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Regional News

Berkshire County DA's General Counsel Resigns After Dispute Over Releasing Documents

A courthouse in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Berkshire District Attorney's Office
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A top lawyer in the Berkshire County District Attorney's office resigned this week after a dispute involving the release of public documents.

The Berkshire Eagle requested copies of emails between the DA's office and Bard College at Simon's Rock concerning a student's allegations that she was the victim of a racially-motivated assault.

Jeanne Kempthorne, the district attorney's general counsel, said DA Andrea Harrington told her not to release the emails.

"I was peremptorily told that we would not provide them and it was not grounded in any legal reasoning. It was just by fiat," said Kempthorne.

Kempthorne, who was also the DA's records access officer, said there was no legal reason to withhold the emails. So she sent them — appropriately redacted, she said — to the newspaper last Friday.

By Monday, Kempthorne had decided to resign.

It wasn't just about this one incident. Kempthorne said employees who had been part of Harrington's political campaign had the DA's ear in a way the legal staff did not.

Through a spokesperson, Harrington's office denied any wrongdoing, and said it does not comment on personnel matters.

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