jkrock

Sanctuary judges

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A liberal MA judge likes to release heroin dealers so they can avoid deportation, claiming drug dealers are committing an "economic crime".

 

What new laws do we need so guns don't fall into  dangerous hands?

 

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SALEM — Judge Timothy Feeley pointed to Manuel Soto-Vittini's lack of a criminal record as one of the reasons for his controversial decision to spare the admitted heroin and cocaine dealer from serving prison time. 

It turns out that's not quite accurate. 

Tuesday's decision was not the first time Soto-Vittini, 32, of Peabody, has been given a break aimed at helping him attempt to avoid deportation.  

On the morning of June 14, 2008, Soto-Vittini, then 22, was driving erratically on Lafayette Street in Salem when he was stopped by a Salem patrolman who discovered three bags of cocaine, two cell phones and several hundred dollars in cash. Soto-Vittini admitted to the patrolman that he'd been selling drugs for four months and was planning to sell the cocaine to a friend that morning. 

The following November, his lawyer persuaded a prosecutor and Salem District Court Judge Richard Mori to continue the case without a finding for nine months if Soto-Vittini admitted to simple possession. 

A decade later, however, as Feeley explained his rationale for sentencing Soto-Vittini to probation in a 2015 heroin distribution case, he noted that "a probation sentence is something I am more comfortable with than state prison for someone with no record." 

The sentence — for what Feeley called "basically a money crime" committed by Soto-Vittini to support his girlfriend and their children after he lost his job — sparked outrage and a small protest outside the Ruane Judicial Center on Wednesday. 

State Rep. Paul Tucker, the former Salem police chief and before that the head of the department's detectives division, took the unusual step of publicly criticizing a sitting judge Wednesday, after spending the morning fielding calls from constituents and former colleagues on the force. 

Tucker said it was the first time in 32 years that he's felt compelled to speak out publicly about a judge, calling Feeley's stated rationale "beyond misguided."

With evidence that Soto-Vittini had more than 40 bags of heroin in a specially installed "hide" compartment in his car, Tucker suggested that he's a level up from a street dealer selling to support a habit.

"In a case such as this, in the midst of the worst opiate epidemic ever, for the judge to label this an economic crime is just outrageous," Tucker said. 

He called the sentence "disrespectful to the police, to prosecutors and to those in the community we're all trying to keep safe."

Even before his arrest in 2015 on what was originally a heroin trafficking charge, Soto-Vittini knew the potential risks of being caught selling drugs again. 

In 2014, Soto-Vittini, who came to the United States in 2001 as a teen and is a legal permanent resident, said in court filings he had just learned for the first time that he was at risk of deportation due to the 2008 case.

He and an attorney filed a motion asking Mori to grant him a new trial, contending he was unaware of the immigration consequences of a plea. 

Mori denied the request.

In 2015, the state Appeals Court agreed, upholding Mori's decision. 

By then, however, Soto-Vittini had already been arrested on the heroin trafficking and cocaine distribution charges. 

Last year, Feeley was asked to continue another heroin distribution case without a finding to spare Yuly Ortiz, a Salem woman with young children, from being deported, a request he granted over the objection of a prosecutor. 

Prosecutors had argued that Ortiz had essentially stepped into her brother's role in running a drug distribution ring after his arrest, and asked for a sentence of supervised probation. 

It turned out, however, that a continuation without a finding still exposed her to the risk of being sent back to the Dominican Republic. 

Weeks after granting her a continuation without a finding, Feeley quietly granted a new request from her attorney, agreeing to enter a guilty finding in the case but then placing it "on file," without any punishment — a disposition her lawyer said would protect her from being deported. 

Judges are expected to consider several factors in sentencing a defendant, including punishment, rehabilitation and deterrence.

Tucker said considerations like immigration status should play no role. 

"We give judges wide discretion with which to do their job but this one goes too far," he said. 

However, despite calls from some for impeachment of the judge, Tucker said that's not likely to happen. 

The sentence of probation in Soto-Vittini's case was one that is allowed under the law for the charges of possession with intent to distribute drugs.

 

 

 

 

 

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6 mins ago, hamlet said:

how can anyone who is 32 years old have the wisdom and life experience needed to be a competent judge?

The judge was born in 1956

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13 mins ago, KnewBee said:

The judge was born in 1956

then clearly, even at 62, the judge lacks wisdom and life experience to be competent!

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Posted (edited) · Report post

Lady Justice wears a blindfold.  The morality portrayed by that imagery must be lost on these liberal judges

Edited by jkrock

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