Trooper’s Arrest Underscores Problems with Domestic Violence Secrecy Law

On Aug. 8, Gov. Patrick signed into law a bill targeting domestic violence in Massachusetts. (Chapter 260 of the Acts of 2014). This comprehensive bill included troubling and confusing provisions that severely restricted the public’s right to know about crimes committed in their communities.

Now, a newspaper reporter’s almost-accidental discovery of the domestic violence arrest of a State Trooper underscores the confusion surrounding this law and the reason why it was bad policy to begin with.

The law closed to the public and the press police reports and police logs pertaining to domestic violence. That means that if a public official or trusted person is the subject of a domestic violence complaint, the public may never know.

Earlier this week, Cape Cod Times reporter Amy Anthony, while routinely reviewing arraignment records at Barnstable District Court, came across a police report that the police say should have been secret under this law.

The report detailed the arrest of a State Trooper on Sunday for charges related to domestic violence. As Anthony’s report describes, there is significant disagreement about whether the arrest should ever have been made public under this new law.

Virtually everyone she spoke to — Sandwich police, State Police, the district attorney, and a sponsor of the bill — had different understandings of the law.

The story illustrates why this aspect law was bad policy to begin with and why it should be repealed.

Read her story here: Massachusetts Domestic Violence Law Leading to Confusion.

Robert J. Ambrogi, Esq.
MNPA Executive Director

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