A Cape and Islands assistant district attorney previously found culpable of prosecutorial misconduct has re-emerged in a Cape Cod courtroom after several years of less locally visible appellate work.
Assistant District Attorney Laura Marshard appeared before Judge Mark Gildea Monday morning for the arraignment of James Adams on a cocaine trafficking charge. In district court, Adams had been represented by Rob Galibois, a Democratic candidate for Cape and Islands district attorney. Before Adams could be arraigned Monday, Galibois told the court he wouldn’t be representing Adams at the superior court level. Attorney Matthew Goldberg was later appointed as Adams’ attorney.
The courtroom appearance of Marshard both after a marked absence from superior court proceedings, and specifically in a case that would have put her in a legal contest with a candidate for the office she works for, raised the question of whether politics was somehow at play.
Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, a Republican, downplayed such a notion. O’Keefe told The Times his office was down two prosecutors after ADA Brian Glenny became a judge and with ADA Jen Bright poised to become a Barnstable County District Court assistant clerk magistrate. O’Keefe said it was practical to spread the extra caseload to the remaining attorneys in his office. “There’s nothing unusual about it,” he said.
Galibois told The Times he deemed it in his client’s best interest for him to exit the case: “In light of ADA Marshard’s disciplinary hearings and subsequent sanction, her ongoing employment with the district attorney’s office may well be a matter discussed either in interviews with media outlets and/or debates among candidates during this election season. To guard against any potential backlash against the client should my position about her ongoing employment be disfavored by the present administration. I removed myself from the matter.”
When asked if Marshard had made other superior court appearances or district court appearances on behalf of his office since she ran afoul of the Board of Bar Overseers, O’Keefe said, “I don’t think so.”
However, he did say she went before a grand jury regarding Adams. O’Keefe said he made the decision a few weeks ago to put her back to work in the lower courts.
Asked if she would be prosecuting cases on the Vineyard, O’Keefe said she wouldn’t. He said he expects her work to be in Barnstable County.
When asked for further details about Marshard’s appearance Monday morning, Galibois said, “I received notification that she was assigned to prosecute the case somewhat recently. I’ve been involved with this case for several months, as it was in the district court in Falmouth. And recently, apparently, the office assigned her to this case.”
Galibois said other prosecutors handled the case when it was in district court. He said he opted to bow out when it became clear he would be squaring off against Marshard.
“After learning about her assignment to the case — and it’s certainly no secret that I am a candidate for the district attorney’s office — [I] decided not to continue on with the representation of this client,” he said.
Asked if he saw the decision to assign her to the case as politically motivated, Galibois declined to speculate. “I cannot speculate as to the motivations of the present administration,” he said. “I can only march forward with our vision for a new DA’s office, and specifically, that would involve working with our talented law enforcement and community leaders to try to prevent crime and to continue to work with the court officials to reduce recidivism. But I can’t speculate as to their motivations.”
Galibois went on to say, “I wasn’t aware that she was handling cases in the courtroom. My understanding, after the hearing she went through, and after the suspension she had gone through, I thought she was retained by the office to work on appeals.”
Following a 2017 hearing, Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers found Marshard committed prosecutorial misconduct in relation to a Vineyard criminal matter. Of several counts leveled against Marshard, including withholding exculpatory evidence and failing to correct false testimony to a grand jury, the only count that was proven, according to a decision, was meeting with a witness without the witness having the benefit of their attorney being present. In 2018, a single justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld that finding and the sanctions that came with it, which included a suspension. O’Keefe rebutted the decisions against Marshard, offering detailed counterarguments in a press release that attacked the evidence and assertions presented by the Board of Bar Overseers, and attacked the credibility of witnesses, including defense attorneys on the Island.
When asked his stance on Marshard, Republican district attorney candidate Dan Higgins, who works in O’Keefe’s office and has been endorsed by the outgoing DA, said, “I was not involved in the decisionmaking process, but I’m sure District Attorney Michael O’Keefe received and reviewed all the relevant information before assigning her cases. As I understand it, the Board of Bar Overseers were satisfied and reinstated Ms. Marshard. Since then she has performed well in the appellate division of the office. It appears that District Attorney Michael O’Keefe believes in redemption, as do I. If elected, I would ensure that every prosecutor serves this community in a fair and ethical manner, and treats the litigants and the defense attorneys with respect and ethically.”
O’Keefe said several years have passed since the proceedings against Marshard, and many more have passed since the events that she was accused of took place. He said she’s done a “great job in the appellate division.” When weighing whether or not she could be useful in the lower courts, O’Keefe said, “I made the decision that yes, she certainly could.”
O’Keefe went on to say, “I don’t see any problem with her going into court on behalf of the commonwealth of Massachusetts.”
Marshard did not respond to a request for comment.