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DA asks state's highest court to order judge to let her drop charges against some anti-white-supremacy protesters

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins has asked a Supreme Judicial Court justice to make a Boston Municipal Court judge accept her office's decision not to prosecute several people arrested during and after Saturday's march of the bigots.

Yesterday, Judge Richard Sinnott refused to accept prosecutors' filings to drop charges against protesters who were charged with only disorderly conduct and, in some cases, resisting arrest. Prosecutors said they would prosecute protesters charged with assault and battery on police officers, possession of a dangerous weapon and starting fights.

In a statement, Rollins said Sinnott compounded what she called a legal error - judges cannot tell prosecutors who to prosecute under the state constituion, she says - by ordering a defense attorney thrown in the court lockup for several hours for protesting Sinnott's refusal to recognize the prosecution requests, known as a nolle prosequi filing.

The actions of Judge Richard Sinnott are unprecedented and outrageous. His insistence on arraigning individuals when my office has used its discretion to decline a case is an unconstitutional abuse of his power and serves neither the interests of justice nor public safety. The power to pursue prosecution falls exclusively on the executive branch, not the judiciary. The judge overstepped his authority here, and only an action of our state's highest court can correct this injustice. My petition is a call for order to be returned to our courts, to ensure the fair administration of justice, and to restore the public's trust in the integrity of our legal system. The people of Suffolk County elected me to do exactly what I am doing.

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Comments

Can District Attorney's tell police they cannot arrest someone for committing a crime?

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They can decline to prosecute the cases.

DAs typically use something called nolle prosequi filings to drop charges. It's neither unique nor even all that uncommon. Rollins's predecessor, Dan Conley, did it all the time.

Just last fall, Conley "nolle prossed" a guy police had charged with the murder of a Codman Square gas station after evidence showed he didn't do it.

In terms of protests, Conley's office did the same exact thing ALL THE FRICKIN' TIME with protesters (like with the people arrested blocking construction of a gas pipeline in West Roxbury).

Two main differences between Conley and Rollins.

Conley would typically ask that the cases be continued without a finding for a few months. If the protesters stayed out of trouble in that time, then the charges would be dropped. In this case, Rollins asked right up front to drop the charges.

The other difference? I'll leave it to the reader to ponder the difference between an old-guard Irish-Catholic man as DA and a black woman as DA, especially one who vowed to shake things up even before she took office (and even though her predecessor was declining to prosecute many of the same minor crimes as her).

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What does race of the DA have to do with anything? Why did you bring that up?

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Why do you think?

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Reason to support her stupidity.

In defending the First Amendment. Hokay. And remember, and I'm going to say this again: She is NOT trying to dismiss cases against people charged with violent offenses.

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Stupid would be tying up the courts & using public money to pursue the counter-protesters whose activity is protected by the 1st Amendment.

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Cmon dude don't be an idiot. These people were protesting a white supremacist march. You're being willfully naive if you think this whole thing ISN'T about racists.

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Uh, because those "stately" white male judges who we hold in such high esteem. Oh yeah, most of them are racist too. Many I'm sure, unconsciously so - that's the state of most of us white people I think. But these days, the consciously hateful racists are especially emboldened to come right out and act it. So there you go. More questions?

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Citations please

Police may make arrests to "calm" the tension of a crowd or may arrest everyone until you can determine who actually was behaving badly. Crowds are difficult to manage and they have to use their resources wisely. Getting arrested doesn't mean you committed a crime. Even getting charged with a crime doesn't mean you are guilty. The prosecutor trying to manage their case load will go after the worst of the offenders and let some go that they determine are not worth their time trying to prosecute. One isn't telling the other what to do, they are different steps in the process.

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I assume you don't know what a DA does? the DA is the prosecution here. They decide whether or not to take up the case. That's their call.

In this case charging people protesting white supremacists with disorderly conduct is an absolute waste of time and taxpayer dollars. They're still pressing assault charges on any protestor arrested for that.

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No. The police report to the Chief (cities and towns) or the Superintendent (State Police). The DA is a county official who is not in the chain of command. In fact, if the DA told an officer not to make an arrest, there'd be potential grounds to arrest her for interfering with a police officer and witness intimidation, a felony. The better question is, what happens when the DA refuses to prosecute after an arrest?

