Judge Feeley Should Be Removed From the Bench [OPINION]
Several Massachusetts lawmakers are seeking the removal of Salem Superior Court Judge Timothy Feeley for what most reasonable people would consider poor judgment in sentencing dangerous defendants. Among them are Representative Shaunna O'Connell (R-Taunton) and U.S. Senate Candidate and current State Rep Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman).
Feeley sentenced convicted drug dealer Manuel Soto-Vittini to probation rather than prison time, because Soto-Vittini is an immigrant subject to deportation. Feeley also reduced bail for a man who later shot and killed a deputy sheriff from Maine.
The Massachusetts Bar Association says removing Feeley from the bench because you disagree with his decisions is "extreme."
Governor Charlie Baker has called Feeley's Sotto-Vitinni decision "outrageous." Baker says the Supreme Judicial Court, which is the "overseer of the courts," should look into the matter.
But the public has had it with judges who seem to issue sentences based upon some political ideology rather than the rule of law and with the best interests of the citizenry in mind. There is little or no recourse when these judges make bad calls, and it happens too frequently, it seems.
Police and prosecutors work hard to bring criminals to justice, only to watch as some judges treat them too leniently or let them go.
Enough is enough.
Unless Massachusetts is ready to change the state constitution to require the election of judges, there has to be a way to hold jurists who make poor decisions more accountable.
Reps. O'Connell, Diehl and the others are to be commended for their legislation that could lead to the removal of Judge Feeley from the bench.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.