On Monday, Judge Frank Gaziano of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court agreed with the progressive Boston prosecutor that Judge Richard Sinnott didn’t have the authority to prevent the District Attorney from dropping charges against “straight pride” protesters.
Conservatives are disappointed, but the ruling is a correct application of the law. The whole confusion could have been prevented if the prosecuting attorney was just a little more familiar with the rules when she was standing in Judge Sinnott’s courtroom.
Judge Sinnott never disputed that the prosecutor has the authority to pick and choose which cases go to court, and which aren’t worth wasting taxpayer money on, because they’re not likely to succeed. That wasn’t the issue.
The judge asked the district attorney why she didn’t notify the “victims” of the crimes, the organizers and participants of the straight pride rally who had their First Amendment rights stepped on by Antifa protesters. “Officers were pelted with rocks, bottles of urine and other unidentified materials,” The Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association notes.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has what they call a “Victim’s Bill of Rights.” Judge Sinnott contended that the prosecutor “could not file a nolle prosequi without notifying the parade organizers because they, essentially, could be considered ‘victims’ whose First Amendment right to free speech had been impeded by the Defendant’s protest.”
Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, well known to lean progressive, didn’t have an answer as to what gave her the right to ignore the notice law. Since she was unable to persuade the judge she could skip notification and still dismiss charges, the judge ruled on the conservative side and went ahead with arraignment.
After her staff had a chance to do some research, they found a better answer to Judge Sinnott’s question and used it as part of their brief, asking for an emergency decision setting aside Judge Sinnott’s rulings. A single Justice, Frank Gaziano, reviewed the arguments on both sides and agreed with the prosecutor.
According to the nine page ruling issued by Gaziano, “disorderly conduct is an offense against the public, not a single victim.” That was the core of the matter right there. The prosecutor had no duty to notify leaders of Super Happy Fun America of her decision to drop charges.
If Rollins had thought to mention that to Judge Sinnott when he asked, he would have most likely allowed the charges to be dropped and that would have been the end of it.
You have to give Judge Sinnott credit for at least trying to make sure that conservatives in Boston get as fair a shake as they can in his courtroom. He may have been a little overzealous, but as this whole exchange proves, there are plenty of safeguards built in to protect the rights of every American citizen.
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