Totten prosecutor: no vendetta

Yesterday I relayed some comments from Maria Cramer, the Globe reporter who chaired the trial board that recently expelled Dan Totten as head of the Boston Newspaper Guild, the paper's largest union. Cramer took vigorous issue with the notion that Totten's expulsion was payback for the way he handled negotiations with the New York Times Co. earlier this year.

A few minutes ago, I spoke with Sean Murphy, the Globe reporter who prosecuted Totten in the just-concluded union trial. He, too, insists that the payback charge is bogus--along with the notion that, because some of the parties involved in the trial supported earlier efforts to recall Totten as union head, he couldn't get a fair hearing.

"This was a prosecution, not a persecution," Murphy says. "Mr. Totten was a not the victim of a political vendetta. He was a victim of his own bad judgment. 

"I was known to be a 'No' vote"--i.e., on the contract concessions requested by the Times Co. and opposed by Totten--"on both contract proposals," Murphy continues. "I spoke in union halls in favor of supporting the negotiating committee, which was chaired by Mr. Totten. I declined to engage in the advancement of any recall effort; I didn't think that was the best choice. I attended a meeting where a recall was discussed, but I'd only been told about that meeting 5 minutes beforehand--because everyone understood that I wasn't a recall supporter. Mr. Totten was at that meeting. He knows I was the one that spoke against a recall, or at least said we should think before we act, and expressed great skepticism.  

"The [trial] process that we went through," adds Murphy, "was done exactly by the book. It was done for the benefit of the membership, to determine exactly what happened. And it was a group of jurors selected at random who made the final decision on guilt and punishment.... For whatever it's worth, I have no personal animosity toward Mr. Totten I was asked to do a job as prosecutor, and I agreed and did it. It was a transparent and plainly fair process." 

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