking re-election. Former Springfield Mayor Theodore E. Dimauro has taken out nomination papers, but could not be reached about his intentions yesterday.

Merrigan began the day announcing on the steps of Springfield City Hall at 9:15 a.m., then drove to the Hampshire County Courthouse in Northampton to announce there, before heading to Berkshire County for a 2 p.m. declaration in Pittsfield. He reached the Franklin County Courthouse steps here at 4:30.

Introducing Merrigan was state Rep. Christopher J. Donelan, D-Orange, a former police officer who, in that role, had testified in cases before Merrigan when he was a judge in Orange District Court.

Now, Donelan said, Merrigan is "one of my constituents," and will be able to play a role in seeing that judges are appointed who have the community in mind.

"Our court has to be reflective of the community it serves," he said.

Merrigan said that as a member of the council he would push for quicker action by the governor to fill court vacancies, and fill them with qualified people from within the community they would serve.

"It is critical that nominees be appointed from the same communities they will pledge to serve and protect," he said.

Merrigan was particularly critical of Gov. W. Mitt Romney for not filling a judge vacancy in Hampden County Juvenile Court, and called for appointing "a qualified attorney from Hampden County."

Merrigan, 55, is a graduate of Deerfield Academy, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Kentucky Law School. He was a judge for 12 years, resigning in 2002 to return to practicing law, and is a partner in the Rawson, Merrigan & Litner law firm of Greenfield and Boston.

He and his wife, Margaret, have four children and live in Greenfield.

His brother, John F. Merrigan, is Franklin County Register of Probate and Family Court and a former state representative, and his sister, Maureen T. Winseck, is Greenfield town clerk.