The state Supreme Judicial Court has named a high-powered panel, including figures from the worlds of business, law, and government to probe hiring and promotion in the judicial branch, in the wake of a scandal involving the Probation Department.
The task force, led by former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, whose appointment was announced last month, will first scrutinize the Probation Department. The initial report is expected within 90 days, the court said in a statement.
The task force will then widen its scope and issue a comprehensive report on all the court departments within six months. Both reports are to be made public.
The court said that after independent counsel Paul Ware's report detailing systemic abuse in the hiring and promotion practices in the Probation Department, the task force will "make recommendations designed to ensure a fair system with transparent procedures in which the qualifications of an applicant are the sole criterion in hiring and promotion."
In addition to Harshbarger, the members of the panel are:
-- Stephen P. Crosby, founding and current dean of the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston;
-- Kathleen M. Donovan, managing director of Manpower Business Solutions;
-- Ruth Ellen Fitch, president of the Dimock Community Health Center;
-- Michael B. Keating, a partner at Foley Hoag LLP;
-- William J. Leahy, former chief counsel for the Committee for Public Counsel Services;
-- Hon. James F. McHugh, an associate justice of the Massachusetts Appeals Court;
-- Susan M. Prosnitz, executive director of the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service at Suffolk University Law School;
-- Harry Spence, a lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School, who was formerly the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Social Services; and
-- Steven H. Wright, executive partner for the Boston office of Holland and Knight LLP.
Ware was appointed to investigate the Probation Department after a Globe Spotlight Team report in May documented its deep culture of politicized patronage hiring and described the Probation Department as "an employment agency for the well-connected."
The revelations have roiled the State House. House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo said Monday he would file legislation that would make hiring and firing at the department subject to civil service rules. He was joined by Governor Deval Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray at the announcement, the Globe reported today.
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