Off Topic: The Power of A Prosecutor Shown In DA Morrissey’s Nolle Pros Of Amy Bishop’s Indictment

The Quincy Patriot Ledger is reporting that Amy Bishop wants to get a trip from prison in Alabama up to here so that she can be tried on the murder indictment which was pending against her in Norfolk County. I’m sure I don’t have to remind you that Amy shot and killed her brother Seth in 1986.  Many years later in 2010 after she killed her three co-workers at Huntsville, Alabama, the Norfolk DA revisited her 1986 shooting of her brother because of a hue and cry in the media and presented the evidence to a grand jury. It returned a murder indictment. I never understood how she could have been charged with murder when her mother who was present and Amy herself, the only two witnesses, said it was accidental.

But as you know a DA can indict a banana peel. The grand jury whose  purpose is to stand between the prosecutor and the people, it was instituted to protect the commoner from the arbitrary power of the king’s prosecutor, is often a DA’s toady. But the correctness of the indictment or whether it can be proven is not the issue.

I’ve said before that bringing Amy to Massachusetts to try her was a waste of time and taxpayer money and hoped the DA Michael Morrissey would look at what happened in Alabama, see that she was never going to ever get out of prison except in a coffin, and drop the murder case that is pending against her here especially since he has the mess caused by Annie Dookham to figure out.

That’s what DA Morrissey did.  He did it the right way. He filed a nolle prosequi. This is a statement by him saying he does not wish to prosecute the matter further. I haven’t seen it and don’t know if he spelled out a reason for it. I used to always put my reason in writing but it isn’t required. Whether he did or not the case is over.

It now appears that Amy’s Massachusetts public defender, attorney Larry Tipton, has filed her objection to the nolle pros in court here. I don’t even know how he filed the objection since there is no case pending. Bishop says in the court document that she had “a loving and caring relationship” with her teenage brother, and wants to prove his death was accidental. It’s too bad Attorney Tipton did not tell his client that she has no standing to file such a matter. I thought that was what attorneys were suppose to do — give proper legal advice. Attorney Tipton should know that the courts have no jurisdiction over the prosecutor and cannot require a prosecutor to do anything.

Let me tell you something about the power of a prosecutor. He has the absolute right to decide what cases he will prosecute. Good prosecutors, like Morrissey, recognize this. This power is given to prosecutors for precisely the reason we see here in Amy’s situation where she is looking for a little vacation from her prison cell in Alabama and is demanding to be brought here for trial. The DA looked at her situation in Alabama, looked at the matter pending here, and made the decision not to give her the trip.

A couple of examples: An off-duty cop in his private vehicle saw some suspicious activity going on behind an auto dealership. He drove in to check it out.  There he saw a car filled with young guys. They just seemed to be hanging out so he drove out and headed for his home. The young guys for some reason decided to follow him and tail gated him for a while. Long story short, he ended up getting in a little fracas with one of them called Tom. Tom was arrested and charged with A&B. Tom’s lawyer wanted the cop to be charges with A&B also. The magistrate in the court heard the evidence and refused to do it.

Tom’s lawyer appealed the case to Judge S. who heard the facts, decided the cop should be charged, and ordered a complaint to issued. I first heard of it when I got a call from the cop’s chief who asked me to look at the case. I did. I felt the cop should not have been charged. Judge S. who had just ordered the complaint issued was nonplussed when I nolle prossed the case. Boiling mad was an apt description of him. He considered it some type of personal affront to him. But there was nothing he could do about it but yell at the young assistant DAs who had to go before him.

I had another case where this guy with oodles of dough went to a clerk’s hearing and got a complaint of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon against his former girlfriend for some truly trivial event. She was a dentist.  I thought it was absurd given the situation and entered a nolle prosequi. The guy was livid because he hoped to use the criminal justice system to harass this woman. He called me several times telling me he could buy and sell me. He had politicians calling me including a state senator. He could not understand how someone he perceived as a lowly civil servant could interfere with his vendetta against that woman and despite his huge wealth there was nothing he could do.

Well that is precisely the situation Amy is in. There is nothing she can do to make DA Morrissey do anything nor is there anyone else in Massachusetts who has a say over what he cases he decides to do prosecute.  Few understand the true power of a prosecutor and it is the wise prosecutor who uses that power for the benefit of the people.



2 thoughts on “Off Topic: The Power of A Prosecutor Shown In DA Morrissey’s Nolle Pros Of Amy Bishop’s Indictment

  1. Thats the problem prosecutors have too much power and they don’t always use it to benefit the public but to benefit themselves and their political friends.

    One person whether a prosecutor or a Judge should not be in the position to make unreiewable decisions, when they can they become the law so regardless of the facts they can do what they want.

    1. Would you want the police to have it? We’ve seen with the FBI and the DOJ that given the police that power when the DOJ attorneys fear standing up to them is a bad idea. Would you want judges to have it? What good would that be if the matter then had to be put in the hand of the prosecutor to carry on. If a prosecutor decides not to prosecute a case certainly a person who believed he or she is victimized might complain but no one will be going to prison and the person victimized still has a right to sue in civil court. If a prosecutor brings a case, it then is supervised by a judge.
      I think the power to decide what cases to prosecute is properly placed in a prosecutor. My problem with prosecutors is they don’t utilize their powers more and often will fear ending a case with a nolle prosequi but agree to a dismissal. Of course any power can be abused but that is no reason to prevent people who will exercise it properly from having it.

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