State House to consider expulsion of jailed member - WHDH-TV 7News Boston

State House to consider expulsion of jailed member

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BOSTON (AP) - Members of the state House of Representatives faced a historic decision Thursday on whether to expel one of their own colleagues -- something that has not happened in the chamber for nearly a century.
  
The House was scheduled to debate a recommendation from its Ethics Committee that called for the expulsion of Rep. Carlos Henriquez, a Boston Democrat who is serving a six-month jail sentence after being convicted last month of assaulting a former girlfriend in July 2012.
  
Henriquez has resisted calls for his resignation from House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Gov. Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, among others. He continues to maintain his innocence and has questioned the fairness of his trial and sentence.
  
Rules established for Thursday's debate allow Henriquez to attend and address the House, but he cannot vote and must leave the chamber before a vote is taken. A simple majority is needed for expulsion.
  
After weeks of secretive deliberations, the Ethics committee filed a report Tuesday night that found Henriquez violated a key House ethics rule and shouldn't be allowed to keep his seat.
  
Henriquez's attorney, Stephanie Soriano-Mills, said the rule as written is meant to apply to questionable financial transactions, not the current case. But the panel said in the report that the circumstances warrant the harsh punishment.
  
"Representative Henriquez's obligation to serve six months in a house of correction substantially conflicts with and substantially impairs his independence of judgment," the committee wrote.
  
The panel also said a request by Henriquez that he be granted a six-month leave of absence while serving his sentence was incompatible with House rules or the state constitution.
  
The last time a member of the House was expelled was in 1916, when Rep. Harry Foster was dismissed after an investigation found he "collected money from people interested in legislation now pending," according to House records.
  
Henriquez, in a statement posted Wednesday on his Twitter account, said he was not guilty of assault and that he never committed domestic violence.
  
"I was initially saddened by how quickly some members of my community devalued, discarded and disposed of me, as soon as the jury reached its verdict," he said in the statement.
  
"What concerns me most is that if the community will do that to me, what chance do the poorer, less educated, or addicted black, Latino, white and Asian men and women have of returning home, needing a second chance to get back on their feet," he added.
  
He also said the all-white makeup of the Cambridge District Court jury raised questions about the fairness of his trial. Henriquez was convicted of two assault charges and acquitted of three other charges in the case.
  
The New England NAACP, in a statement Thursday morning, asked the House not to vote to expel Henriquez, citing his ongoing appeal. The organization also said it did not believe House rules allowed for a member to be expelled due to misdemeanor convictions.
  
"Delaying any decision on the House Ethics Committee's recommendation at this time would allow for a fair process to take place, as required under the law," the NAACP said.
  
The House was scheduled to convene early Thursday afternoon, following a private caucus among Democratic members.

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