Friday, January 06, 2006

Reilly's Response on WGBH

Over at Blue Mass. Group, Charley mentioned how poorly Attorney General Tom Reilly handled his Wednesday interview with Emily Rooney on Greater Boston, particularly when discussing the recent controversy over his placing a call to the Worcester District Attorney asking him to make sure a confidential autopsy report stayed out of the media. I only got a chance to see the interview tonight, and I saw from server records that a lot of people are looking for it and finding their way to the .08 Acre Homestead. Since WGBH is really bad about putting these sorts of things up on their website, I thought I'd transcribe that part of the interview. I transcribed this myself, so I'm sure it's not exact, and there was a lot of the two talking over each other, but it's the best I could do and still have it make sense:

Emily Rooney: You're also a big supporter of Melanie's Law. Now, I'm curious. There's this case in Southborough, where these two young girls were killed back in October. The toxicology reports have not been released, but there was speculation in the Metro West newspaper that perhaps drunken driving had been involved. And your office, you got involved in that case because Conte the DA up there says that toxicology reports are part of a person's health records and don't have to be released. But why not fight to have them released? Isn't this something that -- frankly it's curiosity, I'll have to admit people want to what happened there -- and is this something people want to know to protect other children?

Attorney General Tom Reilly: My thoughts are with the family. I can't imagine anything worse than losing one child, but imagine two children, losing them in a tragic accident.

ER: But why did you get involved?

TR: Those are private medical records.

ER: Are they really?

TR: Yes they are.

ER: If they had killed somebody would they be?

TR: But they didn't harm anybody but themselves.

ER: One was a murderer, and one was -- if you look at it that way, the driver killed somebody.

TR: It's a horrible tragedy within one family. I thought that this family had suffered enough, and that these records were private medical records and should not be made public. And that happens to be the law in this state. I was right on the law. More important than that, I think that this family...

ER: But couldn't there be a criminal case involved here, if they were served by somebody?

TR: There's no criminal case that, certainly, I know of. Maybe people wanted to know that, but that's private information -- private medical records.

ER: But they were both underage, though, somebody served them alcohol.

TR: It's just a terrible, terrible tragedy that's occurred. My heart goes out to...

ER: Well, I think we all feel that way.

TR: My heart goes out to that family, and they've suffered enough. And I wish all this wasn't happening now. I just can't imagine going through it.

ER: How did you get involved in it?

TR: I called the district attorney, and certainly was aware of the situation -- I was following it. The law happens to support -- these are private medical records. They are not public records and should not be released. I have many conversations with district attorneys on cases. But first and foremost, it was the family, and the suffering that has gone on. This shouldn't even have gotten this far. This family's suffered enough. Let it be. Let them move on, to the extent that they can. I can't imagine how you deal with that. That's where my thoughts were. I never spoke to the family about this at all. But I did decide that those toxicology reports were their records, the records of their children, and they should be protected. Their privacy should be protected. They should be given the opportunity -- as I said, I just can't imagine having to deal with that without picking up the paper and reliving it again and going through it again. I wish the media would just leave it alone. Just leave them alone and let them deal as best they can. I can't even imagine dealing with it -- I guess I can, in some ways. My family suffered with certain things, and losing a child is a terrible, terrible thing. It's not the way life should be. And losing two in one accident, that's enough.
Personally, I think this hurts not because Reilly did anything wrong (he didn't -- it would have been illegal for the DA to leak the records anyway) but because it plays into the theme that Reilly is a political insider who makes things happen for his friends. I think that's a charge that could stick to Reilly, even if it's not true.

Ben has Reilly's official response up over in that thread at Blue Mass. Group. Adam at Universal Hub has some interesting insight into Worcester County DA John Conte and his relationship with the media.