Massachusetts is one of the small number of states that allow private citizens — without the backing of police or prosecutors — to ask court officials to issue criminal complaints. -- The Boston Globe, December 16, 2018 (on an unrelated case)

Even if Rollins declines to prosecute, Massachusetts allows all citizens to bring criminal charges before the court. A police officer never ceases to be a citizen. In fact, a police Sergeant or Lieutenant often serves as the "police prosecutor" on criminal cases not involving the DA. It appears Rollins struck a face-saving deal to prosecute the most violent left-wing agitators and BPPA will declare victory with a strong message sent. Mayor Marty (if still in office) ) would likely pressure Commissioner Gross to prohibit BPD from embarrassing Rolllins in the future but Gross has no say over the union officials. They are protected by strict federal and state laws. My prediction is that at some point, the BPPA union president starts bringing charges where warranted and the union retains a top notch ex-prosecutor to do the work Rollins refuses to do. Or else Marty offers the patrolmen a 25% raise to keep quiet.

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they can resign from the force, waive their pensions, and waste their own time.

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The current district attorney has never done or requested any such thing.

Since it got lost in a see of a hundred comments here it goes again:

The judge in this case is a Republican hack.

The judge Richard Sinnott is a Republican hack. He and his wife were appointed by Charlie Baker to the same court. They donate to Republicans. Sinnott's father was the last censor in the city of Boston. So, it's no surprise Dick wouldn't be lenient on the people protesting the invasion of Boston by Trump-loving bigots.

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So u ok with police being assaulted and getting no punishment?

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The DA only wants to drop charges against the people who were arrested just for disturbing the peace. Prosecutors ARE continuing the cases against people charged with assault and battery on a police officer, possession of a dangerous weapon and affray (starting a fight, basically).

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When/where were police assaulted on Saturday? Got specifics? Out of how many arrests?

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is among, if not THE, most bullshit charge police use against the citizenry. If a cop is speaking to you and grabs your arm, and you yank it away with "a look" on your face, you just assaulted him. If 3 cops tackle you and you try to push yourself up off the pavement to keep the skin on your face, and a cop falls backwards, you just assaulted a police officer. If they are macing you and you flail your arms and accidentally scrape your fingers against their bicep: ASSAULT.
If someone actually attacked a cop and beat and punched one, then I say, throw the book at them, because that is the standard of assault everyone else in the population is subject to. However my guess is the "assault charges" filed from this incident are 95% total bullshit.
If someone has links to pictures of BPD cops with swollen faces and open cuts or some such, I'd love to see those.

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What’s does that make Rollins?

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At least she was elected - and by a pretty considerable margin.

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Yeah, the Republicans have a real stranglehold on the Commonwealth. Put down the blunt.

He was appointed by Baker, his wife was not.

To get nolle prosequi proper paperwork is required. There are no reports as to whether the DA is going through the process properly

It's the DA's office and her prosecutors. They drop charges all the time. I would assume they know the process and do it. It hasn't been reported that DA Rollins' office hasn't been doing this properly. I would also assume the judge would have had more to say about any improper processes.

In general, I err on the side of believing the person more accountable and transparent, until proven otherwise. The DA is elected and has filed a suit with the SJC. A defense attorney was willing to be locked up citing the relevant statute the prosecutor used to drop charges against her client. So let's see what the SJC says. But I'm going to guess Rollins' office did it right.

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Welcome to the upside down....where prosecutors play the role of defense attorney for violent protesters who have been arrested for various crimes including assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, etc.

A DA going over the head of a municipal judge for choosing to charge people who have been legally ARRESTED.

Serious question, do any of these dirtbag protestors need defense attorneys? Why not let the DAs handle their release. I mean why not? The DA is their biggest advocate.

Sad.

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First, the cases against people charged with violence are continuing - we're talking about people charged with disturbing the peace here, not the people charged with A&B on a police officer, etc.

Second, apologies if I wasn't clear enough here and elsewhere, but dropping charges is something DAs do all the time. Even Dan Conley did it - and even in at least one murder case.

Using your logic, it would be OK for somebody to spend the rest of their life in prison because police arrested him, even if subsequent evidence showed he was innocent. The justice system may not be perfect, but it does have some safeguards to protect people who are wrongly accused - whether maliciously or through simple mistake. In the present case, the DA feels the people who were arrested solely for disturbing the peace were exercising their First Amendment rights (again, just to stress the point you seem to want to ignore, just for people who were charged with disturbing the peace, not the more serious, violent crimes).

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Oh where to begin...

First, awesome job name calling because someone disagrees with you. 'Willfully Ignorant", cute.

