The first new Berkshire District Attorney in 14 years was sworn in Thursday afternoon in downtown Pittsfield.
Members of the Berkshire County law enforcement community gathered in Berkshire Superior Court Thursday afternoon for a changing of the guard. In the wake of David Capeless’s surprise departure as the county’s district attorney, his First Assistant Paul Caccaviello was immediately tapped by Republican Governor Charlie Baker to fill the position for the remainder of the term.
“It’s kind of interesting because David was the teacher and Paul was the student," said Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas Bowler, who served as the master of ceremonies at the swearing-in. He’s worked alongside Capeless and Caccaviello – his fellow Democrats – for the last 28 years.
“The unique trait that I’ve noticed about both Paul and David is their empathy, and being an advocate for victim, victims of crime. A lot of time victims of crimes are pushed aside, and these two gentlemen - Paul has that tendency. Full of empathy, has the character and the wit to really take care of those victims of crime,” Bowler said.
The courthouse was filled as Judge John Agostini swore in Caccaviello, the gallery filled with friends and family flanked by members of area police departments and the legal community.
Maria Caccaviello is Paul Caccaviello’s older sister. She’s preparing to help run his reelection campaign in the run-up to November’s election.
“We haven’t had our first meeting yet, but we’re gathering up lots of community support from people that want to help with Paul, getting the word out there about what he and the DA’s office is all about,” said Caccaviello.
Sheriff Bowler is already endorsing the new DA.
“Longtime friend, longtime colleague, and I’ll continue to support with him, without any hesitation or reservation," Bowler said.
Some have said the appointment gives Caccaviello an unfair advantage in November’s election. He was announced as Capeless’ successor during the March 1st press conference when Capeless told the media he was retiring.
“The only head start I have is my 28 years of service to the county,” responded Caccaviello.
David Capeless offered his explanation for the transition.
“He is going to run just like anybody else. The difference for Paul is that he doesn’t have to leave his job in order to run for district attorney. Because if I had stayed on, and he was first assistant, he would not be able to run and run a campaign and raise money, because that would be in violation of our campaign laws. Other people would be able to keep their jobs and go on and do it, and that would be a disadvantage for Paul. So actually, this evens things out,” Capeless said.
Caccaviello will now take a position that he’s worked just beneath for the past four District Attorneys.
“Well, the first priority’s obviously assessing the policies that we have and seeing if there’s anything that needs to be adjusted. A transition’s a great opportunity to do that. So that will be the first priority that I take. As I indicated though in some of my comments, obviously we have an opiates epidemic – which is not just particular to this county, it’s across the nation, and that’s something we’ll continue to be vigilant about in addressing that issue, whether it be proactively or in the court room,” Caccaviello said.
When asked to identify his philosophy as DA, Caccaviello identified some guiding values.
“I’m a great believer in looking at each case with an eye towards compassion and consequence, and you’ve got to use both of those principals when you assess a case," said Caccaviello. "And that’s a philosophy that I’ve always followed and it’s something that I’m going to be continuing to follow as I take the reins here.”