When Charlie Baker took office on Jan. 8, he did what many new governor's before him have done by immediately moving to rescind appointments made in the final two weeks by outgoing Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.
"Governor Baker acted to rescind 'any and all' recent appointments, effectively freezing the process to find out who was appointed to what to ensure that only the most qualified people were appointed," Baker Communications Director Tim Buckley said.
However, Buckley says Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn was never intended to be part of that group, referring to Quinn as the acting D.A., a term that Governor Patrick used in his letter to Quinn appointing him on Jan. 2.
"The Baker folks keep saying, well, he's acting. But there is no such thing as acting D.A. He is the D.A. unless someone replaces him," Secretary of State William Galvin said.
This might have all played out under the radar screen if the Bristol County District Attorney didn't oversee the high profile Aaron Hernandez murder trial, calling into question whether Quinn could soon be operating under questionable legal status.
It's a charge the District Attorney's office refutes.
Galvin explained that the distinction matters because Quinn's role is to appoint the prosecution team, which Galvin said means "any decisions made in the trial were his, potentially."
Quinn's office says the trial will not be affected by any of this, a point on which several legal experts agreed.
"My focus has been and will continue to be solely on the important day-to-day work at the Bristol County District Attorney's Office. As I have said all along, the decision is Gov. Baker's to make and I fully respect that fact," Quinn said in a statement.
According to Secretary of State Galvin, Charlie Baker now has until Friday to decide whether or not to make Thomas Quinn permanent, or replace him with an appointment of his choice.
Buckley said the decision will be made "soon."
"You know, I think it's much ado about nothing," he said.
"I wouldn't say it is much ado about nothing. What it is is a misunderstanding," he said.
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