I-Team: Clerk Magistrate Not Working While Court Is In Session

By Kathy Curran, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Maura Hennigan takes a stroll around Jamaica Pond with her dog then hits the campaign trail. The problem? It’s the middle of the work day. Hennigan’s the clerk magistrate of the Suffolk County Criminal Court, she’s paid $121,000 a year and the I-Team found Hennigan not at work while court is in session. In fact one of the biggest trials of the year, the Mattapan quadruple murder trial, was before the Suffolk County Court and the clerk wasn’t anywhere near the courthouse.

It’s a pattern we see week after week. The I-Team tracked the clerk on several work days and our cameras caught her handing out bumper stickers and collecting signatures for her 2012 political run. In the afternoon Hennigan heads over to a local access TV studio to tape her weekly show. Court is still in session but the clerk never even bothers to show up.

We called the court each time we found Hennigan not at work to check to see if she took the day off but we were told she was in a meeting every time we called.

Hennigan’s already under investigation by the state for campaign finance issues. One employee told the I-Team, “I’m in the courthouse, I don’t see her that often.” He said Hennigan pulled court employees out of criminal sessions and had them stuffing envelopes with invitations to a fundraiser.

According to our sources it all happened in a courthouse conference room up on the 15th floor back in November. “They said there was a special project going on upstairs and they were needed for a special project. They were seen stuffing envelopes on the 15th floor, there were a couple of boxes of envelopes with a two-wheeled dolly,” the employee said.

Pam Wilmot heads up the watchdog group Common Cause. She said if the allegations are true, it’s illegal, “Absolutely outrageous and a complete violation of the law that prohibits the use of public resources for political purposes. We need to have a bright line between campaigns and government and clearly she’s crossed the line.”

We questioned Hennigan about her work habits, especially about not showing up to work on Tuesdays. Hennigan told us on one particular day she had a doctor’s appointment and that her mother is ill. She said half of her job is community outreach and that’s a commitment she made to her constituents.

The clerk magistrate is supposed be devoted to the job at hand during regular court hours but may participate in public service activities during that time.

She said the allegation that she doesn’t work on Tuesdays is not true. Hennigan said on one of the days we followed her she took the day off but once again when we called the court we were told she was tied up in meetings all day.

Pam Wilmot says this is a perfect example of why this kind of position should not be an elected position. “What you need is a good administrator and someone who is going to devote themselves full time to the job with the skills that are needed,” says Wilmot.

A court spokesperson tells us since Hennigan is elected it’s up to her to fulfill the requirements of the position. Hennigan also isn’t subject to trial court policies that regulate time off. Sixteen employees have resigned or retired from the clerk’s office since Maura Hennigan was elected in 2007.

Comments

One Comment

  1. daisymay says:

    Just another example of a crook playing on the tax payers dime , just right along with tim cahill . WOW you have to LOVE OUR CROOKED GOVERNMENT AS USUAL . As they say POLITICS AS USUAL NOTHING EVER CHANGES EH .

  2. fiddle maker says:

    Given that this is one of the most corrupt states in the country along with a totally corrupt legal system, this sort of behavior does not surprise me at all.

  3. BOB says:

    I-Team Keep up the good work. Keep exspsing these crooks.

  4. Richard Chaney says:

    Fire the biatch and put her in Jail for stealing from the taxpayers!

  5. Scanner Man says:

    Ahhhh…. the wonderful state of Mass. If your connected, your all set. If your just a normal Joe like the rest of us, then you just end up paying the bill for all these idiots. Imagine a world where people can get FIRED for this stuff…… ahhhh, Utopia!

  6. rich says:

    W.T.F. Anyone else would have been fired .She is like a bad dream that keep’s coming back. Fire her ass

  7. Rich says:

    She should be fired. how many people has she had fired or suspended over the year;s ? What goes around comes around

  8. justyouravgjoe says:

    Time for the AG to step up and do away with individuals like this one. Seems like she picks and chooses her battes. How long will it take for the AG to finally do something. Lets not sweep this one under the rug. I hope Maura is not a friend of Marttha.

