BOSTON (CBS) — Susan Church, who has been a practicing attorney for nearly three decades, said she was just doing her job, arguing the law, when she was handcuffed and dragged out of Boston Municipal Court. “He screams ‘That’s it! Put her in custody, get her out of the courtroom,’” Church told WBZ-TV.
“I couldn’t believe it. I was in handcuffs in what felt like a snap. I was walked down the hallway where I’ve seen my clients be walked down many times before,” Church said.READ MORE: Missing Man's Body Recovered From Taunton River In Somerset
That day, September 4th, her clients happened to be counter-protesters; arrested during the Straight Pride Parade.
“I started to read these cases, but the judge wanted to talk about victim right statues. He interrupted me six or seven times, certainly I interrupted him back, but there was a severe imbalance. It was at a point, where I felt I wasn’t even able to make any argument at all. There was back and forth, we were talking over each other, and he says last warning,” Church recalled. “I had never raised my voice.”
The jurist: Suffolk County Judge Richard Sinnott. He had spent two days repeatedly denying prosecutors’ requests to drop charges against non-violent demonstrators.
“That was always the policy. Boston has always respected the first amendment right of protesters. Rachael Rollins is following the policy of her predecessors and yet somehow when she does it there’s an uproar. And I question why that is,” said Church.
Also questioning Sinnott’s judgment is the Commission on Judicial Conduct.
Last week, they announced they’ve opened a probe into his “…handling of criminal arraignments… on September 3rd and 4th.” Also under review “his alleged actions in connection with Susan Church being taken into custody.”READ MORE: Framingham Man Seriously Injured In New Hampshire Rollover UTV Crash
“I certainly agree that there should an investigation,” Church said. “I don’t think in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, that we should be using tactics of locking up lawyers”
She claims there were also several inconsistencies with her appearance. For one, her client’s arraignment started without her present. “I had already entered an appearance in the case, which meant the judge knew she was represented.”
And while in lock-up, Church said Sinnott sent her a message through a court officer, “which is inappropriate on a number of levels. The conversation was like ‘if you don’t make a scene, I’ll let you out.’ Something to that effect,” Church said.
She was freed within two hours and credits her release to a team of attorneys who came to her defense, among them her husband.
The mother of two became nationally renowned for being among the first group of lawyers to get a judge to affirm an injunction against Trump’s travel ban. The ordeal, a first for Church, is giving her renewed purpose to fight the good fight for criminal defendants with little resources.
“Me? I go back to my law practice. They go back to losing their job. Then they might have problems with rent, problems with housing, they don’t get out the same day because media shows up, or other lawyers show up. They languish in there sometimes for months and their lives could be ruined by that one moment that a judge says lock them up,” said Church.
It’s unclear what kind of disciplinary action, if any, Sinnott could face.MORE NEWS: Rep. Stephen Lynch: 'We Have To Get To An Agreement' On Stalled Infrastructure Bill
In a statement to WBZ, Judge Sinnott said: “I look forward to a rapid resolution of this matter.”