Councilor demands answers on former judge’s hiring

Boston Statehouse

FILE – This Jan. 14, 2013, file photo shows a gavel sits on a desk inside the Court of Appeals at the Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center in Denver. The coronavirus pandemic has crippled the U.S. legal system, creating constitutional dilemmas as the accused miss their days in court. Judges from California to Maine have postponed trials and nearly all in-person hearings to keep crowds from packing courthouses. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)

BOSTON (SHNS) – A member of the Governor’s Council asked Gov. Charlie Baker on Wednesday to fire a former judge Industrial Accident Board judge who landed a job at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services after her reappointment as a judge was withdrawn last year.

Councilor Marilyn Devaney delivered a letter to Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito asking that Sabina Herlihy be removed from her position in the Baker administration. Devaney read that letter during the council’s public assembly on Wednesday, questioning the decision to hire Herlihy and why Herlihy continued to be paid by the IAB months after her judicial nomination was withdrawn. “Sabina left in disgrace as judge of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Why is she being rewarded?” Devaney asked.

Herlihy was renominated in January 2020 by Gov. Baker to remain at the IAB as an administrative judge presiding over disputed workers’ compensation cases. Her nomination, however, was withdrawn that same month. Devaney said she received complaints prior to Herlihy’s confirmation hearing about the former judge’s “unacceptable, rude, disrespectful behavior toward many injured workers.”

Two lawyers also testified against her. Given the circumstances of her withdrawal, Devaney questioned why Herlihy remained on the state payroll as an administrative judge through Nov. 7, and the origin of a $8,250 buyout that shows up on state payroll records. The Watertown Democrat also asked the Baker administration to explain how she landed her current position at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. Devaney described Herlihy’s position as deputy director of human resources, while the state’s public payroll database lists her title as “dep dir board of hearing” within EOHHS.

Herlihy’s salary is listed as $103,942 a year. Polito told Devaney that she and the governor had received her letter that morning, and were working on a response. A spokeswoman for the governor said Wednesday afternoon that the administration had nothing to add regarding Devaney’s letter or her concerns beyond Polito’s comments.

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