    1. JCA says:

      BINGO ! Jokely is more likely than not, one her BFF’s ;)~

  9. Matt says:

    If you people had half a brain you would have seen that this position that she has is an elected one. Since I don’t live or work in Suffolk County it is none of my business.

  10. emom says:

    OMG,, THE EXCUSES THIS WITCH SPOKE OFF.. I mean she is allowed a day off,,, her mother was sick, waling the dog on state time… IN MEETINGS ALL DAY, RIGHT, with whom the boys at the state house, Talk about wasting our tax dollars on frivolous pieces of garbage… And we hear the governor, ( the one that shall be nameless) Is willing to hand over millions in funds to HELP THE CASH STRAPPED MBTA.. ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FREAKIN GOURD!!!!!!!!!!!!. And then the icing to the crumbling cake,,,,,, MILLIONS IN NEW LIGHTING SLATE FOR THE TUNNELS,,,,,,ALL BECAUSE THE COST OF DOING BUSINESS IN THIS DAMN STATE IS TO WILLFULLY OVER SPEND OUR TAX DOLLARS AND YET BURDEN THESE SAME TAX PAYERS MORE WITH CREATE RIDICULOUS FRIVIOULOUS NEW TAXES ALL TO PAY FOR THE SALARIES OF WASTEFULL USELESS, TAKE ADVANTAGE SO CALLED STATE EMPLOYEES THAT DO ABSOLUTLY NOTHING TO HELP THE PEOPLE OF THE COMMONWEALTH……… YEAH EVERYONES MOM IS SICK , WELL ALL HAVE A DOG TO WALK, AND WE ALL HAVE MEETINGS WE MUST ATTEND,,,,,,,,,,,BUT WE ALSO DO OUR JOBS……………….. Useless bag of waste space……………… FIRE HER, FIRE THEM ALL,, INCLUDING THE ONE THAT SHAL;L BE NAMELESS………………….THE GOVORNOR.

    1. JaniN says:

      @emom,

      I TOTALLY agree with you!

    2. ginny2 says:

      You go girl!

    3. Willow says:

      Now tell us how you really feel……LOL

  11. lucy says:

    It is about time that Hennigan was outted for who she really is, an anchor around the public’s neck.
    Her job is keeper of the records of the Court and not a community outreach organizer. Way to go Channel 4.. It is now time for the SJC to remove this sore.

    I would like to know who the fellow was that was with Hennigan on several days.
    Is he a staffer or a volunteer for Hennigan?

  12. Denise says:

    big town small town they all have thier corrupt players. and even after the FBI gets involved in some towns it still doesn’t make the news!! What is news these days?

  13. nobody's business says:

    When you lose 16 public employees in 5 years, someone’s bound to drop a dime, Maura. You’ve heard the old saying “don’t get mad; get even”. Well, someone just did.

  14. sean says:

    hopefully the AG will step in and get her relieved of her duties and get the state back some restitution

    1. Rob Cleary says:

      You mean Marsha Coakley? You should be writing jokes for Letterman, You’re funny!

      Marsha has used up all of her legal expertise and energy going after Brian Wallace and framing up poor Timmy Cahill. She is not Superman!

  15. DK says:

    these stories are great but are made better by followup from ‘BZ. Please do so….Thanks!!!

  16. ginny2 says:

    Just another day in MA., business as usual. And she’ll be e-elected by the sheeple of the state.

  17. Pat Benti says:

    Job well done by Kathy Curran and WBZ ITeam. Please stay on top of this story. Imagine 6 more years of this woman in office. I Was surprised to hear how many people have resigned since she took office. It says a lot about the person and the way she runs her department. NUFSED!!!!

  18. Pat Benti says:

    Great job Kathy Curran and WBZ I Team.

  19. Maria says:

    How does one manage to loose SIXTEEN employees during a time of economic crisis?! How bad could things have gotten for these employees to prefer to join the on going job hunt that millions of American’s are facing rather than keep the jobs they have?! If that fact alone doesn’t tell you Maura is doing something terribly wrong, I don’t know what will. EXPOSE THIS CROOK!

