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Ryan, Sullivan clash at Middlesex DA debate

Middlesex DA Marian Ryan and challenger Michael Sullivan spoke at a previous event.

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

Middlesex DA Marian Ryan and challenger Michael Sullivan spoke at a previous event.

FRAMINGHAM — Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan and the man vying to unseat her, Michael A. Sullivan, clashed Wednesday night on several hot-button issues, including the handling of the Jared Remy case and questions surrounding each candidate’s transparency in public office.

Speaking during a debate at the Framingham Public Library, Sullivan, the current clerk of the Middlesex courts, chided Ryan for initially withholding portions of a highly anticipated review of her office’s handling of the Remy case.

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“I think there were things to hide,” Sullivan said. “The district attorney did that, and then she got caught.”

An assistant district attorney chose not to ask a judge to hold Remy during his August 2013 arraignment on charges of assaulting his girlfriend, Jennifer Martel. He walked free and killed her the following night.

Ryan recently conceded that she initially withheld a summary of interviews with employees as part of the report because she had told them to speak candidly. She stood by that decision Wednesday night and said that rather than subject her young subordinates to media scrutiny, she chose to take full responsibility for the Remy case.

She also criticized Sullivan for collecting a $1.2 million referral fee as a private lawyer in a personal injury case, which she said is a far higher fee than is customary. And she also blasted consulting work he did, while serving as court clerk, for a real estate project that could have wound up in the courts in his jurisdiction.

“What’s the developer paying for? They’re paying you for access,” Ryan said.

Sullivan said the referral fee was a negotiated rate and that he would not apologize for supporting his family. He said he would have recused himself if the real estate project ever became the subject of legal proceedings in Middlesex County.

More coverage:

In Middlesex DA bid, Michael Sullivan relies on family

DA withheld 19 pages of Jared Remy report, may have violated law

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.
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