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Briefings: Inching Towards Federal Judgment…

US Capitol Building (via wikipedia)

The United States Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled its hearing for the nomination of Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni for federal district court.  Next Tuesday, Mastroianni will appear in Washington for his date with destiny to discuss his nomination with members of the committee. If all goes well, the D.A.’s nomination will be forwarded to the full Senate and await being brought up by Senate Majority Harry Reid for a vote.

The Judiciary Committee will meet at 9:00AM on February 11 to consider several nominations including that of another district court judge, an appeals court judge and an assistant attorney general.  President Barack Obama nominated Mastroianni to the Springfield-based seat on the US District Court for Massachusetts last year after a search process organized by Senator Elizabeth Warren.  He will replace Judge Michael Ponsor, a Clinton appointee, who assumed senior status upon reaching age 70 thus creating the vacancy.

Mastroianni’s confirmation process began long before the scheduling of his hearing on Capitol Hill.  As a nominee, he filled out a comprehensive Judiciary Committee questionnaire that required, among other things, documentation of Mastroianni’s public remarks, appearance in media, employment and a list of major cases on which he worked.  That packet also revealed that as part of the selection process, Mastroianni traveled to the Washington and met with the White House Counsel’s office to discuss his potential nomination.

Hampden County District Attorney Mark Mastroianni (via

If confirmed, Mastroianni will hold the office for life barring retirement, resignation or impeachment. Since his nomination, however, the race to succeed him has been rather muted.  Only in the last month and a half have candidates even begun to file for the race.  Several candidates and potential candidate for the office have been keeping a low profile until Mastroianni gets the green light from the US Senate.

Nevertheless, several candidates are in play.  Shawn Allyn, a Feeding Hills attorney with a practice in Holyoke, has been raising money since December and making the rounds in Valley political circles.  He declined in December to make a formal announcement until Mastroianni’s confirmation.  Attorney Hal Etkin announced his campaign recently, but only today did his campaign appear on the website of the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance.  Etkin has began making the political rounds including this week’s reelection kickoff for Longmeadow School Committee Chair Mike Clark.

Mary McNally, a deputy of Mastroianni’s, who was mistakenly omitted in Friday’s report on the D.A.’s race, said she would run for district attorney and lobby Gov. Deval Patrick for an interim appointment to the post after her boss is confirmed. Brett Vottero, who unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for District Attorney in 2010, is said to be looking at the race as well.

Suzanne Seguin (via Facebook/Seguin campaign)

The district attorney’s race is not the only open county race in 2014.  Registrar of Probate Thomas Moriarty retired at the end of 2012 with two years left on his term.  Suzanne Seguin, an employee of the registrar’s office, was appointed by Patrick at Moriarty’s suggestion to fill out the term.  She later announced her intention to seek a full term after rumor got out about Senate Gale Candaras’ interest.  Since then, Candaras did announce for Registrar of Probate.

Today, Sequin’s paperwork, dated this past Tuesday, appeared on OCPF’s website.  Sequin filed as an independent, avoiding a direct confrontation with Candaras in September, who may yet face a challenge from within her party.  Her campaign chairman is listed as none other than her former boss, Thomas Moriarty.