Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins released a statement last week calling an attempt by four white, male multi-term district attorneys to intervene in a Suffolk Superior Court evidential hearing “misogynistic.”
The case in question regards the 2011 murder of 16-year-old Jaivon Blake in Dorchester by Nyasani Watt, 17, and Sheldon Mattis, 18. Mattis was sentenced to life without parole, and Watt, who was 10 days shy of his 18th birthday, was given life with the possibility of parole after 15 years because of a Supreme Court ruling that found sentences of life without parole for juveniles to be unconstitutional.
The Supreme Judicial Court has upheld Watt's and Mattis’ sentencing, but has called for Suffolk Superior Court to hold an evidential hearing to hear new research about brain development and to discern if “the issue of whether a term of life without the possibility of parole for an individual between the age of 18 and 22-years old violates the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.”
Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, Essex County District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett, Norfolk County District Attorney Michael W. Morrissey and Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz filed a motion to the SJC, asking to call their own witnesses at the evidential hearing. The SJC denied the motion.
Rollins said that the district attorneys' attempt to intervene in a Suffolk County prosecution were “without precedent or legal basis.”
“For the four men to imply that my experienced and able team of Assistant District Attorneys can’t handle an evidentiary hearing is outrageous,” she said in a release following the ruling.
Rollins spoke with Jim Braude on WGBH News' Greater Boston Tuesday about the incident.
"My chief of appeals, that’s a woman; my deputy chief of appeals, that’s a woman; my deputy chief of appeals, that’s a woman; my general counsel, that’s a woman," she said. "We are doing quite fine here. I think there are hate crimes to be investigated into on Nantucket or other things they could be busy doing that they haven’t done for years."
Rollins said if she had been a white man, the other district attorneys would not have gone behind her back and asked to intervene.
“I think they would have picked up the phone and called and said, 'What are you doing, DA So-And-So?'” she said.