Second, disorderly conduct is still a charge usually punishable by a fine and probation. Your analogy of "spending their life in jail" is just silly. These protesters were part of a mob who don't know how to follow directions ie. the parade is over, go home. And when they commit "disorderly conduct" and "resist arrest", they go to jail. See, that show it works. And if a judge wants to move forward then so be it - he is the the judge. The DA (and her ADAs are not judges) it seems simple to most.

And before you lose your mind about Dan Connolly (and try to make some racial comparison) - I already know he (and other DAs) often decide to drop charges - nolle pros.

I don't have an issue with that - but I also don't have an issue if the judge sees fit to hold them accountable. "wrongfully accused"? of what. Disorderly conduct is still an arrest-able offense. Play silly games, win silly prizes.

Here is how it could have played out: Person attends parade in Boston to protest from some suburb, person protests, person feels empowered, Boston police tell person to disperse, person listens to police, person returns to boring suburb, end of day.

But instead: person decided to mix it up with Boston Police and found out that this isn't Portland, person got arrested, DA tried to play the role of defense attorney, and Judge did their job, end of day.

"the DA feels the people who were arrested solely for disturbing the peace were exercising their First Amendment rights"....now read that again but replace DA with Defense Attorney.

Good Lord.

If you want to ignore several hundred years of Massachusetts jurisprudence like Judge Sinnott, go right ahead. At least you won't be throwing officers of the court into handcuffs, I suppose.

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you sound like the bostoner in florida hurricane guy

actually pointed out *how* you're an ignorant dumbass. That's called an argument. Now if I called you an ignorant dumbass, that would be just an insult. (It is my opinion, though you may have a brain and simply be wearing partisan blinders. In these discussions, I think the difference hardly matters: you're clearly talking through your hat.)

What is a municipal court, and who do its judges report to?

Would cases be handled more professionally at a court run at the county or state level?

All courts in Massachusetts are part of the same state judicial system.

Outside Boston, the lowest level of criminal/civil courts are called "district" courts. The issue in Boston is it's one district, but it's large enough to require several courts. Technically, the Boston Municipal Court that everybody's been referring to the past couple of days to is named something like Boston Municipal Court, central division - it's the court that handles cases from downtown, Chinatown, the North End, the South End, etc. (as opposed to, say, Dorchester Municipal Court, which handles cases from Dorchester and Mattapan). But everybody just calls it Boston Municipal Court, or BMC, for short.

All judges in the state are nominated by the governor and then voted on by the governor's council, a normally obscure - but elected - body that dates to attempts by colonists to reign in the governor appointed by the king (they also vote on parole applications and have to sign the documents that let the state pay its bills).

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Ok, thanks for the explanation.

So it's not as bad as village courts in NYS, which are often run by people with zero legal training who got appointed by a friend, and are known for some really awful decisions and behavior.

But I'm still surprised at how many tiny district courts there are around here, which still get to do serious stuff like criminal trials. Why isn't it handled by the county courthouse?

Yes, each county has a superior court, but those are for more serious crimes, things for which you might get indicted by a grand jury, felonies rather than misdemeanors (with the caveat that all arraignments after an arrest are done in district court, even for murder, but once the person is indicted, his or her case is moved to superior court).

Our system of district/superior/appellate isn't really different from how other states do things, except perhaps for the names (like, in New York, the equivalent of one of our superior courts would be a supreme court, the equivalent of our SJC the Court of Appeals). Plus, as you noted, we don't have teeny-tiny little village courts with part-time justices.

As for the number of courts, I'd argue that's a plus: We have some pretty big counties (relatively speaking, obviously, we're not Texas or some square state); the more district courts you have, the shorter the distance people with court dates - or who require court services (parole or even victim/witness assistance) might have to travel.

- Error of Law
- Lack of Jurisdiction
- Arbitrary and Capricious
- Abuse of Discretion

The SJC will reverse on at least 1 of these grounds.

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I am so confused over this current if you just show situation. Most my confusion is coming from the fact I am not educated around this judicial conflict.

Personally I am very conflicted about this current conflict between the in the DA particular judge, it's making me very uneasy about the judicial process.

This site does an impressive job of making the defendants and their lawyers look like the victims in this case.

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That’s why I read from a variety of sources: Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and yes, even turtleboy sports.

Adam is a good reporter but clearly biased. He didn’t cover the Rachael Rollins a few months back about the Charlestown assault in which she admitted she was citing false information.

