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National Lawyers Guild attorney defending ‘Straight Pride’ protesters taken into custody and held in contempt of court



Today, when a defense attorney Susan Church attempted to advocate for her client by raising separation of powers arguments, she was jailed and held in contempt by Judge Richard Sinnott.

On September 3 and 4, people charged for their role in standing up against the the alt-right sponsored Straight Pride parade, were arraigned in the Boston Municipal Court. This has been five days of reckless disregard for the law and justice by some of the people and institutions who are supposed to protect it. On Saturday during the protest large scale violence was initiated by the police resulting in serious injuries by many protesters. During the arraignments in Boston Municipal Court, Judge Richard Sinnott made clear that individuals rights would not be vindicated in our criminal legal system, but instead would be further trampled.

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office moved to dismiss many charges prior to arraignment, recognizing that they were low level offenses that should not appear on people’s permanent criminal records. This is consistent with their policy memo regarding a set number of offenses for which they are trying to prosecute less. The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office also moved to file Nolle Prosequi in cases for which they determined there is no probable cause. The District Attorney ethically bound to do this, as a person cannot be prosecuted if there is not probable cause to support the charge.

Judge Richard Sinnott was routinely denying motions filed by the prosecutor’s office to dismiss minor charges and to dismiss charges for which there was no probable cause (no legal basis for the case to be prosecuted.) Beyond protest cases, Judge Sinnott has been routinely denying motions to dismiss by the District Attorney’s office in criminal cases since the implementation of the Rollins Policy memo. This is in gross violation of the separation of powers and has the impact of obstructing the policy priorities of Suffolk County District Attorney Rachel Rollins‘ Administration.

Today, when a defense attorney Susan Church attempted to advocate for her client by raising these separation of powers arguments, she was jailed and held in contempt by Judge Sinnott. This continued a trend that began on Tuesday where he denied defense attorneys the right to make arguments on issues of bail and evidentiary issues.

A contempt hearing has been scheduled for 2pm on September 4.

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Attorney Church is not the only person who has been jailed in the last two days by Judge Sinnott. Multiple activists who were released following their arrest, and appeared in court on time, had their bails increased without purpose, and taken into custody.

See also: Judge cites lawyer for contempt of court during protester arraignment; then releases her

[From a press release]

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The hardest working news organization in Rhode Island! Uprise RI was founded in 2017 by Steve Ahlquist, and focuses on civil liberties, social justice, and human rights.