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Judge Dougan received more than $550,000 in free legal aid to fight bias charges

Supporters of Judge Raymond G. Dougan, accused of consistently siding with defendants, say he could not have financially matched the legal resources of the conduct commission.
Supporters of Judge Raymond G. Dougan, accused of consistently siding with defendants, say he could not have financially matched the legal resources of the conduct commission.Credit: Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/File 2011

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Boston Municipal Court Judge Raymond G. Dougan received more than $550,000 in free legal services from a top Boston law firm to defend him against bias charges, according to a new financial report, raising new concerns about the court system’s willingness to let judges accept large gifts from attorneys.

Dougan relied on free legal services from the law firm Foley Hoag in his successful two-year fight against charges that he consistently sided with criminal defendants. In 2012 alone, Dougan reported receiving $472,000 in free legal services from the firm.

The Committee on Judicial Conduct started to investigate Dougan’s free legal aid earlier this year, but dropped the inquiry after a judicial ethics panel said some gifts were acceptable.

“So one of the biggest law firms in Boston gave a Boston judge a gift worth over half a million dollars? What could be wrong with that?” said Jill Pearson, the former executive director of the Commission on Judicial Conduct who retired last year.

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