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Romney appoints 4 to bench despite vow of no "lame duck" picks

BOSTON --Gov. Mitt Romney on Wednesday nominated four people to the bench, despite vowing at the beginning of November not to make any "lame duck" appointments.

Romney nominated Robert C. Cosgrove to the Superior Court, Michael A. Uhlarik to the District Court, Robert E. Powers as clerk magistrate of Barnstable District Court and Mark R. Jeffries as clerk magistrate to the Southeast Division of the Housing Court.

All four, if approved by the Gov.'s Council, would have lifetime appointments.

Romney's press office said he has now made 81 nominations over his four-year term, filling 469 of 473 positions.

The nominations, coming just 15 days before Romney leaves office, appear at odds with earlier pledges by Romney that he would not make any nominations after Nov. 8.

"I'm not planning on bringing to you a whole slate of lots of people to fill lots of position," Romney said according to minutes of a Nov. 1 meeting of the Gov.'s Council. "I anticipate being able to complete all nominees next Wednesday (Nov. 8)."

They are not the first appointments since Romney's self-imposed deadline.

On Nov. 23, he nominated three to the bench and on Nov. 29 he made one judicial nomination. On Nov. 8, the start of Romney's deadline, he nominated seven to the bench.

One of those nominated on Nov. 8 was former House Republican leader and failed GOP congressional candidate Edward Teague, nominated to be clerk magistrate in Falmouth. His nomination was approved.

"I never believed him when he first said it," said Mary-Ellen Manning, a member of the Gov.'s Council. "I didn't believe that this administration could resist the temptation of paying off favors when there were so many vacancies left to be filled."

Fehrnstrom defended Wednesday's appointments.

"We stopped accepting applications in November and only processed those that were already in the pipeline," he said in a statement.

Cosgrove, of Braintree, has worked in the Norfolk County District Attorneys Office for nearly 20 years and currently serves as chief of the appellate unit.

Uhlarik, of Newbury, has worked in the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office since 1993. He serves as chief of the Elders & Persons with Disabilities Unit.

Powers, of South Boston, served as an assistant district attorney for Suffolk, Plymouth and Norfolk County District Attorneys from 1991 to 1998 and is an assistant district attorney in Bristol County in New Bedford.

Jeffries, of North Dartmouth, has been an assistant clerk magistrate at the Southeast Housing Court in Fall River since 2000.

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