NAACP asks House not to expel convicted Rep. Carlos Henriquez

Rep. Carlos Henriquez is facing expulsion after his conviction of assault and battery. Photo: State House News Service
Rep. Carlos Henriquez is facing expulsion from the state House after his conviction of assault and battery. Credit: State House News Service

A prominent civil rights group has asked Massachusetts House members not to take up a resolution that would expel Rep. Carlos Henriquez from the chamber, and to vote against it if they do take it up on Thursday afternoon.

Henriquez is serving a six-month sentence in Billerica after being convicted Jan. 15 on two counts of assault and battery, and has sought a leave of absence from his job representing his Dorchester-based district. The House is prepared to take up a measure Thursday that would expel Henriquez, after the committee voted 9-1 that the allegations against him have merit and unanimously voted to remove him from office.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People New England Area Conference has asked the House to “abstain” from taking up the expulsion effort or, alternatively, to vote against the House Ethics Committee’s recommendation, which was released Tuesday night in a 20-page report. Henriquez was convicted by a jury and immediately sentenced for attacking a woman in the back seat of a car.

“The House of Representatives must respect the Massachusetts judicial process and let Representative Henriquez’s case before the Appeals Court proceed, without jumping to judgment before the appellate decision is rendered,” NAACP New England President Juan Cofield wrote in a Feb. 6 open letter to members of the House. “Secondly, while NEAC respects the jury’s decision, there is currently no rule for expulsion that applies to misdemeanor convictions.

“Representative Henriquez was duly elected by the electorate and there is no legal basis upon which the House of Representatives can properly act.”

The letter was sent to members by Henriquez’s aide. On Wednesday, appearing on NECN, Henriquez’s attorney Stephanie Soriano-Mills suggested the expulsion effort had been preordained by Speaker Robert DeLeo, who was among a small group of lawmakers who called for Henriquez to resign on the day he was convicted.

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