Faced with findings reached by two outside prosecutors, Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan acknowledged that her office made a mistake when Jared Remy walked away from court last August, on the day he was arraigned on charges that he assaulted his girlfriend.
The next night, Remy allegedly stabbed and killed 27-year-old Jennifer Martel, his longtime girlfriend, in their Waltham townhouse. Now, the son of famed Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy awaits trial for Martel’s murder.
Last December, Ryan released a summary of the independent review — but not the full report. Why not? It addresses systemic failures, which led to Martel’s tragic death. While Ryan said those issues have been addressed, the public has a right to know exactly what went wrong, why, and how it was fixed.
The Waltham News Tribune filed a Freedom of Information request for access to the complete report, which was denied. The newspaper was told the report “directly relates to an active and open criminal case” and disclosure would be “presumptively prejudicial to effective law enforcement and prosecution and may reveal the Commonwealth’s case prior to trial.” (My Freedom of Information request is pending.)
The defendant’s right to a fair trial is important. So is protecting the DA’s case, although it’s fair to wonder how much competing concern there is for protecting the DA’s reputation.
The six-paragraph executive summary goes out of its way to praise the Middlesex DA’s office for “formidable commitment” to the prevention and prosecution of domestic violence cases. If true, the decision-making in the Remy case is all the more curious.
The outside review was conducted by Kevin M. Burke, a former Essex district attorney and secretary of public safety; and Jeanmarie Carroll, a Norfolk assistant district attorney.
In December, when Ryan released the executive summary, Burke told the Globe he found no evidence of special treatment. Any facts backing up that conclusion are all the more reason to release the full report, because they will increase public confidence in the integrity of the process.
According to the executive summary, Burke and Carroll reviewed the overall training and policies applied to domestic violence cases that are handled by the Middlesex district attorney office. They looked at police reports, affidavits, 911 tapes, a CD of the August 14 Waltham District Court arraignment; and criminal history record information. They also met directly with those involved in the arraignment and those in charge of supervising them.
The review found ample education and training on domestic violence risk factors and on case referral to district or superior court. “What was missing was attention at the pre-arraignment stage on decision-making,” the executive summary states.
In other words, training was adequate; supervision was not.
As a result, the independent review found that “Remy’s domestic violence criminal history, the facts in the August 13, 2013 police report, and the fact that there was a young child in the home were not given sufficient weight, while the victim’s decision not to come to court to extend the emergency restraining order or to request conditions of release was given excessive consideration in the evaluation.”
On his own, the assistant DA made the call not to seek bail or request a so-called “dangerousness” hearing, despite Remy’s lengthy history of legal problems. It includes charges of assaulting and threatening to kill a previous girlfriend in 2003; striking her with a telephone and kicking her in 2005, and then violating a restraining order that she had taken out against him.
Martel did not appear at Remy’s arraignment to renew an emergency restraining order. That was apparently a key factor in the assistant DA’s decision, and may be addressed in greater detail in the full report.
In the end, no one could protect Jennifer Martel.
The Globe previously reported that Jennifer’s mother, Patty Martel, said her daughter did not press to renew the restraining order at the request of the Remy family. According to Patty Martel, Jennifer had spoken to Remy’s mother, who begged her not to file any kind of complaint because it would ruin Jared Remy’s life and also told Jennifer they would protect her.
In the end, no one could protect Jennifer Martel. Now, no one should hide a report that sheds light on why.Joan Vennochi can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.