Daniel F. Conley

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Daniel F. Conley
DFC2013.jpg
District Attorney for Suffolk County, Massachusetts
Assumed office
2002
Preceded by Ralph C. Martin II
Member of the Boston City Council from District 5
In office
1994–2002
Preceded by Tom Menino
Succeeded by Robert Consalvo
Personal details
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Residence Boston
Alma mater Stonehill College
Suffolk University Law School
Occupation Attorney
Politician

Daniel F. Conley is the current District Attorney for Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States who serves Boston, Revere, Chelsea and Winthrop.

Appointed to the office in February 2002, Conley was later elected on November 5, 2002 and has held the office since that time. As district attorney, Conley oversees the largest and busiest district attorney's office in Massachusetts. His office is currently responsible for the prosecution of between 40,000 to 50,000 criminal cases every year in the state's most densely populated county.

Conley ran for the 2013 Boston mayoral election to replace Thomas Menino and lost, garnering only 11% of the vote.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

Conley graduated from Stonehill College in 1980 and Suffolk University Law School in 1983.[citation needed] He was initially hired by the Suffolk County District Attorney after passing the Massachusetts Bar Exam. He was given a Municipal Court assignment as an Assistant D.A. and he would later prosecute juvenile cases in the Boston Juvenile Court. In 1987 he procured a position with the Suffolk Superior Court where he prosecuted felony cases. When gang violence increased in Boston during the late 1980s and early 1990s, he was transferred by then District Attorney Ralph Martin to the anti-gang violence task force.[citation needed] In 1992 he went to the Homicide Unit of the D.A.'s office. Conley served as an assistant district attorney for a total of nine years, during which time he prosecuted homicides and other serious felonies including drug trafficking, non-fatal shootings, and intimate partner violence.[citation needed]

City council[edit]

In 1993, he left the Suffolk District Attorney's office to run for a seat on the Boston City Council. Constituents elected him to the District Five seat, where he served for eight years and served several terms as chairman of the Council's Public Safety Committee. He remained on the Boston City Council until he was appointed Suffolk County's 14th district attorney on February 19, 2002.

District attorney[edit]

Massachusetts is one of only four states (along with the District of Columbia) that have no continuing legal education requirement for the District Attorney's office. This has led to criticism of how Conley's office handles its caseload, with juvenile cases in particular. Prosecutors are not incentivized to stay after work and learn about adolescent brain development, and trauma and poverty and how they impact behavior.[2] Many consider the lack of continuing legal education as a possible reason that Massachusetts prosecutors have violated defendants’ rights to a fair trial regularly and without punishment.[3] Conley has indicated that he does not intend to make any changes at this time and insists the assistant district attorneys practicing in Boston and Suffolk County have the highest level of advocacy for the communities they serve.

In 2004, Conley and the then-Commissioner of the Boston Police Department empaneled a blue-ribbon task force to evaluate the ways in which police gather and prosecutors use eyewitness evidence. In an effort to ensure that the historical wrongful convictions that came to light under his leadership never reoccurred, Conley assigned his top courtroom prosecutor to join with ranking police officials, prominent defense attorneys, and the nation's leading academic expert on eyewitness identification to review the investigative processes by which eyewitness evidence was gathered and recommend changes that would minimize the likelihood of faulty identifications.[4]

The panel returned with reforms that were implemented by area law enforcement. The reforms prompted defense attorney Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project[5] to cite Boston and Suffolk County as being "at the forefront of the country" [6] in averting wrongful convictions, and eyewitness evidence expert Gary Wells to call them the "Gold Standard"[7] to which other jurisdictions should aspire.

Shortly after taking office, Conley implemented a policy of assenting to any reasonable request for post-conviction testing of DNA evidence that was unavailable at the time of a defendant's trial. In 2011, Conley voiced his support, with additional recommendations, for legislation that would expand that voluntary policy statewide. "[T]his legislation codifies many of the practices that I voluntarily put in place six or seven years ago," Conley wrote to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary. "These are good practices that serve the interest of justice."[8]

Under Conley's stewardship, the Suffolk District Attorney's Office partnered with numerous service providers, government agencies, and victim advocacy groups to build the Family Justice Center of Boston.[9] The FJCB streamlines services for victims of child abuse, intimate partner violence, and sexual crimes by coordinating the responses of numerous agencies and providers - including police, prosecutors, social workers, and others - under one roof. The burdens on victims are reduced while efforts to hold their abusers accountable under the law are enhanced.

Also operating out of the FJCB is Support to End Exploitation Now (SEEN), a multi-agency task force directed by members of Conley's office that has twice been named one of the Top 50 Innovative Government Projects by the Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation.[10][11]

2013 mayoral election[edit]

In April 2013, Conley announced that he was running in the 2013 Boston mayoral election. He entered the field as the best financed candidate at the time.[12] However, temperament concerns were raised at a meet-and-greet session during the election, when he angrily responded to two questioners.[13] He placed fourth in the primary election on September 25, 2013, receiving 11% of the vote.[14]

Awards[edit]

In 1999, Conley was presented with the O'Riordan-Mundy Award, an honor bestowed by former prosecutors, in recognition of his distinguished service to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, the legal community, and the citizens of Massachusetts. In 2003, he was named the Suffolk Law School Irish-American Law Society's Person of the Year in that award's inaugural presentation. In 2005, he was named Lawyer of the Year by the Frank J. Murray Inn of Court for outstanding contributions to the pursuit of ethics, civility, and professionalism in the courtroom. In 2008, he was awarded the Boston Bar Association's Distinguished Public Service Award for his work to rectify historical wrongful convictions and prevent their recurrence. In 2011, Conley was singled out for recognition by the non-profit My Life My Choice program for his work to protect the child victims of commercial sexual exploitation. In 2015, he was named a Trailblazer for Social Change by the Suffolk University Law School Student Bar Association's Diversity and Inclusion Committee.[15]

Conley has also received various honors recognizing his work in prosecution from the Sons of Italy, Stonehill College's St. Thomas More Society, the Massachusetts Fraternal Order of Police, the Irish-American Police Officers Association of Massachusetts, Rotary International, the Department of Defense’s Employer Support for the Guard and Reserve program, and Stop Handgun Violence, a non-profit organization.

Organizations[edit]

Conley is a former president of the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, is on the Board of Directors of the National District Attorneys Association, is a member of Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, and is a member of both the Board of Directors of the YMCA of Greater Boston and of Catholic Memorial High School.

Personal life[edit]

Conley lives in Boston (West Roxbury) with his wife and two children, Jim and Christine.

References[edit]