Attorney Judith Knight again will seek to become Berkshire District Attorney

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PITTSFIELD — The field of candidates vying to be the county's next top prosecutor has expanded to three.

Attorney Judith Knight on Tuesday said she had acquired enough certified signatures to be put on the ballot for the Sept. 4 Democratic primary election for Berkshire District Attorney.

Knight will join attorney Andrea Harrington, who announced her bid in March and, presumably, recently appointed DA Paul Caccaviello, who has taken out election papers but as of Wednesday afternoon had yet to formally announce his run.

This will be Knight's second run against a sitting DA in a primary bid. The previous time was in 2006, when she ran against David F. Capeless, who retired in March.

Knight considered running again in 2010 but declined, she said, in order to be able to spend more time with her ailing mother.

She considered it again in 2014, but about that same time, Capeless successfully had prosecuted two of three triple homicide trials and was preparing to take the third to trial, which would have been about the same time as a primary election.

"I thought it's going to be hard to get people's attention on some of the other systemic issues during this time," and she declined to pursue a run for the seat, she said.

Knight described criminal justice as her passion and said her work as a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney gives her a good perspective on the justice system.

"I understand both sides of the street," she said.

Knight spoke highly of the recently passed state criminal justice reform bill, noting that it addresses some of the issues she ran on in 2006.

She said she favors alternative sentencing for nonviolent offenders, especially young and first-time offenders.

"People, especially young people who find themselves caught up in the system — either for drug addiction or some other stupid move that they've done — if there isn't violence involved, they will be better off, I think, in an alternative sentence," she said.

Knight suggested that those sentences could include community service along with supervised probation instead of incarceration.

Apart from that, Knight said she would want to see the DA's office take on a larger role in preventive measures in order to try and keep people out of the system in the first place.

To that end, she said she is in favor of allocating money, seized in situations like large-scale drug operations and drug-trafficking cases, toward the construction of a youth community center in Pittsfield, and for increased availability of beds in treatment and rehabilitation facilities.

She also praised the crime bill's provision requiring police departments to undergo racial bias training and would want to have the DA's staff go through the same training.

Knight said she is hosting two upcoming meet-and-greet events; the first from 2 to 4 p.m. Thursday at Dottie's Coffee Lounge on North Street in Pittsfield, and from 5 to 7 p.m. May 23 at the Purple Pub on Spring Street in Williamstown.

According to her resume, Knight has been in private practice in Great Barrington since 2006, after having worked for two other law firms from 1998 to 2006.

She was an adjunct professor at Western New England School of Law from 1999 to 2005, served as an assistant DA in the Middlesex DA's office from 1988 to 1993, and worked in the Denver branch of the Colorado Public Defender's Office from 1987 to 1988.

She received her law degree from Washington and Lee University School of Law in Virginia in 1987.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@berkshireeagle.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.


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