  20. And where oh where is our useless Attorney General? Why does it take newspapers like the Herald or TV stations Like WBZ to uncover all of the corruption in this State? Marsha Croakme is a huge part of the problem and needs to go!!

    1. BOB says:

      She probiably has her own scam going too!

  21. rpmcestmoi says:

    Maura is one of the last of the dinosaurs. And we thought they were already extinct!

  22. DanO says:

    This isn’t a story at all.

    Why not focus on the high salaried MBTA hacks earning big bucks while the rest of us have to pay higher fares or face reduced service.

    Elected officials should be allowed to be in their community, take a walk or lunch or be involved outside the office. Maura is running against one of former Speaker Sal DiMasi’s staff members by the name of Bobby Dello Russo a hack from the North End where Pat Benti lives, lol Talk about crooks

    1. firemanmark says:

      Check the LAW dummy.It is ILLEGAL to be doing political work or having employees do it for you while in the employ of the Commonwealth or any of it’s subsidiaries which includes all 351 cities and towns.If you are a city or state employee and you don’t know this then your supervisors are in violation of the law for not having given you,in writing,a copy of said law.Go back to drinking the Kool-Aid, chump!

    2. momo says:

      your a moron. bobby d never stole anything in his life and who cares where pat benti lives, hes a singer. what does that have to do with anything? maura should be allowed to walk her dog while we pay her?? and pass out bumper stickers for her campaign while we pay her ?? use the whole court house staff to stuff envelopes while we pay all of them? Is this what you are actually saying? dan o, i have to say you are a moron.

  23. DanO says:

    People resigned from Hennigan’s office because they either retired or didn’t want to have to do any work when Hennigan took office.

    1. notyouravgjoe says:

      Well, DanO, I guess this sits well with you that the clerk can do hatever she want and when she wants…. I don’t think she will get much sympathy from too many people who are paying the bills….. No story?????? I wonder if Maura is employing you, maybe your on the payroll so you would have time to write your notes… Good Job DanO.

  24. Jack says:

    She should be immediately terminated and ordered to pay back the tax payer funds she stole. And you wonder why there is such public distrust of elected officials.

    1. notyouravgjoe says:

      Your Right Jack

  25. Jack says:

    And Maura isn’t a hack? Grow up and smell the coffee. Her explanation was outrageous and then to top it off a “court spokesman” said “it’s up to her to manage the job”. All of these people should be terminated and if not, charges brought against them. If anyone votes for her reelection, then you deserve the Hack and the patronage system of no work with pay., Utterly Disgusting!

  26. PegBundy says:

    Get rid of her, make her ineligible to run for any public office in Mass forever and make her pay back the state for each day she did not work.

  27. Deval P says:

    Big deal I-Team…

    I spent the morning sucking a golfball through a garden hose until i turned plaid.

  28. Pat Benti says:

    Hey DanO, I think your comments about me and Mr. Dello Russo are uncalled for. You better have proof that I’m a “crook.” i don’t know who you are. I put my name out there not as a friend to Bob Dello Russo, but I just happened to catch this WBZ ITeam report and thought it was interesting. I’ve been in the music biz for over 40 years and made many friends by being an honest guy. Maybe you are from Maura’s office, but I don’t care. I want an apology! Thank you,

    1. DanO says:

      Well, Pat, maybe I will just have to sneak up on you while you are taking a nap. I could pop a brown bag and scare you so you make in your pants.

      You and bobby are real flunkies.

      yes I do work there

      1. EasterBunny says:

        If you really work there then tell everyone your real name “DanO” you have nothing to loose your in with all Maura’s special people, you know the ones that leave for several hours during the day for Special assignments or maybe you one of them that use special sign in sheet so you can leave and do her dirty work and still get paid, you should be proud to tell everyone who your boss is and that you support her…GOOD LUCK!

  29. jaygee says:

    I watched this last night and there isn’t a question as to what she is doing with most of her time at $121,000 per year. The word disgraceful cannot explain this story. Is it any wonder that most people have such little regard for public employees when some like Ms. Hennigan takes total advantage of being a political insider. The sad fact is that the voters will probably put her in office once again. One more terrific piece of investigative journalism for WBZ. I just hope she get’s some kind of punishment or at least make her wear an ankle bracelet so we know where she is.

