District Attorney spars with judge over Straight Pride Parade prosecutions
District Attorney Rachael Rollins, who took office in January, is alleging Boston Municipal Court Judge Richard J. Sinnott overreached his power in a case regarding the potential prosecution of counterprotesters of Boston’s “Straight Pride Parade,” according to a Boston Globe article.
At least seven of Rollins’ 36 requests not to prosecute the nonviolent counterprotesters were denied by Sinnott. Rollins argued this was a clear breach of the separation of powers, as it is the District Attorney’s role as a member of the executive branch to decide to drop charges or not. Rollins was quoted by WBUR as saying, “‘The judge ignored the clear and unambiguous constraints placed on the judiciary.’”
Rollins filed an emergency petition Wednesday asking the State’s Judicial Court to intervene in one of the cases.
Sinnot had defense attorney Susan Church jailed for three hours when she attempted to cite laws that stood in opposition to Sinnot’s decision regarding the dropping of charges. Church was released after three hours in custody, but said, “‘This [behavior] was not legal and it should not be let to stand,’” according to the Boston Globe.
The choice to not prosecute the Straight Pride counterprotestors is in line with Rollins’ history as DA. She has chosen to decline prosecution on a variety of low-level crimes, according to her website, including drug possession, drug possession with intent to distribute, threats (excluding domestic violence) and shoplifting (including offenses that are essentially shoplifting but charged as larceny).
Some, including former Suffolk County prosecutor Tim Bradl, have argued that this policy leaves few options for victims, because the only option is to sue for damages, according to the Boston Herald. According to MassLive, Rollins argued instead that, “Why I’m standing here as your Suffolk County DA is because of the communities that have been forgotten or ignored … We’re going to make sure the policies actually work for them.”