Nominee for Pittsfield judgeship coasts in council interview

Mark Pasquariello, who was nominated for a judgeship on the Pittsfield District Court, listened as Berkshire County First Assistant District Attorney Paul Caccaviello (right) praised his work ethic and temperament before the Governor's Council on Wednesday. [Photo: Andy Metzger/SHNS]

BOSTON (STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE) – An Adams attorney whose passion for sports morphed into an interest in law and his rural community received a favorable reception from the eight-member panel that vets Gov. Charlie Baker’s judicial nominees on Wednesday.

“I really think you’re an ideal district court nominee,” Jennie Caissie, an Oxford Republican and member of the Governor’s Council, told Mark Pasquariello, who was nominated for a judgeship on the Pittsfield District Court.

Pasquariello also heard praise from Councilors Robert Jubinville, a Milton Democrat, and Christopher Iannella, a Boston Democrat, during his interview.

Those who have known the 54-year-old through friendship or the courtrooms of western Massachusetts described him as even-keeled, hard-working and fair.

“I found his balance to be quite unusual. He had a very balanced approach to his work as an assistant district attorney,” said Northern Berkshire District Court Clerk Magistrate Timothy Morey, who was in private practice when Pasquariello was a state prosecutor.

Joseph Colonna, an attorney who went to law school with Pasquariello and said he knows the nominee as well as he knows anyone, described Pasquariello as possessing “probably the strongest work ethic of anyone I know,” and said he would “bring a sense of independence with regard to his decision-making.”

Pasquariello was born in Paterson, N.J. – the scene of a 1966 murder made famous by the Bob Dylan song “Hurricane” – and growing up he said he had a strong interest in sports and a knack for math and science.

“Sports was more important to me at the time than education,” said Pasquariello, who played varsity soccer and received an engineering degree from Vanderbilt University, according to his resume. Pasquariello told the council about “character-building” jobs he held, cleaning grease from bakery ovens, driving a fish delivery truck, and cleaning office buildings in New York City. He took a year off to “hone my skiing and carpentry skills in Colorado,” before studying law at Vermont Law School.

The judicial nominee remains interested in ice hockey, telemark skiing, mountain biking and woodworking, according to his resume. He has also been on the zoning board and conservation commission in his town of Windsor, and was on the boards of the Berkshire Dance Theater and a homeless shelter in Adams, according to a questionnaire he filled out for the Governor’s Council.

“We’ve set down very strong roots in the rural community that we live in,” Pasquariello said.

Pasquariello found legal work throughout northern New England before settling down in western Massachusetts.

Pasquariello worked for federal prosecutors in Vermont, clerked for federal Judge Shane Devine in New Hampshire, and clerked for a county Superior Court judge in Bangor, Maine, before becoming a state prosecutor in Berkshire County in August 1990, prosecuting a variety of cases. In the mid-1990s, Pasquariello clerked for federal Judge Frank Freedman, in Springfield, and then joined the firm Grinnell Dubendorf & Smith before setting out with his own law practice based in Adams in 1997

The nominee’s practice is 75 percent criminal and 25 percent probate, and he appears in the North Adams District Court about two to three days per week, he wrote in his questionnaire.

As a judge, Pasquariello said he would take a “very cautious approach” toward issuing restraining orders, because they are such a powerful legal implement. Under questioning by Caissie, a gun rights proponent, Pasquariello said personal bias can play a role in police chiefs’ decisions on whether to grant someone a license to carry a firearm.

“It’s human nature. People get to know one another,” Pasquariello said.

While proclaiming the Second Amendment was “alive and well,” Pasquariello also said, “The states have the right to regulate, as we all know, who gets to possess a firearm and for what purpose they get to possess a firearm.”