Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins and Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan joined today with public defenders to file a federal lawsuit that seeks to keep ICE agents out of state courthouses - such as Newton District Court, where a judge now faces federal criminal charges for trying to protect a man from an ICE agent waiting in the court lobby.
The DAs are being represented pro bono by the law firm of Goodwin Proctor in their suit against ICE and the Department of Homeland Security.
In a statement, Rollins said:
Our criminal justice system can only function properly when people feel safe coming to court. When victims, witnesses, and defendants fear that entering a courthouse could place them at risk of immigration consequences, it prevents us as prosecutors from securing justice for the people we serve. Initiating a federal civil deportation prior to a criminal defendant being held accountable for the harm they caused in Suffolk County does nothing to serve the interest of justice or public safety. Instead, it creates an environment of fear and mistrust, and harms our entire community.
Wendy Wayne, Director of the Immigration Impact Unit at the Committee for Public Counsel Services - which provides public defenders - said:
Federal ICE agents have been regularly stalking our state courthouses in communities throughout Massachusetts for the last two years. When criminal defendants, witnesses and civil litigants are arrested by ICE before their cases are resolved or avoid the courthouses because of fear of ICE arrest, access to justice is denied for everyone.
Also bringing the suit: Lawyers for Civil Rights and the Chelsea Collaborative.