Scott Harshbarger

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Scott Harshbarger
Scott Harshbarger2.jpg
Attorney General of Massachusetts
In office
January 3, 1991 – January 7, 1999
Governor Bill Weld
Paul Cellucci
Preceded by Jim Shannon
Succeeded by Tom Reilly
District Attorney of Middlesex County
In office
Preceded by John Droney
Succeeded by Tom Reilly
Personal details
Born Luther Scott Harshbarger
(1941-12-01) December 1, 1941 (age 75)
New Haven, Connecticut, U.S.
Political party Democratic (–2016)
United Independent Party (2016) [1]
Alma mater Harvard University

Luther Scott Harshbarger (born December 1, 1941) is a lawyer politician from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts who is a member of the United Independent Party and was formerly a member of the Democratic Party. He is currently Senior Counsel in the Boston law firm of Casner & Edwards, LLP.[2] Harshbarger is married to Judith Stephenson. They have five children.

Education and early career[edit]

Harshbarger was born in New Haven, Connecticut. He attended Harvard College, where he was a halfback on the varsity football team, and Harvard Law School. After law school, Harshbarger worked as a public defender and civil rights attorney.[3] He was first elected as District Attorney (DA) of Middlesex County, Massachusetts in 1982, defeating incumbent DA John Droney in the Democratic primary. He was re-elected in 1986.

Political career[edit]

Middlesex District Attorney[edit]

Harshbarger served as District Attorney for 8 years. Amongst the cases his office handled he obtained the conviction of Gerald Amirault and other employees of the Fells Acres Day Care Center in Malden, Massachusetts.[citation needed] Though subsequently reversed by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Council (citing the need for "finality") the convictions of Violet and Cheryl Amirault were overturned in 1995, in Massachusetts Superior Court.[4] Following the Judicial Council's reinstatement of the verdict, another Superior Court Judge, Isaac Borenstein, granted two separate motions for new trials to the accused. Borenstein held that the interrogations of children by Harshbarger's office and its designated experts, were so tainted by "grave errors" in the investigation process that they could not be used in any new trial. [5] However, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court once again ruled to send the women back to prison. [6]The case has been criticized as a miscarriage of justice in publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The Nation.

Harshbarger was elected President of the Massachusetts Association of District Attorneys and was awarded the Livingston Hall Award by the American Bar Association for Harshbarger's outstanding work in Juvenile Justice.

Attorney General[edit]

In 1990, he was elected Attorney General of Massachusetts, defeating incumbent James Shannon in the Democratic primary. He was re-elected in 1994 with 70 percent of the vote.[7] Harshbarger was one of the first Attorneys General in the nation to sue the tobacco industry for manufacturing a product, cigarettes, which causes disease and death when used as designed by the industry. Harshbarger was elected President of the National Attorneys General Association.

Gubernatorial bid[edit]

He was the Democratic nominee for Governor of Massachusetts in the 1998 gubernatorial election. He lost in a close race to incumbent Republican Governor Paul Celucci.[8] Afterwards, Harshbarger served as president of the public interest organization Common Cause for three years, where he spearheaded the successful push for campaign finance reform in 2002 (McCain-Feingold).

Changing party[edit]

In June, 2016 Harshbarger announced that he would be leaving the Democratic Party to join the United Independent Party to assist them in reaching the voter enrollment necessary to remain a recognized party in Massachusetts.[9]

Return to private legal practice[edit]

Since 2003, Harshbarger has practiced law in the private sector, focusing on corporate governance and related issues. He is currently Senior Counsel in the Boston law firm of Casner & Edwards, LLP. Prior to joining Casner & Edwards, Harshbarger was Senior Counsel at Proskauer Rose LLP[10] in Boston, MA. Harshbarger has continued to serve the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a private practice attorney by accepting appointments by both Republican and Democratic Governors of MA . He has chaired the Probation Reform Commission and Correctional Reform Commission. He also serves as member of the MA Supreme Judicial Court Management Advisory Board.

ACORN investigation[edit]

On September 22, 2009, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) announced that Harshbarger and Proskauer "would lead an independent inquiry into the organizational systems and processes surrounding the social services of the organization" pursuant to the recent allegations of corruption within that organization in the ACORN 2009 undercover videos controversy.[11] Harshbarger issued his written report, essentially exonerating ACORN from any alleged illegal activity, in December 2009.[12][13]


Legal offices
Preceded by
John Droney
District Attorney of Middlesex County
Succeeded by
Tom Reilly
Preceded by
Jim Shannon
Attorney General of Massachusetts
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mark Roosevelt
Democratic nominee for Governor of Massachusetts
Succeeded by
Shannon O'Brien