Press Releases


June 28, 2018

Patalano Announces Public Integrity Plan

Proposal includes focus on training and accountability to communities


ASHLAND -- Today, candidate for Middlesex District Attorney Donna Patalano announced her plan to review and investigate allegations of abuses of power by public officials, police use of force, and officer-involved shootings through the creation of a Professional Integrity & Ethics Bureau.

“In April, a young man was brutally arrested in Cambridge. The video was shared widely on social media, and is deeply unsettling. This was not an isolated incident, yet the public has no way to know what process is being undertaken to investigate incidents like these,” said Patalano. “We deserve to know that investigations into use of force are thorough and independent. Without a clear process made available to both law enforcement partners and the public, we can’t have meaningful accountability.”

The Professional Integrity & Ethics Bureau will consist of a Public Integrity Unit, a Conviction Integrity Unit, and a Training Unit, and will be led by a Chief of Professional Integrity & Ethics. The Chief will be responsible for managing the units and establishing a Community Accountability Board to include community leaders in the conversation about reform and provide a forum for feedback. The Bureau will include attorneys with experience as defense counsel to ensure that cases are being reviewed with a well-rounded perspective.

The Public Integrity Unit will review and investigate allegations of abuses of power, police use of force, and officer-involved shootings. The Unit will follow a written protocol to provide both the public and law enforcement partners with transparency as to process, procedure, and timelines.

“As public officials entrusted with law enforcement, we must hold ourselves to a higher standard,” Patalano said. “We have a responsibility to protect both the public and constitutional rights, and the Professional Integrity & Ethics Bureau will do just that.

Patalano created the state’s first Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU) during her time as Chief of Professional Integrity & Ethics in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. The Middlesex CIU will accept requests for review from civil rights advocacy organizations, defense attorneys, police, attorneys & staff within the office, the trial court, and individuals petitioning for review (usually through a pro se application), and will make the protocol for reviewing claims will be available on the Middlesex DA website. The website will include a portal for submitting innocence claims and requests for review.  

Patalano is challenging incumbent Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan in the September 4th primary. In her most recent position as the Chief of Professional Integrity & Ethics at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Patalano developed and implemented training programs for all Assistant District Attorneys in Suffolk. She has been counsel of record for more than 120 Appeals Court cases and appeared more than 20 times in front of the Supreme Judicial Court.




May 9, 2018

Patalano Announces Immigration Counsel Proposal

ICE arrests at courthouses demand action


CAMBRIDGE -- Donna Patalano, Democratic candidate for Middlesex District Attorney, announced today her plan to create an Immigration Counsel in the office to protect the rights of immigrants.

Recent federal immigration enforcement activity at Massachusetts’ courthouses is resulting in a chilling effect, preventing victims from seeking help from police and courts and deterring witnesses from appearing and testifying in criminal cases.  The pursuit of justice is further frustrated by defendants who are federally seized and detained, thus unavailable to appear in state court. Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrests people on the steps of, or even inside, courthouses.  

“We are a community of immigrants. We must be intentional and proactive in Middlesex County to treat every member of our community with dignity and empathy, particularly in the face of cruel and callous treatment of immigrants by the President and federal government,” Patalano explained.  “Aggressive and excessive ICE policies target immigrants, creating fear and tearing families apart. Victims are afraid to seek relief and protection from the courts, and witnesses are reluctant to testify for fear of being picked up by ICE. Immigrants who have cases in Middlesex County courts may default on judge’s orders, violate probation, or fail to receive court-ordered drug and mental health services because they fear being placed in, or have already been placed, in ICE custody.”

In response to the climate of hostility created by federal immigration enforcement, the position of Immigration Counsel will be dedicated to four primary duties:

  1. Building stronger relationships with immigrant communities, including direct collaboration and community engagement.

  2. Providing assistance to victims who meet the requirements for two types of federal immigration relief, each of which allows non-citizens who are victims of a crime to remain in the country legally for a period of time.  The Immigration Counsel will facilitate the completion of T Nonimmigrant Status and U Nonimmigrant Status applications, commonly referred to as a T Visa and U Visa, respectively. A T Visa provides immigration protection to a victim of trafficking; a U Visa provides immigration protection to a victim who has suffered mental or physical abuse due to a crime.  

  3. Training all staff on immigration issues, to advise prosecutors who make plea offers and sentencing recommendations on cases of non-citizen defendants, in an effort to avoid disproportionate collateral consequences such as deportation and to maintain and enhance public safety.

