House ethics committee given power to take witnesses into custody
Jan. 23, 2014
The House on Thursday raised the possibility of Rep. Carlos Henriquez returning to Beacon Hill to testify in his own defense, approving an order that empowers a House panel to take witnesses into custody as its lays the groundwork for hearings to consider Henriquez’s expulsion from the House or other disciplinary action.
The order, okayed in a lightly attended session, gives Ethics Committee Vice-Chairman Rep. David Nangle the power to issue a “writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum” to secure the attendance of material witnesses in connection with its investigation of a complaint received on Jan. 15, the day Henriquez was convicted of two assault and battery charges stemming from a domestic violence incident last summer.
Nangle was also granted the power to direct the House sergeant-at-arms or the chief general court officer or his assistant to take custody of and secure a witness appearing before the Ethics Committee.
The House last week granted the Ethics Committee subpoena power for its investigation, but the new step appears designed to compel an inmate – in this case Henriquez – to appear before his colleagues on the Ethics Committee as they consider disciplinary action.
Rep. Paul Donato, who presided over the informal session where the House adopted the order, said he could not discuss the matter because he sits on the Ethics Committee.
While subpoena powers were given to the committee through the end of January, the power to take a witness into custody for the purpose of testifying was granted through Feb. 28.
Henriquez has resisted calls from House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Gov. Deval Patrick and others to resign.
An aide to Speaker DeLeo declined comment Thursday about next steps in the case of Henriquez, whose attorney on Thursday filed a notice of appeal of the jury's verdict.
Henriquez was led to jail immediately following his conviction, ordered to serve six months of a two-and-a-half-year sentence.