As long time readers of this blog know I am an attorney, for my sins no doubt. Although the bulk of my practice is civil, over the years I have defended hundreds of defendants accused of crimes, ranging from petty offenses up to Class X Felonies. In two criminal cases I have served as a special prosecutor, but otherwise prosecutors have been my courtroom adversaries. As a result of this I have criticisms of how many prosecutors do business, including over charging, the use of dubious jail house snitches, bringing cases to trial on very weak evidence of guilt, slipshod discovery, and the list could go on at some length. All that is a subject for another post, or a series of posts if I get ambitious and energetic. This post will focus on a criticism I did not think I would ever have had to make of prosecutors: a refusal to prosecute crimes.
Growing out of the Black Lives Matter hysteria there has been an ever swelling movement on the Left that is anti-police and anti convicted criminals going to jail. This is a very recent development. Even in the icy blue precincts of this country traditionally prosecutors have run for District Attorney, in Illinois we call them State’s Attorneys, on pledges to be tough on crime. Anyone can be a victim of crime, and although on the Left there have always been radical defense attorneys, usually even liberal Democrats elected as prosecutors tended to be hard nosed when it came to the performance of their duties. That is changing.
Thanks largely to huge amounts of money provided by George Soros, go here to read all about it, prosecutors, usually in Democrat controlled urban counties, are being elected running on anti-police and pro-criminal platforms.
Rachael Rollins, elected District Attorney of Suffolk County in Massachusetts, the county which contains Boston, is typical of this new breed of prosecutor, or perhaps a better term would be anti-prosecutor ?, that the Soros funding is getting elected. The image at the top of this post are crimes which she has pledged not to prosecute. She is now getting publicity far outside the land of the bean and the cod due to her attempt to dismiss charges against violent Antifa rioters in regard to the recent Straight Pride march in Boston.
District Attorney Rachael Rollins is taking anti-Straight Pride Parade protester cases to the Supreme Judicial Court, seeking dismissals that a Boston Municipal Court judge refused to order.
Judge Richard Sinnott on Tuesday denied requests from Rollins’ prosecutors to dismiss charges. Wednesday he held a defense attorney in contempt of court for arguing case law in support of Rollins’ position. She was handcuffed and sat in a cell for hours before being let go.
Rollins, in response, filed a 16-page emergency petition to the SJC to step in and resolve the impasse.
“The actions of Judge Richard Sinnott are unprecedented and outrageous,” Rollins said in a statement announcing the SJC filing. “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.”
She added that Sinnott “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.”
Sinnott declined to comment Wednesday, citing that the cases are pending.
Go here to read the rest. Under the doctrine of prosecutorial discretion prosecutors normally have broad powers to dismiss criminal charges. However, this power is not absolute. If a prosecutor has a corrupt motive, for example refusing to proceed with a prosecution because a defendant is a relative of a large campaign donor, the court can refuse to order a dismissal. I would suggest that the same finding of a corrupt motive should also apply in cases where a prosecutor is refusing to prosecute for ideological reasons. In such cases a trial court should have the discretion to appoint a special prosecutor to ensure that justice, rather than politics, is being played out in their courtroom.