Judge Bans Uniformed Officers From Courtroom

Worcester Superior Court Judge Janet Kenton-Walker said her decision was "not made in disrespect."

Worcester, MA – Dozens of uniformed Massachusetts State Police (MSP) troopers were banned from entering the courtroom to witness the verdict of a suspect accused of killing a fellow law enforcement officer.

MSP Trooper Thomas Clardy, a 44-year-old married father of seven, died in the line of duty during a traffic stop in Charlton on Mar. 16, 2016, the Worcester Patch reported.

While the trooper was out conducting a traffic stop, David Njuguna, 33, swerved across three lanes of traffic at speeds of 80 miles per hour, and slammed into Trooper Clardy’s patrol SUV.

The force of the crash launched the patrol vehicle down an embankment.

Trooper Clardy was rushed to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page.

The U.S. Marine Corps veteran was also an 11-year veteran of MSP.

According to prosecutors, Njuguna was under the influence of marijuana at the time of the deadly crash, the Worcester Patch reported.

Witnesses also said they saw Njuguna tailgating, speeding, and changing lanes without signaling just moments before the collision.

His attorneys claimed that he suffered a seizure moments before the crash.

Njuguna was ultimately charged with operating to endanger, operating an uninsured vehicle, operating under the influence (OUI) manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, felony motor vehicle homicide, and misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide, the Worcester Patch reported.

Worcester Superior Court Judge Janet Kenton-Walker banned uniformed MSP troopers from being present in the courtroom when she handed down her verdict on Tuesday, according to the Boston Herald.

“This court is a neutral place and impartial at all times,” Kenton-Walker said. “The neutrality must be embodied in the courtroom itself…to a fair and impartial trial and a neutral tribunal.”

She said her decision to ban uniformed officers was “not made in disrespect,” according to the Boston Herald.

Several troopers gathered around a phone to hear the judge’s verdict.

They then lined up and stood at attention as Trooper Clardy’s widow and children exited the courtroom, the Boston Herald reported.

Kenton-Walker convicted Njuguna on four of the counts, but found him not guilty of OIS manslaughter and felony motor vehicle homicide, according to the Worcester Patch.

"The fact that Njuguna consumed some [marijuana] before the crash does not prove he was intoxicated or his ability to operate was impaired," the judge declared.

She also rejected his claim that the crash was the result of a medical issue.

“This was not an accident,” Kenton-Walker said, according to the Boston Globe. “Mr. Njuguna’s conduct was intentional. His conduct was wanton and reckless.”

His sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 21, the Worcester Patch reported.

MSP Superintendent Colonel Kerry Gilpin released a statement following the judge’s ruling.

“While today’s verdict ends the criminal proceedings related to Trooper Thomas Clardy’s line-of-duty death, it does not end the pain or restore the loss that Tom’s wife and children, and his parents and other loved ones, still, and always will, endure,” Col. Gilpin wrote, according to the Boston Herald. “Our thoughts, first and foremost, are with them today, as they have been since the terrible events of March 16, 2016.”

Col. Gilpin praised the prosecutors and law enforcement officers who painstakingly worked on the case over the past three years.

“Trooper Clardy could not have asked for a better team to speak for him,” she continued. “Today I am also mindful of, grateful for, and touched by the actions of all of the Troopers and other first responders who raced to Tom’s aid on that fateful day. I am thankful, too, for the civilian witnesses who assisted in the aftermath of the crash and who provided important testimony at trial.”

“There always will be an empty seat at the Clardy’s table, and a hole in the hearts of the Massachusetts State Police,” Col. Gilpin added. “This verdict cannot bring Trooper Clardy back to his family, friends, and colleagues, but it does provide some sense of justice by holding the defendant accountable for his actions that day.”

Comments (66)
No. 1-26
MSK
MSK

I guess we should at least be thankful the judge convicted him on three counts instead of just a slap on the wrist.

Pack
Pack

In all honesty she may have prevented an appeal for that. Just saying

MIke282
MIke282

Maybe this Judge should allow the family of the deceased to feel comforted by the presence of the other family that their loved one served with. The trial was his neutral and fair grounds. The sentencing was the closure that the family needed and the judge had no right to exclude them. Our courts are open for all, and prejudiced Judges have no place there.

sturnman22
sturnman22

The Supt. should have taken the Judge apart for disrespecting the uniform and badge he died wearing. Have never heard of such a thing.

Tootsiesmom
Tootsiesmom

Those officers have every right to be there.

Just-My-Thoughts.
Just-My-Thoughts.

