The Boston Brouhaha – Judge Sinnott Et Al.

My hiatus from blogging caused by doing other important stuff as minding my grandchild who at times makes me think of the young lad in O Henry’s Kidnapping of Red Chief will continue after this short note.

(Because of Red Chief or my senility the rest of this tweet which I will let stand is messed up. I mistook the Judge Richard Sinnott for Bill Sinnott. It was Bill who worked with me in the DA’s office. I should have known it b/c Richard did not look like Bill as I remembered him but figured the gray hair changed his looks. Anyway, a big mistake by me and my apologies to Richard and Bill Sinnott.)

Judge Richard Sinnott is in the news as you know for his action against persons who were arrested for committing alleged criminal acts while being in the group of people who opposed the straight guy march and for his allegedly intemperate act in tossing a woman lawyer in the can. There are some who would argue that had she been a man she would not have been locked up but there seems to be little to base that on other than the idea that somehow Sinnott has a problem with women lawyers. I’ve never been before him but I’d tend to doubt it.

In the interests of full disclosure Sinnott was a young assistant district attorney in the Norfolk District Attorney’s office when I was the deputy DA. If my memory is correct he worked on a wiretap with me but I don’t recall he was particularly interested in doing them. He preferred to be in the courtroom than in the investigative end which many do. I know while with me he worked well and closely with other assistant DAs both male and female so it is hard to see that he would treat one sex differently from the other. I recall him as a competent ADA – not that I saw him in court that much – but when an ADA fell short of the high expectations we had of them I’d often hear of it from judges or others. I had no complaints from anyone about his work.

Now he is in the middle of a scrum with others. The Globe’s columnists supporting the others. Reading the news I’m not certain exactly what happened before he held Attorney Susan Church in contempt or what was involved in the cases before him.

As to the cases the law seems quite clear. If DA Rollins entered a nolle prosequi (pros) to any of the cases that were brought based on the complaints filed by the police then those matters should not have been before Sinnott. The right of a DA to nolle pros a case is unrestricted. A statement of the reason is supposed to be filed with it but most DAs simply say “in the interests of justice.” I would spell out the reasons in great detail when I took that action so that future questions about it would be set out.

One nolle pros I entered came after a judge ordered a complaint to issue against a police officer. I believed he was wrong so I nolle prossed it. He was furious but without recourse other than to beat up on the young ADAs who came before him.

The point is simple: a nolle pros makes a case disappear. No judge has to be involved. The person who was the defendant in the case does not have to appear in court.

Most DAs are reluctant to enter a nolle pros. They want a judge to dismiss the case. In those instances then the judge has full discretion to do whatever he wants with the case. Sinnott in that instance is correct in making whatever decision he wants. He can say I’m not going to do it until you notify the victims, or, better, he can just say denied. I recall being at a side bench with Judge Dwyer and seeing a sign on his desk that spelled out in big letters “silence.” I said “shouldn’t that be facing toward the people in the court.” He smiled and said: “No, it is intended to remind me to keep my mouth shut.”

As for the contempt, the judge did tell Attorney Church he was warning her to stop talking or something like that. She continued. Foolish move. Attorneys will often over talk a judge and little happens to the attorney – although it doesn’t seem to inure to the benefit of a client when they do. But when a judge has had enough and tells one, as I have been told, to sit down or she’s heard enough, then you do it.

Now remember I’m from the time when people coming to court not properly dressed were barred from entering it; attorneys in sports coats told to go home and change, and the judge was similar to the captain of a ship. I know much has changed, well I saw it during my career. I do however believe that the tradition of respect for judges must be strongly adhered to. If a judge is wrong there are remedies for it, the one that does not exist is to challenge him or her in the courtroom after being told you’re going a little too far. Fortunately we don’t require people to walk the plank anymore.

10 thoughts on “The Boston Brouhaha – Judge Sinnott Et Al.

