BOSTON (AP) — Mary Beth Heffernan, the state’s outgoing secretary of public safety, was nominated by Gov. Deval Patrick on Friday to serve as a district court judge.

Heffernan has served in her current post since 2010, but was recently one of several cabinet secretaries to announce that they would not remain in the administration for the final two years of Patrick’s second term in office.

Heffernan will leave her current post on Jan. 11, according to the governor’s office. Patrick had previously named Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral to take over as the new public safety secretary.

Heffernan has been a lawyer in Massachusetts for more than 20 years and previously served as a prosecutor in the Middlesex District Attorney’s office.

Her final weeks in the cabinet post have been clouded by questions over her role in the 2007 hiring of Sheila Burgess as the state’s highway safety director. Burgess resigned in November amid revelations that her personal driving record included multiple accidents, traffic violations and license suspensions.

Documents released by the state in December showed Heffernan, who was an undersecretary at the time, had been one of two people who referred Burgess for the highway safety post in 2007. But it was unclear who actually made the decision to hire Burgess.

Both Patrick and Heffernan have stated in recent weeks that the hiring of Burgess was a mistake. Patrick has strongly praised Heffernan’s tenure and indicated that the controversy played no role in her departure from the administration.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.


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