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Scituate officials claim success as July 3 bonfire dispute is resolved

Posted by Jessica Bartlett  September 26, 2012 02:30 PM

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Scituate officials are claiming success after resolving a dispute with a Humarock resident who was charged with disorderly conduct during a confrontation over bonfire regulations on July 3.

According to the Clerk’s Office at Hingham District Court, 70-year-old Michael Joyce had his criminal charge of disorderly conduct amended to a civil infraction during a pre-trial conference on Sept. 19.

The prosecution and defendant agreed that Joyce would be found responsible for the incident and be fined $50, court officials said.

According to police reports, Joyce was initially charged after an officer was escorting a front-end loader onto the beach to dismantle stacked wood that had been piled there on July 3. The stacking of wood was prohibited as part of a bonfire ban that was approved in June.

The officer allegedly encountered 75-100 people at the opening of Ocean Front Street standing in front of the loader to prevent it from getting on the beach, with Joyce among them, the police report states.

Joyce allegedly refused to move and eventually turned his back to officers who were requesting him to do so. As a result, he was grabbed by officers, who put Joyce’s hands behind his back and began to move him away from the crowd, the report said.

According to the report, Joyce was yelling at officers during the arrest and was non- compliant. A state trooper then came over to assist in the arrest. After ordering Joyce onto his knees three times so that he could be handcuffed, Joyce was forced to his knees and handcuffed, police said.

Joyce’s attorney, Michael Judge, said his client did not need to admit to the account in the police report - a point of contention between both parties - in order to resolve the confrontation.

“There is nothing criminal so there is nothing to be admitted or denied or anything like that, so the case is over,” Judge said.

According to Judge, Joyce is just happy to have the case behind him.

“He’s almost 71-years-old with no criminal record; $50 is the least of his concern. He wants to go home and enjoy his retirement peacefully,” Judge said.

Although the attorney said Joyce does not admit what occurred in the report, town officials see the resolution as a success.

“Mr. Joyce took responsibility for his actions that night, which he was charged and he paid a fine to have those charges resolved,” Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi said.

Vinchesi continued that the town was ready to move on from the instance and prepared to enforce a similar ban next year.

Now that all the information about the incident has been made public, Vinchesi said, the evidence shows “the town acted appropriately and responsibly and will continue with the ban for next year. We will certainly begin that education process earlier, but again, it validated the action we took for the safety of all of our citizens and those of the general public.”

Of the five people arrested on charges of disorderly conduct that night, two of the cases have yet to be resolved.

According to Hingham District Court, 68-year-old Jack Kwesell will be arraigned on Sept. 27. Seventeen-year-old Matthew Proctor will face arraignment on Oct. 10

Fourty-eight-year-old William Shea paid $150 to have his charges dismissed soon after the incident occurred.

In addition, 30-year-old Michael Shea, also paid a $50 fine and was found responsible on Sept. 19 after the criminal charge of disorderly conduct was reduced to a civil infraction.

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