Protesters in Salem call for removal of judge accused of going easy on crime

SALEM, Mass. (WHDH) — Protesters gathered outside Salem Superior Court Thursday, calling for the removal of a judge under fire for going easy on criminals.

Judge Timothy Feeley was criticized after he gave convicted drug dealer Manuel Soto-Vittini probation instead of jail time. Those who lost loved ones to overdoses said Feeley made the wrong decision.

“To just put someone back on the street like that, it’s just a total injustice and we’re never going to stop this epidemic if we don’t do something about it,” said Chris Carpenter, who lost his girlfriend to an overdose.

Gov. Charlie Baker (R-Mass.) called Feeley’s decision “ridiculous and an outrage,” but said it is up to the courts to decide if he should be removed from the bench.

Feeley is also one of two judges who lowered bail for John Williams, who was arrested in Massachusetts on gun charges back in March. He is now charged with killing a sheriff’s deputy in Maine.

State Rep. Jim Lyons (R-Andover) is now filing a bill that he said would let the House vote to remove Feeley. He said Feeley’s decisions have shown he is incompetent.

Ed Ryan, the former head of the Massachusetts Bar Association, said Feeley is allowed to exercise his judgement.

“He’s done nothing wrong, he’s followed law, made a judgement and you can’t remove a judge because you disagree with the severity or leniency of a sentence,” said Ryan.

Feeley was nominated by then-Gov. Deval Patrick (D-Mass.) in 2008.

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