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Jailed House rep. called before disciplinary panel

State Representative Carlos Henriquez was handcuffed after being sentenced.

Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

State Representative Carlos Henriquez was handcuffed after being sentenced.

The Massachusetts House of Representatives took the extraordinary step Thursday of summoning one of its members before a disciplinary panel as he serves a six-month sentence for assault, calling Representative Carlos Henriquez before the Ethics Committee as early as Friday.

Thursday’s move sets up the potential for a dramatic scene on Beacon Hill: a state lawmaker returning to the State House in handcuffs as a prisoner serving time. House leaders are hoping to force Henriquez to resign, but say they would move to expel him from the body if he does not.

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During a sparsely attended session Thursday, the House adopted an order giving its Ethics Committee the power to issue a writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum. The order does not mention Henriquez by name, but a State House source who spoke on the condition of anonymity said it empowers the House to bring the convicted lawmaker before his colleagues to testify.

While the House took a formal step to pressure Henriquez to resign, a growing chorus of the lawmaker’s allies and friends called for him to step down.

The Dorchester Democrat was convicted and sentenced last week on two counts of assault and battery against an Arlington woman he had been dating, stemming from a July 2012 incident.

Henriquez’s sentence expires in July, raising a scenario in which he could stand for reelection in September. According to Secretary of State William F. Galvin’s office, Henriquez would be eligible for the ballot if he is not in jail.

Stephanie Soriano-Mills, Henriquez’s attorney, said she had not spoken to her client for several days but on Thursday she notified Cambridge District Court that she intended to appeal the conviction. Soriano-Mills said she is carefully studying the rules of the House Committee on Ethics so Henriquez understands his rights.

“He maintains his innocence,” Soriano-Mills said. “He needs to know all the rules and pieces to make the decision he needs to make.”

Soriano-Mills said she planned to speak with Henriquez in the House of Correction Thursday night or Friday morning and was not aware if he had made a decision about staying in office.

“I don’t even know how much he knows,” Soriano-Mills said. “His focus is really on his constituents and the House being able to go back to business as usual.”

Middlesex County prosecutors said that Henriquez drove to Arlington on July 8, 2012, to pick up Katherine Gonzalves and assaulted her inside the car, snatched her cellphone, and drove to Boston. There, prosecutors said, Gonzalves jumped out of the car and received assistance from Boston and Northeastern University police.

While convicting Henriquez on two assault charges, a jury acquitted him on a third assault charge, one count of witness intimidation, and one count of larceny under $250.

Following his conviction on Jan. 15, the second-term lawmaker was promptly sentenced to 2½ years in the Middlesex County House of Correction, with six months to be served behind bars.

Almost immediately, Governor Deval Patrick, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, and Mayor Martin J. Walsh of Boston called for Henriquez to resign, and DeLeo said the House would move to expel him if he did not quit.

On Jan. 16, the House authorized the Ethics Committee to subpoena Henriquez, the first step in a process that could result in Henriquez’s expulsion from the body.

A DeLeo spokesman declined to comment on Thursday’s development.

Boston city councilor Tito Jackson, who had long stood by Henriquez, called Thursday for him to resign.

“I think it is in the best interest of his constituents and the community that Carlos resign,” Jackson said.

When Henriquez was initially arrested, Jackson, whose district overlaps with Henriquez’s, went to the police station. At the time, he described Henriquez as a dedicated public servant who deserved “due process in light of the very serious nature of these charges.”

Henriquez remained an active political figure in Boston after his July 2012 arrest. He was reelected that November with almost 78 percent of the vote and remained a ubiquitous presence at political events with other elected officials. There was almost no discussion of the charges and his looming trial.

Last year while he faced charges, Henriquez continued to play a role in Boston’s mayoral race. In the preliminary election, Henriquez endorsed former School Committee member John F. Barros, who finished sixth.

In the final election, Henriquez endorsed Walsh, appearing with him at a press conference in October in Grove Hall. Henriquez helped lead door-to-door canvassing efforts for Walsh and was an aggressive surrogate for his campaign on social media.

In an e-mail Thursday, a Walsh spokeswoman said: “When the mayor accepted the endorsement of Carlos Henriquez, [Henriquez] was facing alleged crimes and had not been convicted.”

After the election, Walsh named Henriquez to his transition team, where he was one of 20 members of a group working on public health policy. Henriquez’s name remained on the transition website until a Globe reporter asked Walsh about it Wednesday.

“We haven’t taken his name off of the transition, but I think it’s pretty clear,” Walsh said. “He was found guilty in the court of law by a jury of his peers, and it’s unfortunate, the incident that happened.”

A State House source said Henriquez could appear before the Ethics Committee Friday. Standard procedures for transporting sentenced inmates call for handcuffs and escorts by deputy sheriffs.

Several times in recent years, Beacon Hill lawmakers have initially resisted calls for their resignations after criminal wrongdoing but ultimately relented when confronted with expulsion.

The last state lawmaker expelled from either chamber, an action that requires a full membership vote, was Joseph DiCarlo, a Revere Democrat convicted of extortion and conspiracy who was drummed out of the Senate in 1977.

According to the House clerk’s office, research indicated that the last House lawmaker to be expelled was probably Frank J. Gethro, a Boston Democrat whom colleagues voted out in 1906 amid bribery charges.

The Ethics Committee is currently led by its vice chairman, Lowell Democrat David Nangle. Walsh was the committee’s chairman before taking over as mayor of Boston.

Joshua Miller contributed. Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at Jim.OSullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JOSreports. Andrew Ryan can be reached at Andrew.Ryan@globe.com.
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