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Judge Jails Lawyer Defending Activists Who Protested Straight Pride

Judge Jails Lawyer Defending Activists Who Protested Straight Pride

He has also refused requests to dismiss charges against defendants.

After refusing requests to dismiss charges against organizers who protested Boston's Straight Pride Parade, a judge has gone even further and ordered their lawyer arrested.

Thirty-six people were arrested during the protests against the Saturday event, most of whom faced minor charges. While Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins wanted to dismiss most of the lower level offenses cases -- citing the First Amendment rights of activists -- Judge Richard Sinnott of the Boston Municipal Court refused.

Attorney Susan Church, who represents some of the accused, attempted to read case law indicating that Sinnott's move to continue prosecution was improper. Sinnott claimed that Church spoke over him and found her in contempt of court. He ordered her to be handcuffed and threw her in a holding cell for hours. During that time, she was unable to advocate for her clients.

Church, who was named "Attorney of the Year" by the National Lawyers Guild in Massachusetts, was released later that evening. "All I was trying to do was to read the law to the court," she told the local news site MassLive, "and I was summarily arrested."

Legal observers were stunned by Sinnott's move.

"Arresting a defense lawyer for doing her job crossed the line from abuse of authority to needing to be removed from judicial office," tweeted the Boston-area law firm PiltserCowan, which is not involved in any of the current cases.

Carol Rose, executive director of the national legal advocacy group American Civil Liberties Union, expressed concern with Sinnott's conduct as well. "We are deeply troubled by the events of the last 48 hours, and are proud to represent Susan Church in this matter," Rose said in a press release.

The Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers said that jailing Church for doing her job is a "gross abuse of power that requires judicial disciplinary action," while Rollins called it "unprecedented and outrageous."

Rollins has filed an emergency petition to force Sinnott to drop charges against protesters.

The controversial judge adopted similar tactics earlier this year. After a man was accused of shoplifting, prosecutors wanted him released so he could continue drug treatment. However, Sinnott ordered him locked up for 90 days.

The city of Boston has also faced criticism after some of the activists protesting Straight Pride were beaten and maced by police.

RELATED | Boston Threw Its Straight Pride Parade During a Hate Crime Wave

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