  30. DanO says:

    Mr. Benti I never called you a crrok I was referring to the North End but just so you know I did not write the comment right below your last one there is someone else trying to get you and me going.

    1. Pat Benti says:

      Dan, TY, But how could someone make a comment with your name? I “never” get into anything that involves politics in public. I keep it to myself. I’m a music man and my job is to entertain people. I’d like to end it there.

  31. DanO says:

    notyouravgjoe

    Your spelling is horrible, lol. go back to elementary school you missed the day they taught spelling, lmao dim bulb

  32. DanO says:

    I guess all of you would rather have Sal DiMasis former Chief of Staff Bobby D, and Hennigan’s opponent as Clerk, lol

    1. notyouravgjoe says:

      DanO, This is not suppose to be personal, this is a comment to a story written by someone else. Oh by the way the bad spelling is called TYPO. See even you can learn something. Lets comment on the story, if you know Pat you can talk to him, but not here.

    2. notyouravgjoe says:

      it would be better than her.

  33. Jack says:

    DanO, I have no idea who Pat Benti is nor do I care. Take your personal battle with him elsewhere. This is about the Hack, Maura Hennigan We already know that DiMassi was a crook and I don’t know Bobby d and could careless.

    1. JohnC says:

      Does she mean Pat Benatar?

  34. therealtruth12 says:

    The elected clerk magistrates are no different than the governor, senators, representatives, DA’s, sheriffs or any elected official. District court clerks are held to a strick work schedule vacation time etc. The elected clerks do not receive sick, personal or vacation time. Judges get six to eight weeks of vacation. The pay stub of the elected clerks have zeros across the board. There is absolutely no requirement that elected clerks be in court during court hours. The press never mentions it. they are elected and they need to run for election. Of course they campaign during the day. Doesn’t the governor when he is up for reelection? Do congressmen only campaign at night? This is lazy reporting. Absolutely misinformed reporter.

    As for forcing employees to do campaign work during court hours…unexceptable. That is the story here, not her hours as an elected clerk of courts.

  35. Jack says:

    Now that’s just crap. If she gets paid, then she is supposed to work for that pay. So how can her “pay stub show zero’s across the the board”? Sounds like your a hack as well. She is supposed to work at least 40 hours in her job and she doesn’t, end of story. Ripping off the public and taxpayers.

    1. therealtruth12 says:

      The problem here Muggs is that you have no idea what you are talking about. Hennigan and the other Superior Court Clerk Magistrates are ELECTED!!!!!!!!!!!! Just like Governors, Sheriffs and DA’s etc.

      Most every elected Clerk in this state ran against many other candidates and were elected. District Court, Juvenile, Housing etc. clerks and all assistant clerks are appointed.

      For God sakes the whole point of my post is that they are elected.

      Facethefacts, it is a dog eat dog world out there. I know Hennigan is an idiot but did Dello Russo really think his opponent in the election would just give him a hug and let bygones be bygones? he said some pretty nasty stuff about her in their election. Trial Court should have transferred him immediately and permanently.

      In this economy not many people walk away from state jobs, pensions and benefits. Short of being beaten by a club, no would walk away from one of those jobs1

      1. EasterBunny says:

        Dod eat Dog……absolutly and she walks the DOG!!!

  36. therealtruth12 says:

    The media gets hung up on the judicial ethics rules pertaining to clerks and assistant clerks of courts. these rules do not pertain to elected Superior court Clerks. they only pertain to Superior Court Asistant Clerks, District Court level Clerks and there assistants.

    The best example of this is that under these standards clerks and assistant clerks, like judges are not to actively involve themselves in political activities. Dah…so an elected clerk within the party system is not allowed to partake in political activities?

    Under WBZ’s theory of the elected clerk’s hours, the Governor would have to be at the statehouse whenever it is open. Not being in court during a major murder trial? Assistant clerk’s run the sessions. What was hennigan supposed to do, sit in the courtroom and watch?

