The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Office of Representative David F. DeCoste
State House, Boston, MA 02133-1054
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 7, 2018
CONTACT: Caitlin Favreau (617) 722-2430
DeCoste Backs Impeachment of Salem Judge Feeley
Boston – State Representative David DeCoste (R-Norwell) is calling for the removal of a Massachusetts judge following a controversial decision to release a defendant facing drug trafficking charges. “We have seen a pattern of leniency and total disregard for public safety on the part of Judge Feely. He has violated his oath of office and must be removed from this powerful position of trust,” commented Mr. DeCoste.
Representative DeCoste is one of more than 40 House and Senate members co-sponsoring a resolution calling on Governor Charlie Baker to recommend a vote by the Governor’s Council to remove Salem Superior Court Judge Timothy Q. Feeley from the bench. A majority of legislators in both branches must approve the resolution to initiate the removal process.
Last month, Salem Superior Court Judge, Timothy Q. Feeley oversaw a hearing of Manuel Soto-Vittini, convicted of trafficking drugs with the intent to distribute 40 bags of heroin. In the midst of an opioid epidemic consuming the state of Massachusetts, this not only created an uproar amongst those on Beacon Hill, but further angered legislators and constituents when the transcripts of Soto-Vittini’s pre-sentencing hearing arose, showing Feeley considering a probationary sentence for the 33-year old Dominican.
“If he was a citizen, I’d send him – I’d probably do House time, but I’d send him to the House. I would,” Feeley said at a lobby conference. These statements followed a discussion with Soto-Vittini’s defense attorney Eduardo Masferrer regarding the fact that a jail sentence would make it more likely for Soto-Vittini “to be found, discovered, and interviewed by ICE officials,” according to Feeley. This was later disproven by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement official who revealed to the Boston Herald, as Soto-Vittini’s conviction was “just under the mandatory legal threshold” to trigger his removal.
This decision, in conjunction with other past decisions of Feeley that are seen as too lenient, sparked a group of Republican legislators to file legislation to impeach the appointment of Feeley. One such legislator, Representative Geoff Diehl, stated that “We saw a judge who made a decision to put basically a drug dealer... back on the street, saying that all he was doing is trying to earn a living for his family... Talk to the families of Massachusetts who’ve had loved ones die.”
Both parties on the Hill are outraged regarding Soto-Vittini’s sentencing, with the Democratic House Speaker, Robert DeLeo, leading his party stating, “I am deeply troubled by what I’ve heard, and I expect that the (Supreme Judicial Court) will determine whether the judge appropriately exercised his discretion... I look forward to a timely report by the SJC on the Judge’s conduct.”
David DeCoste represents the towns of Norwell, Rockland and Hanover in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.