Suspect under the influence of marijuana...Great. I wonder why those in charge want to allow states to allow the use of recreational marijuana when it can have this type of effect on the public........pretty dumb. The judge put him in jail but her disrespect and show of "no heart" for his family means she should be disbarred.

John Chapman
John Chapman

I'm surprised that I'm not outraged by this. I actually can see the Judge's opinion and see some....some merit in it. I'd tell the LEO's that want to show up to support the family to be there. Show up in a suit and tie in a white shirt. Let them see who you are and what you represent even while out of uniform.

Vodkabreakfast
Vodkabreakfast

Uses the word “impartial” - demonstrates a bias. Pfffffff! His widow and seven fatherless children deserved to know his comrades were there in Blue - like he wore. She was signalling and everyone knows it. The verdict was already in. Bitch.

Jim H. - Virginia US
Jim H. - Virginia US

Judge Janet Kenton-Walker gives attempted child rapist probation

oseph Sacramone was found guilty last month by a jury of his peers in Lowell Superior Court of attempting to rape a 19-month-old child.

How many years in jail do you suppose the 45-year-old Ayer resident received at his sentencing this week? Ten? Fifteen? The rest of his time on the planet?

Try none.

After the jury delivered the verdict, Judge Janet Kenton-Walker handed down the sentence: Ten years of probation, during which, she sternly told Sacramone, he must submit to random alcohol screens, register with the Sex Offender Registry, abide by a restraining order, wear a GPS bracelet, and a few other really, really stressful conditions that I sure hope Mr. Sacramone can handle because, you know, we certainly wouldn’t want to put him out or make him feel too bad about himself...

Bonneville Kid
Bonneville Kid

A courtroom is a public place and as long as someone is following the rules of the court and not dressed poorly, stinky or with some crazy saying on a shirt they should be welcomed inside. I worked in LE for 40 years and spent many years working a courtroom and testifying on cases. I have never heard of a judge not allowing uniformed officers to sit in on a verdict. This sounds like it was a bench trial (no jury) and she was announcing her verdict that she had already come to, there would be no grounds to appeal just based on who was present in the courtroom. I can write a book on what I have seen happen in a courtroom!

tonymartin3
tonymartin3

I can understand that it was wise not to appear intimidating to the jury as some unscrupulous lawyers would seize on that. But he was guilty of involuntary manslaughter! That holds true, whether he had taken Weed or not. Being high, or drunk, does not absolve anyone of guilt, unless someone has forced the convicted to consume it! We all decide whether to ingest or not!

RetiredCorrections
RetiredCorrections

Verdict was in , shouldn’t have been a issue, but maybe as others have pointed out, didn’t want a defense attorney having any grounds to say she was bias , I think it was BS , but in the end her courtroom, her rules.

IseeWhereThisIsGoing
IseeWhereThisIsGoing

And here I was thinking family members were permitted to be in the courtroom when the verdict was announced... apparently those rules don't apply in Judge Janet Kenton-Walker's courtroom...

Burgers Allday
Burgers Allday

Good job, judge. I have been waiting for judges to start getting the police uniforms (other than bailiffs, of course) out of the courtroom for years now. If the LEO uniforms in the courtroom really are no big deal, then it is no big deal to ban them.

Hdsbomber
Hdsbomber

I’m sure she was an Obama appointed cop hating judge!

tuggingalong
tuggingalong

Apparently the judge has never been stoned. I can’t imagine being high and driving 80 mph in traffic.

Njaz
Njaz

This judge overstepped her authority here, it seems to me. The blood of blue runs deep & their respect for a fellow officers family is touching. What differance does it make to have uniforms in court when the crime speaks for itself?

Jimmy'sFriend
Jimmy'sFriend

This so-called Judge must be an Obama Appointee; she's a Disrespectful, Lying Coward, in My Humble Opinion.

Stanracer
Stanracer

Another female, liberal, bleeding heart, hug-a-thug, so called "judge" hard at work.

Raymelson
Raymelson

This is b,s,judge you need to rethink your decision

SIG220
SIG220

Family in court & Blue is Family

Cop Watch
Cop Watch

good job judge!

MajScallywag
MajScallywag

Communist judges making unilateral unconstitutional decrees.

BanditOne
BanditOne

Another liberal judge ruining the system. I sure she'll allow family members wear pictures of their deceased gang banger brother who was killed during a crime into court but God forbid officers paying respect. Does her bailiff wear an uniform? Everyone should refuse to work in her courtroom.

Retired CO
Retired CO

After the guilty verdict there should be a wrongful death civil suit. At least, this way the POS will be reminded (for a long time) of his errors in judgement.

BCK112458
BCK112458

Sounds like BS . I'd vote her out of office.