BOSTON (MyFoxBoston.com/AP) -- The New England Area Conference of the NAACP is asking Massachusetts lawmakers to delay expulsion hearings for Rep. Carlos Henriquez.
The state House of Representatives is expected to debate a recommendation from the Ethics Committee that called for the expulsion of 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.
FOX 25 obtained a letter sent to state representatives from the NEAC Thursday that calls the matter of expulsion premature because the case is under appeal. It asks for lawmakers to abstain from voting or to vote against it.
They add that delaying any decision would allow for a "fair process to take place, as required under the law."
"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," reads the letter in-part.
The organization's letter goes on to say there is "currently no rule for expulsion" in 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," wrote the NEAC.
A report filed Tuesday night after weeks of secretive deliberations 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.
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.
Full letter from the NEAC:
The NAACP, New England Area Conference (NEAC), respectfully requests that the Massachusetts House of Representatives abstain from voting in the matter of the expulsion of Representative Carlos Henriquez, expected to come before the House today. In the alternative, Members of the House are asked to vote against the expulsion of their colleague.
There are two basis on which NEAC makes the request. Firstly, the matter of expulsion is premature since Representative Henriquez's case is under appeal. 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.
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.
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. Reasonable citizens of the Commonwealth respect the decision of a just jury trial and they also expect a fair and reasoned decision by the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Juan M. Cofield
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