Meet the DA
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan
Before being appointed in April of 2013, Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan had more than three decades of experience as an assistant district attorney, prosecuting the state’s most violent felons, fighting for victims, and creating innovative crime prevention initiatives. In selecting Ryan to fill the role of DA, Governor Deval Patrick highlighted Ryan’s “experience, rigor, tenacity, integrity and compassion.” Ryan is responsible for the prosecution of approximately 35,000 cases a year in the diverse 54 cities and towns of Middlesex County.
Ryan comes to the position with a unique perspective that has provided her with a deep and broad understanding about law enforcement, victimization, and the judicial system. In 1980, Ryan was a young assistant district attorney, just starting her career in the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office (MDAO), when she was the victim of a vicious assault and a witness to the murder of her then-boyfriend. Through this experience, Ryan learned first-hand about the impact and significance of a criminal prosecution. Ryan gained insight into the importance of an exhaustive and unassailable investigation, strong and supportive victim advocacy, a fair trial, and a just and incontrovertible verdict. The experience strengthened Ryan’s resolve as she developed into a strong, empathetic and judicious prosecutor.
Prior to being named District Attorney, Ryan served as the MDAO’s General Counsel, where she created the county-wide Workplace Safety and Violence Prevention Program. Ryan drew upon the Middlesex County’s rich and varied resources in academia, scientific research and medical facilities, to formulate strategies, make threat assessments, and address and prevent potentially volatile situations. The initiative gives guidance to public and private businesses, as well as schools, colleges and universities. Ryan also organized the MDAO’s first Workplace Safety Conference, attended by over 100 business owners, CEO’s, law enforcement officers, medical personnel, educators and administrators.
Ryan headed the MDAO’s Hinton Lab Crisis Response team, which she created in the wake of former forensic chemist Annie Dookhan’s criminal conduct that called into question over 9,000 Middlesex County drug samples. Ryan formulated a strategy and system for reviewing thousands of narcotics-related convictions and pending cases. She coordinated an office-wide plan to ensure that defendants had not been subjected to unfair or corrupt convictions. Ryan worked with defense attorneys, police chiefs, judges and magistrates to establish priorities and protocol and to address serious public safety concerns.
Ryan has served as Chief of the MDAO’s Elder and Disabled Unit, where she prosecuted a myriad of crimes involving physical and financial abuse of the most vulnerable victims. In this role, Ryan collaborated with business and community leaders to conduct risk assessments and develop prevention plans for elders and disabled citizens. Now as DA, Ryan is developing an education and training program, similar to her workplace safety initiative, to bring together businesses, hospitals, housing providers and community leaders to educate and promote a safe and secure environment for our aging population.
Ryan has been involved in domestic violence prevention and prosecution for over three decades. She has conducted trainings for prosecutors, law enforcement officers and service providers. Ryan has been an active participant in Cut it Out, a program designed to educate hair stylists on how to recognize signs of domestic violence in their clients. She has served in the MDAO Child Abuse Unit and has been a member of the Shaken Baby Task Force.
Ryan has been a constant presence in Middlesex County public and private schools, where she lectures and leads workshops to raise awareness of the dangers of prescription drug abuse, teen dating violence, anti-bullying, and distracted driving. Ryan is a leader in crime prevention and pretrial diversion programs aimed at preventing young offenders from becoming involved in the adult criminal justice system. She has been a frequent contributor to the non-profit Middlesex Partnerships for Youth, Inc. which fosters initiatives to increase student safety, health and learning. Ryan also has extensive involvement working with the Middlesex County’s 26 college and universities. Ryan led a bi-annual college consortium for educators, administrators and campus police, focused on campus safety and security, and Title IX compliance.
Ryan has significant courtroom experience and has prosecuted many of Middlesex County’s most complex, challenging and violent cases. She is a skilled and practiced litigator, having successfully brought hundreds of felony cases to trial, including dozens of first-degree murders. Ryan is also a talented appellate attorney, having briefed and argued more than 40 cases in the Massachusetts Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court.
This year, Ryan prosecuted four defendants in connection with the brazen daytime masked armed robbery and hostage taking at Musto Jewelers, a Woburn business, where an off-duty Woburn Police officer was shot and gravely injured during a violent gunfight. Ryan was involved in the investigation, indictment and convictions of all four violent perpetrators. Ryan demonstrated her hands-on leadership, appearing in court and bringing this work-place violence related case to a resolution, even after being appointed the District Attorney.
In 2007, Ryan secured a first degree murder conviction in the brutal stabbing of a Lowell woman who was murdered by a co-worker. The victim’s body was discovered by her then-eleven year old daughter, who returned home from school to find her mother lying in a pool of blood on the living room floor. The case had remained unsolved for more than 20 years. After the trial, Ryan was commended for her unwavering commitment in the pursuit for justice in this workplace violence-related case.
Ryan began her career prosecuting sexual assault cases, including the 1983 case of former Beverly attorney Barry Gerstein, who had been terrorizing women across the state. Ryan was part of a tri-county task force. She secured convictions against this dangerous felon for a string of armed home invasions and sexual assaults in Newton, Billerica and Weston. Gerstein received a lengthy state prison sentence.
Ryan has significant teaching experience as an adjunct professor at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. She is currently on the faculty of Lasell College in Newton, where she teaches courses in Constitutional Law and the American Legal System. She has previously taught at Emmanuel College and Wentworth Institute. Ryan has served as an Instructor at Harvard Law School’s Trial Advocacy Workshop and has mentored younger lawyers and law students through her volunteer work at the Women’s Bar Foundation. She has also served on the faculty of numerous professional and community boards, focused on training practicing lawyers, including the National Association of District Attorneys, the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, and Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education.
Ryan has received a number of awards and peer recognition for her trial skills and community involvement. The Middlesex County Bar Association honored her with their Lifetime Achievement Award. She is also a recipient of the Boston College Law School’s David Nelson Public Service Award.
Ryan, a life-long resident of Middlesex County, grew up in Somerville, and is a summa cum laude graduate of Emmanuel College and a cum laude graduate of Boston College Law School. She lives in Belmont with her husband Michael, an economist. They have two children.