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Opponent criticizes DA Marian Ryan’s management style

DA Marian Ryan was appointed in April 2013.

DA Marian Ryan was appointed in April 2013.

As Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan campaigns to win a full term, her challenger is blaming her for the recent departures of dozens of employees, saying the departures are due to Ryan’s mistreatment of employees. Ryan dismissed her opponent’s accusations.

Echoing complaints made by former employees in an article in Saturday’s Globe, Michael Sullivan, the Middlesex clerk of courts and a former Middlesex prosecutor, said Ryan has driven away talented prosecutors and other employees through a harsh management style and stricter policies on bail requests that undermine attorneys’ autonomy in the courtroom.

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The Globe article detailed the complaints of about a dozen employees, most of them prosecutors, who have left the office since Ryan took over in April 2013, when she was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick.

“Less than 16 months ago, the Governor handed over an office long considered the gold standard in efficiency and effectiveness to Ryan, and Saturday we read about her failed and troubling lack of leadership during this period,” Sullivan said in a statement on Monday. “I cannot remember a similar story involving any office in the state where so many former employees were so universal and outspoken in their criticism of a sitting DA.”

In an e-mail, Ryan’s campaign called Sullivan’s criticisms “qualitative assessments” — not facts.

“The fact is that DA Ryan is running the largest, busiest district attorney’s office in the Commonwealth and running it well,” said her campaign spokesman, Conor Yunits. “She’s not going to be lectured on leadership by a career politician.”

The aggressive tone on both sides underscores what has become an acrimonious campaign for district attorney that will end on Sept. 9, when voters head to the polls for the Democratic primary election.

In the article, Ryan acknowledged that her policy to tighten up supervision of prosecutors’ bail requests for domestic violence suspects was unpopular with many assistant district attorneys in her office.

But she rejected the assertion by former employees and other court observers that the policy was unreasonable.

She also denied instituting the supervision policy because of media scrutiny following the case of Jared Remy, who killed his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel, in August 2013, two days after a prosecutor agreed to his release on charges of assaulting her.

Ryan has said her sole interest in changing the office’s policy on bail requests was to ensure the safety of victims and the integrity of cases in the wake of Martel’s killing.

As many as 66 of about 240 employees in the office have left and been replaced during Ryan’s time at the helm. Ryan attributed many of the departures to factors such as desire for better pay and shorter commutes and hours.

Sullivan said the issues raised by former employees demonstrate the need for another debate. The candidates’ first and only such meeting was in Lowell earlier this month.

Yunits responded: “We are open to all neutral debate requests.”

Maria Cramer can be reached at mcramer@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @globemcramer.
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