Aldrich v. Clerk-Magistrate

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Justia Opinion Summary

This matter arose from an application filed by Plaintiff in the Somerville division of the district court department for a criminal complaint against a police officer. The first assistant clerk of the court denied the application and referred the matter to the district attorney. A district court denied Plaintiff's request for a hearing to review the action. Plaintiff then filed a petition seeking an order compelling the clerk-magistrate of the district court to conduct a show cause hearing and issue a criminal complaint. The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment, holding that Plaintiff had no right to a show cause hearing on such an application and no right to have a criminal complaint authorized.

Robert ALDRICH vs. CLERK-MAGISTRATE OF THE SOMERVILLE DIVISION OF THE DISTRICT COURT DEPARTMENT.
SJC-10945.
October 11, 2012.
Supreme Judicial Court, Appeal from order of single justice. Mandamus. District Court, Clerk-Magistrate. Practice, Civil, Action in nature of mandamus.
 
Robert Aldrich, pro se.
 
Natassia Kelly, Assistant Attorney General, for the defendant.
 
RESCRIPT.
 
Robert Aldrich appeals from a judgment of a single justice of this court denying his petition for relief in the nature of mandamus brought under G.L. c. 249, § 5. We affirm.
 
This matter arises from an application filed by Aldrich in the Somerville Division of the District Court Department for a criminal complaint against a Cambridge police officer. The first assistant clerk of the court denied the application and referred the matter to the Middlesex County district attorney. Aldrich sought review of that action before a judge and requested a hearing. See Standard 3:21 of the District Court Standards of Judicial Practice: The Complaint Procedure (2008). The judge denied the request for a hearing without prejudice pending the district attorney's review. Aldrich then filed a petition under G.L. c. 249, § 5, in the county court, seeking an order compelling the clerk-magistrate of the District Court to conduct a show cause hearing and issue a criminal complaint.
 
It is well-settled that "the denial of [an application for] a [criminal] complaint creates no judicially cognizable wrong." Bradford v. Knights, 427 Mass. 748, 751 (1998). A private individual simply has no constitutional or statutory right to challenge the denial of an application for a complaint, whether in a mandamus action or otherwise. See Victory Distribs., Inc. v. Ayer Div. of the Dist. Court Dep't, 435 Mass. 136, 141 (2001). Aldrich's rights as a complainant were limited: he was only entitled to file an application for a complaint, which he did, and to have the District Court act on the application, which it did by denying the application and referring the matter to the district attorney's office. See Scott v. Dedham Div. of the Dist. Court Dep't, 436 Mass. 1004, 1005 (2002), and cases cited. See also Standard 3:00 of the District Court Standards of Judicial Practice, supra ("Any individual is entitled to file an application for criminal complaint and to have a magistrate act on it. However, a private party has no right to a show cause hearing on such an application, no right to have a criminal complaint authorized, and no right to appeal its denial").
 
Judgment affirmed.
 
The case was submitted on briefs.
 
END OF DOCUMENT