Gov’s Councilor nominated for Dudley judge after husband’s OUI case moved

Governor’s Councilor Jen Caissie was nominated Wednesday for a judgeship in the Dudley District Court, months after her husband’s drunk driving case was moved from that same court to Palmer to “prevent a conflict of interest,” court records show.

Caissie’s husband, Burke Desautels, allegedly drunkenly crashed his Mercedes-Benz into a parked Dodge Caravan, sending it about 30 feet onto someone’s lawn in Webster on April 20. He was arrested and charged with a second drunk driving offense, negligent operation and speeding.

Chief Justice of the District Court Paul Dawley ordered a transfer of the case on April 22, two days after his arrest, “in order to prevent a conflict of interest,” the document states.

In a statement to the Herald, a spokesperson for Gov. Charlie Baker’s office noted that the case was moved to Palmer in April to avoid a conflict of interest due to Cassie’s law practice and because Worcester County is prosecuting the case (where she is a special prosecutor).

Caissie was not at the Governor’s Council meeting Wednesday because she thought it would, “not be appropriate for her to physically be here,” Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said, and indicated that she would submit her resignation to the council if she is confirmed. Caissie will come before her fellow councilors for a hearing next week.

Councilor Terrance Kennedy argued that Desautels’ arrest “has nothing to do” with Caissie’s qualifications.

“She should be judged not by the actions of others, but by her intelligence and experience. Her ability to be fair and impartial. To treat people with respect and dignity,” Kennedy told the Herald. “Jen Cassie meets all those criteria.”

Caissie, of Oxford, has over 20 years of legal experience and has served as the only Republican on the eight-member Governor’s Council since 2010. Caissie could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Many Webster residents were “visibly agitated” and “yelling” at both Desautels and police, according to reports. Desautels refused a Breathalyzer and other sobriety tests, court records show, and his Mercedes had “heavy” damage to the front and passenger side.

A witness under the age of 18 described Desautels, 52, as “wobbly,” and smelling of alcohol, according to police reports. Other witnesses and police said his speech was “thick-tongued,” and “slurred,” estimating that he was driving 45 miles per hour in a 20-mph zone.

Desautels received probation for operating under the influence in the Worcester District Court in March 1991, records show, making this his second offense. Springfield-based attorney Joseph Barnard did not return requests for comment. Desautels’ pretrial hearing was held on July 12; his trial is set for Oct. 4.

In an earlier vote of the Governor’s Council, Taunton Mayor Thomas Hoye was approved as to Bristol County Register of Probate, despite pointed questions about the timing of his appointment and Rep. Shaunna O’Connell’s quick candidacy to replace him that came up during a hearing last week.

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Source:: Boston Herald

      

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