    I am not saying it is not a good gig, but she is elected. It takes a constitutional convention to get rid of the position, so isn’t everyone here barking up the wrong tree(s)?

    The elected clerk of courts just like the Governor has zero obligation to be anywhere from the day they get sworn in until they lose the election or swear in for another term after being reelected. Certainly if they did that they would not get reelected or maybe subject to a recall process by the voters.

    Does anyone know or care if Martha Coakley is in her office the whole time the Ashburton Office building is open? No she is the AG 24/7 everywhere she goes. She does not get vacation or sick time. It is what it is.

    You may not like it, but Hennigan is the Clerk of Courts 24/7 and can do as she pleases. If she is not doing a good job, then she will not be re-elected.

  37. yamstar1 says:

    Hello? AG Coakley, hello? Oh wait if you want political corruption adjudicated in the Comm. of Mass. you need to call Carmen Ortiz…

  38. Jack says:

    therealtruth12, your facts are convoluted and subjective. WBZ as well as I did some research and you are blowing out garbage. Zero obligation? You must be a Hack or a relative of one…………………Done with you, your just wrong!

  39. therealtruth12 says:

    No Jack it is the truth. Explain where I am wrong. The Governor (all elected officials) and the elected Clerks of Court run for the office under the party primary and general election process. They are required to take the oath of office and that is it.

    Compare the pay stubs of elected clerks (other elected officials) to non elected. It will print out the vacation, sick and personal time available each pay period for non elected personnel that is used and or accumulated. Do the elected office holders get lunch hour? Is there some document that spells it out for them?

    The pay stubs of elected clerks (all other elected officials) read 0, 0, 0 ,0 in each column. If an elected official takes an hour, 1/2 day or a day off it is not tabulated or tracked anywhere. They can keep track of it themselves, but there is no personnel person for them to report this to.

    How much time does an elected clerk have for vacation. Since judges get six to eight weeks depending on seniority, I would suggest that elected clerks should not be questioned unless they went over that. To me that would be abbusive, not technically wrong, but abussive.

    When elected officials leave office they do not receive any reimbursement for unused vacation and sick time like other state employees. They don’t have any.

    So Jack how does an elected official go away on vacation? If any elected official including clerks take their kids to Disney World for a week, this reporter could go up to them take a picture and report “Clerk in Disney World when Court is open for business!”

    Believe me I think Hennigan is an idiot, but I am mad about the employees stuffing envelopes. This other stuff is designed to just rile everyone up.

    It is also important to point out that the employees of the clerk’s office do not serve at the will of the clerk. Hennigan has hired one or two people since taking office. The people who have left have left due to retirement or for better positions.

    In the DA’s office and AG’s office they serve at the will of the elected official. If the elected clerk loses or leaves all their employee stay. The elected clerk in my county has hired three peopl in 11 years. He has fifteen retire or move on. i think his last hire was seven years ago.

    1. Kara says:

      You make some good points. Ultimately, Curran should have simply presented what is and is not legally permitted for Hennigan’s job. The story did appear inflammatory. Of course, it was obviously wrong to corral employees for her envelope stuffing party.

  40. web says:

    It does matter if she is not in your district, ultimately, all of MA residents pay taxes that go into the huge budget pool that is budgeted to different areas. We all pay her salary. If she is doing something illegal, she should be stopped. Period. Investigation Please!

  41. Kara says:

    This link explains the duties of the clerk magistrate. She has definitely committed a few violations. Curran should have simply spelled out the real instead of perceived issues.

    http://www.mass.gov/courts/sjc/rule-3-12.html

  42. EasterBunny says:

    Maura Hennigan is not only a Hack but she runs dirty campaigns, must run in the family her brother did and lost, uses her help for her own benefit on Court time(and continues to do it every day), refers to spending half of her time doing Community Outreach and that no longer exists, most of her time consists of walking her dog around Jamaica Pond and going to Dunkin Donuts, I forgot about doing her big TV show that she does while still using Court personel to escort her! The worst thing is she is an elected official YOU PEOPLE elected her!

