SJC justice sides with Rollins in dispute over ‘Straight Pride Parade’ protesters

BOSTON (WHDH) - A justice on the state’s highest court has sided with Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins in a dispute with a lower court judge over the arrest of counterprotesters during a “straight pride” parade in Boston over Labor Day weekend.

The ruling from Supreme Judicial Court Justice Frank M. Gaziano came less than a week after Rollins filed an emergency petition asking the state’s Supreme Judicial Court to compel the lower court to accept her request not to prosecute at least one counterprotester charged with disorderly conduct following Saturday’s parade.

Rollins argued that Boston Municipal Court Judge Richard Sinnott overstepped his constitutional authority in refusing to recognize her office’s request.

The filing of a “nolle prosequi” by her office, she said, is a “constitutionally protected action that affords the prosecutor the right to exercise her judgment in the prosecution of cases and the allocation of limited prosecutorial resources to protect public safety.”

In its finding, Graziano wrote, “In the context of criminal prosecutions, the executive power affords prosecutors wide discretion in deciding whether to prosecute a particular defendant, and that discretion is exclusive to them.”

“Fundamentally, the judge had no authority to ‘deny’ the Commonwealth’s entry of a nolle prosequi. His effort to do so violated the Commonwealth’s constitutional rights…” Graziano wrote, adding that the record of the person arrested would be expunged.

Rollins said the ruling cleared up her role.

“There’s clarity now. We thought we had it but now it’s crystal clear that we have the authority to do what we did,” Rollins said.  “No one judge gets to impose their opinion over what the Commonwealth or the people of Suffolk County want.”

In a statement, Boston Police Commissioner William Gross said BPD officers “found themselves on the receiving end of an unending stream of verbal taunts, jeers, profanities, obscenities and physical assaults directed towards them throughout the course of the day, but he “could not be more proud or impressed with the high levels of restraint and professionalism” from them during the parade.

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