IN THE MATTER OF AN APPLICATION FOR A CRIMINAL COMPLAINT.
A. Ames for the petitioner.
Douglas I. Louison for the respondent.
petitioner appeals from a judgment of the county court
denying her petition for relief under G. L. c. 211, § 3.
We affirm the judgment.
petitioner, who was a Boston police officer, filed an
application for a criminal complaint in the West Roxbury
Division of the Boston Municipal Court (BMC), alleging that
the respondent, her supervisor, committed an assault and
battery against her. The respondent was the commander of the
police station falling within that court's jurisdiction.
After a hearing, a clerk-magistrate denied the application
for lack of probable cause. G. L. c. 218, § 35A. The
petitioner moved for reconsideration and change of venue. The
application was transferred to the Charlestown Division of
the BMC for rehearing by a clerk-magistrate, although it
appears that the application was not docketed until almost
one year later. The petitioner requested that the matter be
transferred out of Suffolk County to Bristol County. That
request was denied. The respondent also requested a new
hearing and change of venue on the ground that he had a
business relationship with all the divisions of the BMC. As a
result, the application was transferred to the Dedham
Division of the District Court Department, nearly three years
after the application was transferred to the Charlestown
Division of the BMC. A clerk-magistrate of that court denied
the application, finding no probable cause. The petitioner
then filed her G. L. c. 211, § 3, petition, seeking both
a rehearing on her application and a broader ruling requiring
that applications for criminal complaints made against police
officers be automatically transferred to a judge outside the
police officer's jurisdiction, rather than being heard by
a clerk-magistrate in the first instance. The single justice
denied relief without a hearing.
review the single justice's denial of relief only to
determine whether there was an abuse of discretion or an
error of law. Marides v. Rossi, 446 Mass. 1007, 1007
(2006), citing Restucci v. Appeals Court, 442 Mass.
1031, 1032 (2004). The petitioner has not demonstrated any
error or abuse of discretion as to either of her claims.
the single justice properly denied the petitioner's
request for a rehearing of her application for a criminal
complaint. It is well established that "a private
citizen lacks a judicially cognizable interest in the
prosecution or nonprosecution of another." Ellis,
petitioner, 460 Mass. 1020, 1020-1021 (2011), quoting
Hagen v. Commonwealth, 437 Mass. 374, 380 (2002).
For this reason, "we have consistently declined to
review, under the authority given to us by G. L. c. 211,
§ 3, refusals to issue complaints." Bradford v.
Knights, 427 Mass. 748, 752 (1998), citing
Tarabolski v. Williams, 419 Mass. 1001, 1002 (1994).
See Victory Distribs., Inc. v. Ayer Div. of the
Dist. Court Dep't, 435 Mass. 136, 141 (2001)
("A private party's rights with respect to the
criminal complaint process are limited to the filing of an
application and court action on that application").
Where a clerk-magistrate denies a private party's
application for a criminal complaint, the applicant's
recourse is to request rehearing by a judge in the same
court. See Bradford, supra at 752-753
(judges of BMC have inherent authority to rehear denial of
application for criminal complaint). See also
Commonwealth v. DiBennadetto, 436 Mass. 310, 313
(2002) ("by implication, " judges of District Court
have same authority). Here, the petitioner filed her
application, and the BMC, and then the District Court, acted
on it. She has no standing to obtain extraordinary relief in
the single justice did not abuse her discretion by denying
the petitioner's request for an absolute rule requiring
any complaint against a police officer to be heard by a judge
outside the officer's jurisdiction. The petitioner has
not demonstrated that the existing criminal complaint
procedure raises an issue of systemic concern requiring the
exercise of general superintendence powers. Cf. Bridgeman
v. District Att'y for the Suffolk Dist., 471 Mass.
465, 474-475 (2015), S_.C., 476 Mass. 298 (2017) (misconduct
of widespread magnitude at drug laboratory required exercise
of superintendent powers for protection of defendants
convicted of drug offenses). The petitioner argues that,
because police officers frequently appear before
clerk-magistrates to apply for search warrants, arrest
warrants, and criminal complaints, and otherwise interact
frequently with clerk-magistrates, there is a close working
relationship between them. This relationship, she argues,
necessarily gives rise to a conflict of interest when the
clerk-magistrate must decide whether to issue a criminal
complaint against a police officer. The petitioner has not
substantiated her claim of systemic bias in favor of police
officers. Moreover, existing procedural safeguards, including
rehearing by a judge, are adequate to ensure fair
consideration where the accused is a police
officer. In these circumstances, the petitioner was
not entitled to extraordinary relief.
 The nearly three-year delay in the
Charlestown Division of the Boston Municipal Court Department
is unacceptable. There is no excuse for this period of delay
in any case scheduled for a clerk-magistrate's hearing.
See G. L. c. 218, § 35A. The delay in this case is
particularly troubling. The parties and the community are not
just entitled to a fair and just adjudication of this matter.
The perception of justice must also be scrupulously
protected. Here, it was not. As a result, no matter how just
the result in this case may be, to the petitioner and perhaps
others, justice is tainted by the delay.
 It does not appear that the petitioner
requested rehearing by a judge in the Dedham Division of the
District Court Department before filing her G. L. c. 211,
§ 3, petition. The respondent suggests that she could
still do so. Nothing we say today is intended to deprive her
of the opportunity to request rehearing by a District Court
 The District Court has written
standards urging clerk-magistrates to give "strong
consideration ... to asking the Regional Administrative
Justice either to transfer the matter to another division or
to assign a magistrate from another division" where an
application is filed against a police officer employed in the
same jurisdiction. Standard 3:02 of the District Court
Standards of Judicial Practice: The Complaint Procedure
(2008). To our knowledge, the BMC does not have analogous