Outgoing District Attorney Daniel F. Conley administered the oath of office this afternoon to his former chief trial counsel, John P. Pappas, who was appointed as Suffolk County’s 15th district attorney by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker earlier this week.
At an emotional ceremony at his downtown office, Conley recalled the day he first walked into office after his own gubernatorial appointment in 2002. “I knew how the DA’s office worked,” he said. “I’d been a prosecutor for nine years, working in the district courts, the Juvenile Unit, and then Superior Court trial teams. I had some experience in government from my time on the City Council. But I’d never been a DA before, and I knew I was going to need a great team. And I’ve had one – for 16 years, seven months, one week, and one day.”
Conley praised the work of Suffolk prosecutors, victim advocates, investigators, and support staff during that time and urged them to continue a tradition of innovation and excellence that make them standard-bearers among the nation’s prosecutors. “When I walk out this evening, I won’t be district attorney,” he said. “I’ll be one of almost 800,000 Suffolk County residents depending on you to carry this important mission forward. I won’t be in the dugout with you, but I’ll be rooting from the stands. And I’ll no longer be your boss, but I’ll always be your friend.”
Conley stepped down today after nearly 35 years in public service – first as a prosecutor, then as a city councilor, and finally as the chief law enforcement officer for Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop. His last official act was to administer the oath of office to his successor. Pappas was joined by his wife and two children.
Pappas, the son of Greek immigrants who earned his law degree at night while working during the day, spoke briefly of his early years as a prosecutor and recalled waiting at a subway station to take the Orange Line into work, wondering if he was really ready for the job. Over the next 24 years, however, the young assistant district attorney worked his way up from district court assignments to the very highest levels of the office under two district attorneys – Conley and his predecessor, Ralph C. Martin II.
“Hard work and integrity will get you everywhere in this office,” Pappas told a room full of young lawyers, old friends, and family members. “You won’t be judged on your wins and losses in this office. I can tell you that from experience. Honesty. Integrity. Fairness. Compassion. These are the things that matter most here.”