SALEM — Lawyers for the state will be back in front of the state’s highest court this week, this time trying to convince the court to find that the state’s whistleblower protection law does not apply in the case of the former sex offender board chairwoman ousted by then-Governor Deval Patrick over her handling of his brother-in-law’s case.
The hearing Wednesday before the Supreme Judicial Court stems from the long-running lawsuit brought by the former head of the Sex Offender Registry Board, who sued Patrick and the state in 2014 alleging defamation and violation of the whistleblower law. The SJC dismissed the defamation claim against Patrick in 2017.
The remaining whistleblower counts are still pending in Salem Superior Court. In January, 2020, a judge denied a request by the state to dismiss those remaining counts. The state, represented by the attorney general’s office, has appealed, leading to Wednesday’s hearing.
Saundra Edwards of Lawrence, a veteran sex crimes prosecutor, was chosen to head the Sex Offender Registry Board in 2007. It was located in Salem at the time.
Her lawyer says she walked into an agency beset by controversy over a hearing officer’s decision that Patrick’s brother-in-law, Bernard Sigh, did not have to register as a sex offender despite a 1993 spousal rape conviction in California.