Bennett to return to private law practice
Date: 1/4/2011Jan. 5, 2011
By G. Michael Dobbs
SPRINGFIELD Outgoing Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett is returning, after his 20-year tenure as a prosecutor, to private law practice, but he won't be defending people accused of crimes.
Bennett said he would concentrate on other specialties during a press conference in the offices of Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury & Murphy on Dec. 28.
His close working relationship with law enforcement officials would prevent him from practicing criminal law, he explained. He did not want to "tear down" the work of police officers with whom he worked in a court of law.
Instead, Bennett said with a smile, he would do "whatever Mr. Doherty tells me."
Doherty said that members of his firm were happy and excited that Bennett will join them.
Bennett said he would finish the current case he is prosecuting as a special prosecutor under the new District Attorney Mark Mastroianni. Bennett is the prosecutor in the manslaughter charge against former Pelham Police Chief Edward Fleury, who ran the gun show at which an eight-year-old boy shot himself with an Uzi automatic weapon.
He believes that trial will be over by the second week of January and at that time, he would join Doherty, Wallace, Pillsbury & Murphy.
Bennett declined to offer any advice for the new district attorney at the press conference, but explained that any advice would be given privately. He called Mastroianni "a good guy and a good friend." Mastroianni worked under Bennett as an assistant district attorney before he started his private practice.
Speaking about his career as district attorney, Bennett said he was proud of "bringing a high caliber of people to the office" and that he "developed a real bond of trust with local, state and federal police."
Bennett was one of the few district attorneys in the Commonwealth who still tried cases. He admitted that much of the job is administrative and working with community members, rather than time in a courtroom.
Trying a case is a task to which a prosecutor "must devote his full attention," Bennett explained. He thought, however, that it was good for his staff to see that he did the same job they did, he added.
Recalling significant moments as district attorney, he said his very first case stood out. A murder case involving two victims, Bennett said the large families met with him and told him, "Make sure you get the guy."
"They wanted justice," he said.
The other standout case was the murder trial of Eddie Morales, who shot Holyoke Police Officer John DiNapoli in 1999.
"That was a big case for our office," Bennett said.
Bennett said that while what kind of law he will practice is yet to be determined, he would like to continue working with victims, "people who have suffered."