  4. Working to find case resolutions that will not lead to excessive immigration penalties, particularly for low-level offenders such as those with minor drug convictions.  Those persons who work with Immigration Counsel will face the same criminal consequence as any defendant without necessarily having the adverse immigration consequence that accompanies some of these charges. Consideration of the defendant’s immigration status will occur on a case-by-case basis (including on post-conviction pleadings) and will be in accordance with federal regulations.  The Middlesex Immigration Counsel will ensure that defendants’ counsel are fully informed of their clients rights and how guilty pleas or verdicts will affect immigration status.

“When people trust that they can come to law enforcement as a witness or a victim without fear that they or their friends or family will get arrested and deported for doing so, we can better fight crime and successfully prosecute cases,” Patalano said.

The Immigration Counsel will also work to ensure conviction integrity for those cases involving defendants who could potentially face collateral consequences flowing from guilty pleas.  The proposed position reflects a directive of the Supreme Judicial Court, which in a 2017 decision held that ICE detainers do not provide local police authority to arrest, and there is no other law that authorizes such an arrest based on immigration status.  Patalano will also advocate for state legislation that will provide the return of any bail money if the only reason a person has defaulted was because of an ICE detainer. Under current law, any bail posted would be forfeited and lost, even if posted just minutes before ICE arrests the defendant.

In Massachusetts, 1 in 6 residents is foreign-born (1.1 million people), or 16% percent of the population.  Additionally, 1 in 7 residents are U.S.-born but have at least one foreign-born parent. Nearly half of our state’s immigrants and refugees (48%) have arrived since 2000 – and 1 in 5 since 2010. More than half (52%) are naturalized U.S. citizens.

In her most recent position as the Chief of Professional Ethics and Integrity at the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Patalano oversaw the development and implementation of training programs for all Assistant District Attorneys. She has been counsel of record for more than 120 Appeals Court cases and appeared more than 20 times in front of the Supreme Judicial Court. Patalano is challenging incumbent Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan in the September 4th primary.




May 9, 2018

Donna Patalano on the Ballot in Middlesex County

Will Challenge Incumbent DA in September 4 Primary


WINCHESTER -- Today, Donna Patalano announced that she has reached the number of certified signatures needed to appear on the ballot for the Democratic primary on September 4. Patalano is running against the incumbent District Attorney, Marian Ryan.

Patalano turned in 1,256 certified signatures from across Middlesex County, putting Patalano well over the threshold needed to appear on the ballot.

“The number of signatures we turned in is a testament to my incredible volunteers, who are out every day engaging their neighbors and friends about the importance of the District Attorney,” said Patalano. “From Ashby to Arlington and Framingham to Lowell, residents are eager to have conversations about my vision for safety paired with social justice in the Middlesex County District Attorney’s office.”  

Patalano was most recently the Chief of Professional Ethics & Integrity in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. While there, she established the state’s first Conviction Integrity Unit. Patalano also served as the most recent past chair of the Board of Bar Overseers, the independent body that oversees ethics complaints against and discipline of Massachusetts’ 60,000 attorneys. Last week, former Middlesex District Attorney and state Attorney General Scott Harshbarger endorsed Patalano’s campaign to be the next Middlesex District Attorney.

Patalano and her family live in Winchester.




May 7, 2018

Harshbarger Endorses Patalano for DA

Former Middlesex DA and AG cites ethics & integrity in statement of support

WINCHESTER -- Today, former Middlesex District Attorney and Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger announced his support for Donna Patalano in the Democratic Primary.

"Donna's record as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney demonstrates her commitment to fair and equal justice, the rule of law, and the independent, professional, and ethical exercise of prosecutorial discretion," said Harshbarger. "This race is about the quality of justice in Middlesex County. Donna Patalano is the leader we need in the District Attorney's Office, and I am proud to stand with her."

Harshbarger served two terms as the District Attorney in Middlesex County before being elected Attorney General. As District Attorney, Harshbarger received an award from the American Bar Association in recognition of his dedication to improving juvenile justice. He was the first AG to use the state’s consumer protection statute, Chapter 93A, to regulate handguns, and is also known for his leadership of the anti-tobacco lawsuits in the 1990’s.

“General Harshbarger is a titan of the legal community, and I am honored to have his support,” Patalano said. “His work to improve outcomes for young people and pioneer creative solutions to reduce crime and violence are inspirational, and I look forward to working with him to restore Middlesex’s role as a national leader.”

