Plymouth County DA faces former employee who assails his ethics and policies

Daniel Nichanian

Massachusetts’s Sept. 4 elections resolved three hotly disputed Democratic primaries for district attorney—and they also added a Democratic candidate where there was none: John Bradley received enough write-in votes in Plymouth County (south of Boston) to make it onto the ballot as the Democratic nominee against longtime Republican DA Timothy Cruz.

Bradley used to work as a prosecutor in Cruz’s office. He filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in 2012, claiming that he was fired for refusing to meet Cruz’s expectation that his employees donate to his reelection campaign. Bradley eventually received $248,000 in a settlement—but not before Cruz raised further eyebrows for choosing to pay a Boston law firm millions to defend him rather than relying on the free services of the attorney general. In recent years, Cruz’s office has also drawn criticism for its handling of cooperating witnesses and its failure to disclose exculpatory evidence, and it has faced allegations of racially selective prosecutions. In addition, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey sued Cruz in 2016 over his refusal to release information requested by journalists; the Boston Globe called this “the first time in recent memory the attorney general has filed a lawsuit to enforce the state’s public records laws.”

Picking up on the topic of his legal dispute with Cruz, Bradley says that if he is elected he would not allow his employees to contribute to his future campaigns. In an ACLU questionnaire, he also commits to collecting and releasing new data on prosecutorial decisions and their demographic patterns, and he outlines a number of other reforms he wishes to implement: notably, increasing the use of diversion programs and eliminating cash bail for all offenses except those he calls “serious felonies.” “The [DA’s] office has misguided and draconian policies on issues like plea bargaining and minimum mandatory sentencing resulting in racially and financially disparate incarceration,” Bradley told the ACLU. He says that he supports curbing mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses, though he also opposes their elimination.

As DA, Cruz has testified against legislative efforts to curb mandatory minimum sentences, often in coordination with the state’s other prosecutors. Over the years, he has also championed legislative proposals to toughen sentencing, for instance through new mandatory minimum sentences or stricter parole rules.