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Mass. Superior Court judge charged with domestic assault

A Massachusetts Superior Court judge was arraigned on a domestic assault charge Monday after authorities alleged she pulled her wife’s head back by the hair Sunday night.

Shannon Frison, 49, was charged with assault and battery on a household or family member, according to the Middlesex district attorney’s office.

Frison, who lives in Hudson, was released on personal recognizance and ordered to have no contact with her wife. She was placed on paid administrative leave, a Trial Court spokeswoman said.

On Sunday evening around 7:30, Hudson police received a report of a possible argument between two women near the corner of Chestnut and Brook streets. When they arrived, officers saw Frison’s wife walking in the street and learned that Frison “had allegedly assaulted the victim and driven off in her motor vehicle,” prosecutors said in a statement.


According to a police report, Frison’s wife told police she was holding the couple’s 4-year-old daughter when Frison pulled into a Brook Street driveway and ran up to her and “began screaming at her in the front door area.”

Frison’s wife told police that Frison grabbed the back of her hair with her hand “and with a strong amount of force” ripped her head back, police said. She told police she and Frison had been having “a tough marriage recently.”

The wife tried to drive away but her car was blocked by Frison’s silver BMW, police said. When she walked away down Brook Street, Frison followed in her car, the wife told police. She got out of the car to scream at her, then jumped back in and sped off, police said. Frison refused to speak to a police officer when he asked about what happened, police said. After she was handcuffed, she yelled “I’m a superior judge, you can’t arrest me, let me go,” police said.


Police notified the state’s Department of Children and Families, which said it is investigating the incident.

Frison’s lawyer, William H. Kettlewell, said in a statement that Frison denies the accusations and “hopes for a speedy resolution in court.”

“Judge Frison and her wife are disappointed that a private matter between them has resulted in the filing of criminal charges for domestic assault against Judge Frison,” he said. “The couple understands from the police report that a passerby contacted police without speaking to them and without knowledge of the situation between them.”

The couple “looks forward to putting this unfortunate matter behind them and moving forward as a family,” he said.

Police seized two guns from the home. Frison was licensed to carry firearms.

Under the judge’s order, Frison must be accompanied by a police officer if she wants to retrieve personal belongings from her home. She is due back in court Oct. 10.

A Harvard University graduate and a former officer and lawyer in the Marine Corps, Frison was appointed to the bench in 2009 and became a Superior Court judge in 2013. Before her appointment, her practice focused on “blue collar” criminal law and military justice, according to the National LGBT Bar Association. She holds the rank of major in the US Marine Corps, and is a Marine Corps Judge Advocate, according to a biography posted on the group’s website.

Defense attorney Terry Kennedy, a member of the Governor’s Council, which votes on nominees to the state judiciary, described Frison as a well-respected judge who “tries to do the right thing all the time.”

“She’s very thoughtful and courteous to everyone who comes before her,” he said. “She looks at her job as not just to punish but to rehabilitate people. She was ahead of the curve on that.”

“She’s entitled to her day in court,” he added. “Even a judge has the presumption of innocence.”

Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald
. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.