Who will be district attorney?

Rob Galibois and Dan Higgins compete for the position.

Democrat Rob Galibois and Republican Dan Higgins are competing for the Cape and Islands District Attorney's seat being vacated by Michael O'Keefe.

Updated Oct. 25

The next district attorney for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket will be one of two people who’ve previously worked in the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office. Rob Galibois, the Democratic candidate, was an assistant district attorney under former Cape and Islands District Attorney Phil Rollins. Dan Higgins, the Republican candidate, was an assistant district attorney for outgoing Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe until his recent departure from O’Keefe’s office to campaign. 

Galibois is 52. He grew up in Millis, and lives in Barnstable. He got his undergraduate degree at the University of Massachusetts, and his law degree at the Massachusetts School of Law. His favorite ice cream is peppermint stick. Higgins is 39. He grew up in Cranford, N.J., and Newbury (and summered in Dennis), and lives in West Barnstable. He got his undergraduate degree at Boston College and his law degree at Suffolk University. His favorite ice cream is coffee. Both candidates are married with children. Neither have served in the armed forces or in a police department, and both are licensed to carry firearms. Higgins cited as heroes of his in the world of law enforcement his parents, both of whom he says were career FBI agents. Galibois cited Nelson Mandela and Trooper Toni Schuck of the Florida Highway Patrol. Higgins’ recommended read to a friend would be “In the Heart of the Sea.” Galibois’ would be “Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty.”

The Times asked both candidates a number of detailed questions by email. Here’s what they said:


Other than drug crimes/drug abuse and an acute housing crisis for municipal employees, what do you think is the most pressing law enforcement matter on the Vineyard?

Galibois: “Our campaigning on Martha’s Vineyard has revealed an indisputable fact: There is a glaring disconnect between the District Attorney’s Office and police departments across Martha’s Vineyard. This divide arrives as the direct result of the District Attorney’s Office’s failure to both build a close bond with its law enforcement partners on Martha’s Vineyard and remain accessible at all times.” 

Higgins: “I think we could have better communication with and among the police and our office. I will work toward achieving that.” 


ADAs have very limited office space at the Dukes County courthouse, and no real space to confer with victims on sensitive subjects like rape and domestic violence. As DA, what would you do to improve that situation?

Higgins: “I would ask our legislative delegation to secure an earmark for some office space on the Vineyard near the courthouse. I would also explore a multi-use of that space with other appropriate agencies.”

Galibois: “As district attorney I will open an independent office outside the confines of the aging courthouse, where we can interview victims and witnesses in a confidential manner and provide a professional work environment for our prosecutors.”


Vineyard police departments have expressed a lack of connectivity with the DA’s office and a lack of responsiveness to questions and concerns. How would you improve relations with the Vineyard’s police departments?

Galibois: “I fully agree with the premise of this question. I would assign a particular prosecutor (as opposed to a rotation) who would need to commit to me as the district attorney that the prosecutor will always be accessible to the needs of the seven departments on Martha’s Vineyard (including State Police). Additionally, I would hire a Martha’s Vineyard resident to be the victim/witness advocate on Martha’s Vineyard cases — as opposed to the current practice of revolving victim/witness assistants from the mainland.”

Higgins: “I think we could have better communication with and among the police and our office. I will work toward achieving that.” 


What is the number of manslaughter or murder cases you’ve either prosecuted or provided a defense in? 

Higgins: “I am the only candidate to have prosecuted a murder case; I have never defended a murder case. I have prosectuted two murder cases to conviction in Superior Court. I have handled the arraignment, motions, and initial victim meetings for murder cases in district court over the past seven years. I have also prosecuted and supervised numerous motor vehicle homicide cases over the past 13 years.”

Galibois: “I have been the lead lawyer in 15 homicides cases ranging from first-degree murder to manslaughter.” 


How much emphasis would your office place on prosecuting nonviolent crimes like fraud, forgery, embezzlement, scams, and so-called white-collar crimes? 

Galibois: “Our office would vigorously prosecute those who prey upon our most vulnerable citizens. Seniors often are targets for the types of crimes mentioned here.”

Higgins: “I would want all of the crimes which we prosecute to be emphatically prosecuted. Fraudulent practices and scams can sometimes be multi-jurisdictional. In those cases, we will collaborate with the Attorney General’s Office to make sure all involved parties are prosecuted.”


Do you anticipate you could do a better job than the outgoing DA in investigating and prosecuting police officer criminal misconduct?

Higgins: “We can always do a better job at anything.”

Galibois: “Yes.”


Several alleged assaults on Vineyard police officers or on State Police officers on the Vineyard have occurred over the past year. What would you say to the Vineyard’s law enforcement community regarding your position on holding people who assault police officers accountable?

Galibois: “Our office would demand accountability from those who attack our law enforcement officers. As a community, we ask police officers to patrol our communities to keep us safe. Police officers need to know that the District Attorney’s Office has their back when they are either assaulted or put in harm’s way.”

Higgins: “Police need our support when they are assaulted, particularly in the line of duty. Police are the protectors of the community. An assault on an officer is an assault on our civilized society. Police should know I will take their safety very seriously, and prosecute those who would do officers harm, including recommending incarceration.”


What crimes would you like to see penalties increased for?

Higgins: “It’s not so much that penalties have to be increased, it’s more that the sentences should be at the higher end of what is already allowed by statute. Each crime carries a statutory range of sentencing. Oftentimes we make a recommendation, and the judge goes below it.”

Galibois: “Assault crimes on children, seniors, and law enforcement officers.”


What crimes would you like to see penalties decreased for?

