In letter, defense attorney accused of threatening Northampton police officer

  • Dana Goldblatt, right, the lawyer for Eric Matlock, left, questions a witness at trial in Northampton District Court Sept. 26, 2018. FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 2/20/2019 5:35:29 PM

NORTHAMPTON – A letter from First Assistant District Attorney Steven Gagne to Judge Maureen Walsh expressing concerns over the conduct of attorney Dana Goldblatt has raised a question about Goldblatt’s participation in cases involving the Northampton Police Department.

In a letter dated Feb. 5, Gagne states that he is writing Judge Walsh to make her aware of a “troubling incident” and to ask that she take “whatever steps you deem appropriate to address it.”

The letter goes on to say that, on Jan. 29, Goldblatt was in court representing Eric Matlock on several cases in which he was arrested by the NPD. According to Gagne, before her client’s cases were called in the courtroom, Goldblatt sounded “agitated” and “frustrated” in a conversation with the session clerk about Matlock’s most recent arrest and said she either “wanted to kill” or would “like to kill” the officer who arrested Matlock, Andrew Kohl.

Goldblatt denied making the alleged threats against Kohl. “That did not happen,” Goldblatt told the Gazette.

She also said she didn’t know how people could have gotten the impression she said what she is alleged to have said.

“I don’t remember having a conversation about being angry,” Goldblatt said.

Although Gagne says the alleged comment was uttered loudly enough to be heard by two court officers and an assistant district attorney, a footnote at the bottom of the letter says that the session clerk did not remember hearing the comment.  

Gagne adds that while the alleged comment “may not quite meet the legal elements of a threat to commit a crime”  it is “very likely” a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. 

“This statement also calls into question whether Attorney Goldblatt should be disqualified from handling cases involving charges brought by the Northampton Police Department, or at a minimum, cases in which Officer Kohl is a witness,” writes Gagne.

Earlier in the letter, Gagne characterizes Goldblatt as having a “self-proclaimed dislike of the Northampton Police Department,” citing as evidence her description of police officers as “violence workers” at a Northampton City Council meeting. He also says that Goldblatt has repeatedly accused the NPD of harassing Matlock and arresting him on unfounded charges.

Matlock, a homeless Northampton man, was represented by Goldblatt in a trial last year on charges that originated from an incident in which he was arrested while protesting on the steps of City Hall. Matlock was acquitted of all charges in that trial. 

Gagne concludes his letter by requesting that Walsh give the alleged incident “the serious attention and consideration it deserves.”

Gagne copied Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper, Northampton District Court Clerk Magistrate Darren Alston, and Hampshire County Courthouse Chief Court Officer Franklyn Torres. Goldblatt was not included in the communication, nor was she informed of it by the district attorney’s office.

Gagne declined to comment on why he hadn’t reached out to Goldblatt, telling the Gazette: “Why I felt it was important to send the letter is spelled out in the letter.”

Goldblatt said that she believes the letter to be “an attempted blacklist.”

“I think it was an attempt by the district attorney’s office to intimidate people who criticize the police,” Goldblatt said.

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.




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