Stability expected with new Mass. AG

John O'Brien Jan. 18, 2007, 5:15pm


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Martha Coakley was sworn in as Massachusett's first female attorney general Wednesday two months after being elected in a landslide, and a member of the Chambridge Chamber of Commerce doesn't anticipate much changing.

Coakley previously served as the Middlesex district attorney for eight years and replaces Thomas Reilly, whom she also replaced when she became the Middlesex district attorney.

Reilly had replaced Scott Harshbarger in the Middlesex D.A.'s office in 1990, then also replaced him as attorney general in 1998.

Reilly stepped down to take a run at the governor's office last year but came up short, just like Harshbarger had in 1998.

With the assembly line of attorneys general coming out of the Middlesex D.A.'s office, Chambridge Chamber of Commerce Director of Government Affairs Terrance Smith said the predictability from the AG's office should continue with Coakley.

"My expectation is things should pretty much be as they have been," he said. "I think that, really, both the previous attorneys general have focused on the laws on the books in the Commonwealth and have generally been fair."

It has been easier to ride a background in criminal prosecution to the Attorney General's office than take a civil platform because of the visibility of the D.A.'s office, Smith said.

"I think most people here, when they think of the court system the first thing they think of is the criminal side," he added.

"Consumer protection, Workers Compensation, all those sorts of pieces of the puzzle, I don't really see changing a lot. I know there are some folks in the business community who would like to see changes but I don't think that's large enough to really change things.

"It looks like a fairly tough place to do business, but since there's a consistency there and an even-handedness with the Attorney General and the court system -- and I'm not an attorney or an expert on the stuff -- people know what to expect."

Before heading to the D.A.'s office, Coakley worked insurance defense at Parker, Coulter, Daley & White and later at Goodwin Proctor LLP, both in Boston.

The Democrat defeated Larry Frisoli, a member of the Chambridge Chamber, 73 percent to 27 percent in the general election in November after running unopposed in the primary.

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