Galibois: “The best way to address this question is to offer that as district attorney our office enjoys discretion not to pursue charges where we find the conduct was an aberration, and there remains a very strong likelihood that we will never see this particular defendant again in the criminal justice system.” 

Higgins: “If the prosecutor doesn’t like the range of incarceration in a given criminal offense, he or she can recommend probation.”


Do you view the Jan. 6 criminal investigations and prosecutions as proceeding in a lawful manner? Is there anything you find amiss in the work done to hold folks accountable for the events of that day?

Higgins: “I don’t know enough about what federal prosecutors are doing to make a judgment about the Jan. 6th prosecutions. Having said that, it seems that nothing was done by the federal prosecutors for the arson, looting, and rioting all though the summer of 2020. That does not send the public a very good message.” 

Galibois: “Yes, I do believe the proceedings are lawful. As for whether I find anything amiss, life has taught me to be patient. As applied here, it appears the Department of Justice is proceeding with a grand jury investigation. I await the outcome.”


Updated to correct a response that a candidate opted to repeat. 


  1. When asked about the prosecutions of January 6th violent insurrectionists, Higgins replies:
    “I don’t know enough about what federal prosecutors are doing to make a judgment about the Jan. 6th prosecutions. Having said that, it seems that nothing was done by the federal prosecutors for the arson, looting and rioting all though the summer of 2020. That does not send the public a very good message.”

    This is another case of deflection in an attempt to downplay the seriousness of an armed insurrection against the nation’s Capitol. If he doesn’t know about those prosecutions, it’s because he hasn’t taken the time to read the publicly available information related to them.

    Higgins is either technologically impaired or is lying, because a simple internet search reveals an AP article that reviewed court cases stemming from the 2020 riots. This review revealed “more than 300 federal cases stemming from the protests sparked by George Floyd’s death last year shows that dozens of people charged have been convicted of serious crimes and sent to prison.” Additionally, “more than 120 defendants across the United States have pleaded guilty or were convicted at trial of federal crimes including rioting, arson and conspiracy. More than 70 defendants who’ve been sentenced so far have gotten an average of about 27 months behind bars. At least 10 received prison terms of five years or more.” https://apnews.com/article/records-rebut-claims-jan-6-rioters-55adf4d46aff57b91af2fdd3345dace8

    Higgins’s regurgitation of this right-wing rhetoric is dangerous, inflammatory, and demonstrates that he is more interested in scoring political points with hate groups on the Cape than in defending the truth and the rule of law. Higgins is not who we need running the Cape & Islands DA office.

  2. I found these answers very informative and thank the Times for asking the questions. Some answers Higgins did better, others Galibois. However, the response about the January 6 events is telling, for Higgins appears not to have followed the detailed reporting in numerous outlets, including those he may follow, like Fox or Washington Examiner, etc. as to the federal prosecutions that have been occurring. His lack of awareness as a professional in the field of law with respect to an event surrounding the certification of the US presidency makes clear that he has not taken his candidacy seriously. If he has, he is not making clear what he believes.

  3. What is even more troubling than Mr. Higgins’ lack of awareness regarding the prosecution of the insurrectionists is the photograph (widely available on the internet) of a beaming Mr. Higgins with his arm around Howie Carr who is wearing a “Let’s Go Brandon” t-shirt. It seems highly inappropriate that the would-be chief law enforcement officer for the Cape and Islands would openly embrace such disrespect for the duly elected President of the United States. Perhaps it would have been appropriate for the reporter to ask if Mr. Higgins is an election denier.

  4. Informative, even if a little light, overview of the candidates’ backgrounds and positions.

    Despite one seeming more (troublingly) likely to continue in the current DA’s (goose)steps, no C&I DA candidate gets my vote unless they publicly pledge to PUBLISH A CURRENT AND COMPLETE BRADY LIST ONLINE, as the Middlesex DA does. Sine Qua Non.

    • Hi Brian.
      This is Rob Galibois. I have said in publicly – including at our largest public debate at the Cape Cod Community College which is available online through a quick google search – that I would maintain a Brady List and make it public in the same manner in which many other DA’s Offices make it public.

  5. Higgins needs to go back to law school if he cannot understand the difference between a federal offense (Jan 6 event) and the the other incidents he mentions. No one who lacks the capacity to tell one from the other is qualified to be a DA.
    I mean, this is the kind of thing most educated folks can grasp even if they never went to law school.

  6. Higgins lost my vote with his answer to the January 6 question. The DA is supposed to uphold the rule of law. Comparing the BLM protests to the January 6 insurrection on the Capitol demonstrates a lack of understanding and poor critical thinking skills at best. At worst Higgins is downplaying the planned attack on our democracy and the participation of the former President. I don’t want a Trump cult member for our Cape and Islands DA.

  7. Mr. Higgins’ answer to the last question is sorely lacking. Rather than take the layup and say those who would storm our Capitol, carrying the symbols of white supremacy, need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, he deflects.

  8. If you look at what Democrat DA’s are doing around the country, it’s pretty clear if you want safer communities which way to vote.

    • Are you claiming that isn’t what you were implying? If not explain exactly what point you’re were trying to make? At least own it instead of claiming that isn’t what you meant when called out.

    • “Democrat DA’s”. The implication is very clear as it’s a common extremist right-wing talking point on fascist talk radio & tv right now.

  9. It’s worth noting that the outgoing DA, Mr. O’Keefe, was so inattentive to the Vineyard that he didn’t recognize Sheriff Ogden when they ran into each other on Beacon Hill. Mr. Galibois has been over here often in recent months, making connections with law enforcement, at the courthouse, and among the social service providers whose work often intersects with that of the police and the court system. I’m not telling anyone who to vote for, but this matters to me, and yes, I’m wearing a ROB GALIBOIS button.

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