Read from several sources and form YOUR own opinion. It’s no wonder the biggest growing political party is Independents. Because Saturday’s rally was run by a bunch of homophonic, Trump loving assholes. And it brought out the disgusting antifa who clearly came to fight the police.

This site does an impressive job of making the defendants and their lawyers look like the victims in this case.

If a cop ever arrests you for exercising your First Amendment rights, you'll probably feel that you were the victim too.

multiple times I asked why I was arrested, he said ‘for calling me a pig.’" Even if the cop was telling the truth, it's not a crime.

'MURICA! BELCH!

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The guy who said that was held for 90 days and is a known violent criminal. Not exactly who you want to be putting on a pedestal.

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The First Amendment gives you the right to call cops names. It's not like that hasn't come up before, and been ruled on.

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Did you see his arrest? You’re willing to take his word over it over the police?

Have you seen his record? I kinda think he’s the kind of piece of shit who’d lie about things like this.

Nor do I know what he was charged with.

I was referring specifically to his alleged comment about his right to call the cops names. It will be shocking to some folks who are posting here, but it is not against the law to yell at cops. If you're interfering with their work (like, hypothetically, trying to prevent an arrest) or actively attacking them (as is alleged with some of the protesters), that's another thing. But simply standing there yelling at them is, yes, protected by the First Amendment (so is videoing them, with the same caveats as above).

Thank you for supporting the victimhood culture we live in today.

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pretty sure being wrongly arrested doesn't fall under even the most generous terms of "playing the victim card"

but hey, keep walking with your horse blinders on! your myopia won't backfire on you at all.

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Joshua Abrams

Look him up if you can. A guy who beats women, doesn't pay child support, does heroin, robs people looking to buy drugs, etc. It is a guy who is mad at the police for trying to do their job. Now he says he was arrested for only calling a cop a pig?

He should change his name to victim card.

(only commenting on this guy because he is had the quote lbb had)

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He can call cops whatever name he likes. Move to Russia if you can't cope with that.

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I'm saying that this clown said his GF lied when he beat her up, and that the victim lied when he said he was robbed of drugs and money by Abrams, and that his other GF lied when she filed her affidavit for a RO in court, and then she lied again when he violated that order, and his other GF lied when he violated a different order, and the cops made it up when he was a suspect in an assault on a former roommate, and that roommate lied on the same case......

I like it just fine here, so you can move.

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excellent use of whataboutism!

the failings of prior legal proceedings do not justify an illegitimate arrest for current events. this guy could be the worlds biggest piece of shit, but calling a cop a pig should never be enough for an arrest on principle alone.

If Josh Abrams said he was arrested for calling an officer a pig, his reliability as a witness/victim/suspect/defendant is questionable is all I'm saying.

gift for projecting their own sins onto everyone else. Nobody, but nobody plays the victim better than the aggrieved old conservative white male.

Exhibit A: our ludicrous, Sharpie-wielding President, who rather than admitting a simple mistake ("Dorian will hit Alabama") goes to the most hilarious lengths to prove his completely bogus claim, then whimpers "Fake News is out to get me!" when the whole world points and laughs at what a pathetic, incompetent liar he is.

President "The F's on My Report Card Are Actually A's": your hero! Keep up the fine sad-sack work of emulating him.

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you do a pretty impressive job of ignoring the multiple posts that disprove the narrative you’re putting forth.

did i say impressive? i meant insufferable.

Where’s the hypocrisy? Sure, the two are similar in that each judge took the law into her/his own hands.

Beyond that, I don’t really see any similarities. One was an act of civil disobedience, the other an act of bowing to authority.

One judge was punished for her actions, the other likely won’t be.

It's kinda rich that Mahty allowed these creeps to parade through Boston spewing hate under the "free speech" umbrella while the counterprotesters (who everyone knew would be numerous and vocal, given Boston's progressive culture) aren't being afforded the same privilege. Mahty ok'd this, Mahty knew the likely outcome of this moronic and costly stunt and Mahty let it happen anyway. Mahty needs to go.

But even Mahty has to follow the constitution. Not a lot he can do to stop this march.

And I agree. But I'm wondering, if the event was such a security threat that the city had to deploy the entire BPD couldn't security/cost concerns have been cited as adequate reasons to deny the permit in the first place? I have no idea what Boston's permitting criteria for public demonstrations is, but you'd think such a decision would be easy to justify after the nazi invasion of Charlottesville.