District Attorney’s Rollins Submits Emergency Petition to Court in Protest Arraignment

Today, Suffolk County prosecutors submitted to the court an emergency petition requesting that the Single Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court order Justice Richard Sinnott of the Central Division of the Boston Municipal Court to accept the Commonwealth’s nolle prosequi in the case of an individual who had been charged with disorderly conduct after the “Straight Pride Parade.” 

On September 3, 2019, in an unprecedented action, Justice Sinnott refused to accept and recognize what the Supreme Judicial Court has stated is the Commonwealth’s “absolute power to enter a nolle prosequi and terminate prosecution of a criminal complaint.  Over the Commonwealth’s objection, the judge arraigned the defendant on the charge of disorderly conduct, which has a maximum fine as a first-time offense of $150, and set bail at $750. 

This morning, the same judge again refused to accept the Commonwealth’s nolle prosequi in a different case and held defense counsel on that case in contempt of court for arguing case law in support of the Commonwealth’s position. She was handcuffed and sat in a cell for hours.  Simply for doing her job.

“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,” District Attorney Rollins said. “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.”

Suffolk County prosecutors are proceeding under G.L. c. 211, § 3, which is a petition for the Single Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court to use its general superintendence power over “courts of inferior jurisdiction to correct and prevent errors and abuses therein if no other remedy is expressly provided.”

Read the petition here.

Renee Algarin