Harshbarger’s support highlights the growing momentum behind Patalano’s campaign. In April, Democracy for America (DFA) named Patalano as one of their ten Criminal Justice Reform Champions across the country. DFA is a member-driven, people-powered progressive PAC with more than one million members nationwide committed to taking on structural racism, income inequality, and money in politics.

Somerville Aldermen-At-Large Stephanie Hirsch and Wil Mbah, Ward 3 Alderman Ben Ewen-Campen, Ward 4 Alderman Jesse Clingan, and Ward 5 Alderman Mark Niedergang also recently announced their support for Patalano, joining Wakefield Town Councillor Mehreen Butt and Waltham City Councillor Robert G. Logan as local leaders in support of Patalano’s campaign.

Patalano left her position as a well-respected assistant DA in the office of Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office to challenge incumbent Marian Ryan in the September 4, 2018 Democratic primary. As past chair of the Board of Bar Overseers and a former defense attorney, Patalano recognizes that the most effective way to reform the criminal justice system is from the inside, by being a DA who leads the conversation and achieves real justice for victims and all of the members of the Middlesex community.



April 2, 2018

Patalano Announces Plan for New Bureau to Serve Young Adults

Innovative proposal will improve opportunity and prioritize rehabilitation


WINCHESTER — Today, Democratic candidate for District Attorney Donna Patalano announced her plan to draw on the latest medical and psychological research to improve outcomes for young adults involved in the criminal justice system.

The proposed Juvenile & Emerging Adult Bureau will bring together social workers, victim witness advocates, and assistant district attorneys in specialized units. Lawyers and staff will be trained to understand and utilize evidence that brain development continues through adolescence and into early adulthood.

“The criminal justice bill released from committee last week unfortunately does not include raising the age of juvenile court jurisdiction,” Patalano said. “Creating this Bureau will give us the chance to make a real difference for young adults, their families, and our communities by providing developmentally appropriate interventions to young adults. This work must be a priority.”

The Juvenile & Emerging Adult Bureau will include four components that maximize the ability to rehabilitate young people under the age of 25. In addition to prioritizing the use of diversion and restorative justice, the Bureau will collect data at every point of a young person’s interaction with the criminal justice system to ensure equity and fairness in prosecutions, and allow communities to hold the office accountable to those goals.

“This proposal is a much-needed innovation supported by the best research in brain science and adolescent and young adult development." said Dr. Robert Kinscherff, a forensic psychologist on the faculty of William James College and the Center for Law, Brain and Behavior at Massachusetts General Hospital. "Prioritizing diversion and restorative justice for young adults presents a great opportunity to reduce criminal recidivism and promote community safety."

Priorities for the new bureau will include:

  • Data Collection: We cannot correct inequity in the system if we cannot identify the source. The Bureau will collect data to ensure equity, establish a new norm for decision-making informed by data, and welcome accountability.

  • Supporting Victims: As a key component of initial case screening, Bureau staff will assess whether victims are eligible for assistance from the Victim Witness Fund. The Bureau will also work with victims to ensure that their needs are met throughout investigation and prosecution or diversion of the case.

  • Improving Outcomes: Recidivism is more likely to be reduced when interventions are evidence-based and outcomes are measured. Bureau staff will work with researchers and experts in the field to identify programs that work to put offenders on course for productive lives, and will assess impact on a yearly basis to determine the 1, 3, and 5 year rates of recidivism.

  • Effective Screening: Case screening is an early opportunity to disrupt the cycle of recidivism. Bureau screenings will follow a validated rubric to reduce the impact of implicit bias. Screenings will determine whether a prosecution or diversion is the most appropriate next step.

  • Community Collaboration: To ensure success, the Bureau will further develop and expand partnerships with community-based organizations. Dedicated staff will work with partners to write for grants and dedicate resources to evidence-based programs.

“Too many young people in Middlesex County are being incarcerated. A young person’s prospects to obtain an education, a job, or housing are severely limited by a criminal record and a history of incarceration,” said Patalano. “Because the criminal justice system disproportionately impacts minority communities, the incarceration of young people hits these communities hardest. As District Attorney, I will prioritize this work to ensure that the young adult in Lowell is receiving the same fair treatment as the one in Weston.”

A former defense attorney and past chair of the Board of Bar Overseers, Patalano left her most recent position as the Chief of Professional  Integrity & Ethics in the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office in November. Patalano and her husband live in Winchester, where they raised their three children.