The ACLU is urging the Supreme Judicial Court to dismiss a charge against a demonstrator arrested at the “Straight Pride Parade.” The ACLU of Massachusetts, together with the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, today submitted a “friend-of-the-court” brief in support of the Commonwealth’s attempt to end this case.
Thirty-six people were arrested by Boston police during the “Straight Pride Parade” and counter-protests on August 30. In the following days, the Boston Municipal Court refused Suffolk County prosecutors’ requests to drop charges against several demonstrators.
According to the new amicus brief, the judge does not have the authority to force prosecutors to move forward with a case when the defendant and district attorney agree that a charge should be dropped. In this particular case, the Commonwealth moved to dismiss a charge and the defendant did not object. The court, however, refused to terminate the case, arraigned the defendant over prosecutors’ objections, and set a bail amounting to five times the maximum fine for the offense.
“Where the parties are in agreement that a charge should be terminated, the judiciary has no power to force a prosecutor to pursue it,” the ACLU and MACDL write. “And in the particular context here, the judiciary’s intervention would affirmatively frustrate the will of the electorate. The voters of Suffolk County overwhelmingly voted for a District Attorney who promised to use her constitutionally assigned powers to terminate unjust cases."