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Most Legislative Candidates Agree With Lyons: Controversial Judge Should Be Removed

May 22, 2018 02:46AM ● By Bill Gilman
Legislative candidates in the Merrimack Valley are speaking out regarding a resolution filed by state Rep. Jim Lyons, R-Andover, calling for the impeachment of Salem Superior Court Judge Timothy Feeley.
Many of the candidates, from both sides of the aisle, agree that Feeney should be removed from the bench. But some believe impeachment is the wrong course of action and endangers judicial independence.
Feeley has been the subject of significant criticism in recent years for rulings that some have felt favored convicted criminals over victims and law enforcement. Most recently, Feeley sentenced convicted heroin dealer Manuel Soto-Vittini to two years probation, rather than the recommended sentence of at least a year in prison.
Last month, that career criminal John Williams, who allegedly shot and killed Somerset (Maine) County Sheriff Cpl. Eugene Cole, was free because Feeley had reduced his bail on an unrelated firearms charge to $5,000 just a few weeks before the murder.
Lyons, who represents the 18th Middlesex District, is also encouraging residents to sign a petition on, calling for Feeley to be removed.
Atty. Tram Nguyen, the presumptive Democratic nominee for the 18th Middlesex District seat and Lyons' likely opponent in November, says she can't support the Lyons' resolution and says the legal system already has effective checks and balances.
"I'm an attorney and there have been many times I haven't agreed with a judge's decision," said Nguyen. "There is an appeals process, you can appeal a decision. Judges are going to make some unpopular decisions and they have to be free to do that."

36th Middlesex District
Candidates in the 36th Middlesex District, which includes Dracut and Tyngsboro, were divided on the issue. State Rep. Colleen Garry, D-Dracut, said she would be supporting the resolution.
"I think this judge has gone beyond his judicial discretion when he worries about a criminals immigration status instead of his crimes of making money off of addicts," said Garry. "We are fighting this terrible opioid epidemic and he is more worried about the drug dealer's future rather than those addicted to this deadly poison. He needs to be removed from the bench!"
Garry's opponent in the September Democratic Primary, said she believes impeachment is an overreach and endangers the separation of powers.
"I can’t support that (resolution)," said Dracut Democrat Sabrina Heisey. "There is a reason we have a judicial system separate from a legislative system. Respect the process."
Ray Leczynski, a Dracut Republican, said he "absolutely" supports Rep. Lyons' resolution and is appalled by Judge Feeney's actions on the bench.
"I feel the opioid/heroin problem is the single biggest threat to our society today. These drug dealers need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent," said Leczynski. "And if being found guilty of dealing heroin results in deportation, so be it. Feeley calls it a 'money crime.'  Disgraceful. This is a crime that steals people's lives. And let's not forget if it wasn't for Feeley, Maine Deputy Eugene Cole would probably be alive today. Feeley and his ilk need to go!"

19th Middlesex District
Candidates in the 19th Middlesex District, who are seeking to succeed the late state Rep. Jim Miceli, said they agree with Lyons' resolution and would support it if they were serving on Beacon Hill.
“Judge Feeley has time and time again released violent criminals onto the streets to endanger our families and communities,” said Tewksbury Republican Pina Prinzivalli. “The latest development of Judge Feeley praising and releasing a career heroin dealer is the final straw. It’s time we start holding judges accountable for their reckless actions and that’s why I’m supporting HD4822. It’s time for Judge Feeley to be removed from the bench. I’ve signed the petition and urge everyone in our community to do the same. It’s time we protect one another from these judges who coddle career criminals.”
"I do support Rep. Lyon’s resolution to impeach Judge Feeley. The people of the Commonwealth are looking for some accountability for our rogue judges," said Tewksbury Republican Erin Buckley. "Feeley literally personifies the behaviors that have made Massachusetts less safe and criminals more confident. The time has come to end unilateral concepts of justice and impulsive leniency."
"Oh, I absolutely support the resolution. Jim (Lyons) and I don't agree on a lot of things, but I totally agree with him on this," said Tewksbury Democrat Mark Kratman, a member of the Board of Selectmen. "This is personal for me. My brother is a police officer in Dade County, Fla. and I have a son that is interested in going into law enforcement. "
"This heart-breaking tragedy absolutely needs to have repercussions, which is why I signed and support Representative Lyon's petition. Selling heroin is not a 'money crime' as Judge Feeley described, and it is ridiculous to compare it to stealing a loaf of bread to feed your family," said Tewksbury Democrat Dave Robertson. "The consistent violent history of this criminal should have been a warning sign; but as we learned with several tragedies, including the murder of Yarmouth Police officer Sean Gannon, that some judges are ignoring the dangerous histories and releasing some individuals into the public. What is clear here is that increased checks and balances on the judicial branch are needed, so that cases like this can be reviewed and accountability be administered. Whether this is through the Governor's Council, or by a supermajority vote in the legislature, those seated in our courts need an avenue to be reviewed in case of events like this."

Related Story:

Rep. Lyons Files Resolution To Impeach Controversial Judge 

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