  1. People of Attorney Church’s ilk take time out from their predominantly upper middle class and trust funded lives to pursue their — 1% ers take up cudgels for the 99 % — masked bandit thug dreams of social justice glory. They are cowardly and morally despicable bully gangs composed of the scrofulous remnants of a feminism turned to racial genocide as vigorous in its planned parenthood Sanger realized utopia of white babies over black as it is in its program to destroy the white man. As well as the usual interminably matriculating grad school thumbsuckers and bored undergrad nihilists. They are revolting individuals lost in a video game with real world consequences where they pelt cops with bottles of piss and strut their masked impunity like the craven folks they are. They have been getting a huge pass. These are people who think — putting your body on the line — is chasing a seventy five year old granny with an American flag across the Park St . quad and pushing her to the ground . The exceedingly -Vassar , Smith , or Bryn Mawr — attorney Church in all her choleric stridency in Judge Sinnot’s court is just another loud mouthed , civilly indecent , attention whoring ( whoring is used as non sexist term here ) avatar of their shabby and demonic demos .

      1. If the City Council stands up and bans masks at these Antifa Droog Rallies, — there’s some Clockwork Orange, Abe — then things will improve for Boston’s Finest and all involved. Where’s The Dap . Nice to hear from you Abelah .

  2. Neither the Globe nor the Herald has a knowledgeable court reporter of the sort we had in the days of Joe Harvey and Al Sheehan. As a a result when reading the stories about the Straight Pride Parade-Antifa prosecutions, we were first scratching our heads wondering why people thought a judge was not allowed to deny a DA’s Motion to Dismiss. Then after another day or so the stories mentioned that the DA had filed a “nol pros” or Nolle Prosequi, a decision by the DA not to prosecute. (I know you and many of your readers know this, Matt, but it’s for the others.) A nol pros ends the case without any necessity of endorsement by a judge. Now we wondered what made Judge Sinnott think he could disregard a nol pros. Only after another day did we learn that Judge Sinnott’s view is that a nol pros is a “disposition” under c. 258B, the Victim-Witness statute, requiring notice to any victim before any disposition of a criminal case. This could arguably apply to A & B on a Police Officer. All of this would have known to any knowledgeable person in the courtroom at the time which apparently included none of the members of the press present.
    As for the contempt jailing I would want to hear the tape or at least see a transcript before forming an opinion. I think I was considered cranky in my time but in 25 years on the bench I never put a lawyer in the dock (although God knows I thought about it). I certainly don’t trust the press versions of the hearing.

  3. One of the guys I worked with in Boston was a former Suffolk County DA who kept entertaining BPD reports from his tenure there. One was a Boston officer who was never known to engage in foot pursuit but had done so in this case…the case would end up before a notoriously lenient judge and the report, in sum, read something like this:

    I pursued the suspect on foot and caught up to him and withdrew my club to bring him to the ground and to administer to him the only justice he will ever see in this case!

  4. Good post Matt. D.A.Rollind
    s is tweeting nasty stuff about Judge Sinnott. The columnists and editorial board are attacking him for not dismissing the cases and making the attorney a hero.
    Nancy Gertner and Harvey Silverglate are attacking him for not dismissing.

    I hope Lawyer Weekly kicks the shit out of all of them.
    I also hope the SJC writes a detailed opinion on the appeal and reports the attorney and Rollins to BBO for their comments about the judge and judicial system.

  5. I sat in Middlesex County in various courts during my career. My first visit to one
    was memorable in that there was sitting on the bench my first day there a small
    wooden sign with letters burnt into the wood . the letters were KYFMS.Taking these
    letters to heart over my time on the bench was good advice from a long deceased
    judge who was a salty Marine in his younger days.
    Another bit of advice came from Bill Tierney,Chief Justice of the BMC who reminded me to keep it short since “You always get the last word”. We need more Bill
    Tierneys today.

  6. wa-llahi! Epstein suicide? Not so fast.

    Arrest and suicide[edit]
    On July 31, 1988, Scarpelli was arrested by federal agents for a robbery in Michigan City, Indiana. After being confronted with wiretap conversations from James “Duke” Basile, a Scapelli crew member, discussing assassination methods, Scarpelli agreed to become an informant. Scarpelli eventually admitted his involvement in the 1980 Dauber murders as well as the murders of mob chauffeur Gerald Carusiello and chop shop owner Timothy O’Brien.
    On May 2, 1989, two days before a court ruling on his robbery charges, Gerald Scarpelli died after hanging himself in a shower stall at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago. Scarpelli allegedly killed himself because a judge had recently ruled against him regarding the Basile tapes.

    Hmmm…..

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