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The Massachusetts Governor’s Council rejected Governor Deval Patrick’s nomination of Assistant U.S. Attorney Shelbey D. Wright to the Boston Municipal Court.

Council members noted that, among other things, they were troubled by Ms. Wright’s decisions to pursue forfeiture actions against properties belonging to innocent, grieving spouses:

“[Counselor Robert] Jubinville, of Milton, said he found Wright’s work on cases involving property forfeiture in drug cases “troubling.” He said in two separate cases, Wright as the federal prosecutor chose to pursue property forfeitures from innocent wives of drug suspects, despite knowing the women had no knowledge of the criminal activity.

In one case, the widow had lived in the house for 30 years, and there was no evidence that any drug money was used to purchase or pay for the house, according to Jubinville. Her husband, who was the subject of the federal charges, had committed suicide.

Jubinville said Wright acknowledged she had the discretion to drop the case after the husband’s death, but decided not to.

In another case, an innocent women’s son committed suicide while the government pursued taking the family home, he said.

“What’s troubling to me is the fact that in the two cases, and I asked her this, I said ‘What was the point of forfeiting the house after the husband committed suicide? You knew she had nothing to do with the crime. Doesn’t the government have enough houses? Don’t they have enough money?” Jubinville said.” Excerpted from Colleen Quinn and Michael Norton, Governor’s Council rejects another Patrick nominee for judge, State House News Service; Patriot Ledger News, 01 Aug. 2013.

Ms. Wright, a one-time president of Harvard Law School’s prestigious Harvard Defenders and former Chief of the DOJ’s Asset Forfeiture Unit in the Criminal Division, currently works in the office of controversial U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz.

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