  43. J. Fredrick Muggs says:

    I thought that the job of a clerk-magistrate was to keep the courthouse running smoothly? What has this role got to do with community outreach??

    this is just another do nothing job for those with friends in high places. Wasn’t one of the Bulger brothers a clerk-magistrate? Gee, I wonder how he got that job???

    1. therealtruth12 says:

      CANON 3. PERFORMANCE OF DUTIES

      A Clerk-Magistrate shall devote the entire time during normal court hours to the duties of his or her office, but may, according to established procedures, participate during that time in law-related educational and public service activities. An elected Clerk-Magistrate may participate during ordinary court hours in activities reasonably related to his or her duties as an elected Clerk-Magistrate. A Clerk-Magistrate shall not engage in the practice of law.

      “Any activities reasonably related to duties as ELECTED Clerk Magistrate” is the key to all of this. The elected aspect changes all of it from all the other clerks and assistant clerks. Since the elected Clerk must be reelected those activities are broadly interpreted. Just like a Congressman or Senator or Governor that means all the same constituent service, rubber chicken circuit, speaking obligations etc.

      1. notyouravgjoe says:

        Does this mean , walking the dog?

  44. facethefacts says:

    For the people who say that the 16 employees left because they retired or moved on to better positions is BULL.. I know for a fact they left because they could not work for Maura Hennigan or the incompetent staff that she appointed. Maura has been revengeful and vindictive to anyone that did not back her during her run for office. Bobby Dello Russo was one of the hardest working Assistant Clerk Magistrates for the Trial Court. Why don’t you ask Maura, since in the last year she would have him cover 2 – 3 sessions in a day. I don’t think Mr. Dello Russo would tell one of his Assistants not to help an Assistant Clerk with their session because they were running against him…again, I know for a fact that Maura Hennigan did.

    1. therealtruth12 says:

      Hennigan is an evil person. On that we agree, but every clerk’s office across the state is down 25-40% staffing in the last twelve years, look it up. Suffolk Superior Criminal is no different. If all these people left during Hennigan’s first sis year term she is currently serving wouldn’t her staffing levels be dramatically higher? They may have hated Hennigan, but they left because they could. i do not know one court employee who would give up their gig even if they were beaten every day with a club!

    2. EasterBunny says:

      Bravo!!! I think Kathy Curran should talk to the 16 employees that left and Im sure the truth will come out, truth be told they left because Maura and her special assistants pure evil and should be removed…..hopefully they will be gone and Bobby Dello Russo will be the Clerk Magistrate of Suffolk Superior Court. Thank you Kathy Curran for exposing this EVIL HACK!

  45. notyouravgjoe says:

    To the Hennigan people:

    Not to worry, I have been waiting for a follow-up from either the Globe or Herald or Channel 4, and nothing is there. We don’t need to argue the law when the story dies as it seems it has today. We now all have to live with it, because nothing more will be said, so Hennigan people you don’t have to post anymore comments to defend Hennigan, the story is dead. Good job Maura and Martha.

  46. facethefacts says:

    Let’s get back to the facts… Maura Hennigan is being investigated for doing something illegal; using state employees during working hours to help with her campaign. This is still going on even as of April 5th. Fact is, Maura met in an employees office with 2 clerical staff members and an Assistant Clerk, and was overheard saying, “That would be great for the campaign, so let’s go out and do it.” So even with everything that is going on, Maura Hennigan continues to defy the law. By the way therealtruth12, working for Maura Hennigan IS like getting beaten everyday. You just never know what weapon she or her assistants will use…

  47. above therest says:

    she don,t seem to have that killer look in her eyes. man when she is on the hunt see has that my way get it. well she still looked you down. she,s cold. and it was on the same day to see the repeat of the money in my bra.well we can,t kick her out ,but we can keep her out. do not vote for her.i can see her looking like i did nothing wrong.$120,000 if any one is on face book pass the word. and let,s keep her nose in the air. i bet she don,t pick up after her dog.o sorry she thinks her dog sh-ts ice cream 2

    1. notyouravgjoe says:

      All i can say is that this behavior is a shame.

  48. notyouravgjoe says:

    Still nothing from the Globe and Herald or Martha.. Are they upset that they got scooped?

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