Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter resigned Friday morning three days after taking over as mayor of Fall River, and Gov. Deval Patrick announced he has appointed Sutter's top deputy Thomas Quinn III as acting district attorney.
Sutter was elected mayor of Fall River in a recall election in December, replacing Will Flanagan. Quinn's appointment by Patrick, if it stands, will run through the next biennial election when the Bristol district attorney position will be on the ballot in November 2016.
Governor-elect Charlie Baker will have the authority to replace Quinn at any time, according to the governor's office. Sutter was re-elected district attorney in November. Because Sutter's current term expires next week and he was elected to another four-year term, Patrick also had to formally reappoint Quinn as acting district attorney starting Jan. 7.
“I am making this appointment now to assure the stability of the critical work of the office and fully respect the authority of the incoming Governor to make his own appointment in due course," Patrick said in a statement. Dozens of employees within the Bristol DA's office backed Quinn's appointment in a letter to Patrick on Dec. 23.
Quinn lives in Fall River and has 16 years of experience in the Bristol prosecutor's office. From 1997 to 2007 Quinn worked in private practice and represented indigent clients through the Committee for Public Counsel Services.
Quinn is the first assistant district attorney under Sutter and was the recipient of the Fall River Diocese's Saint Thomas Moore award in 2013 for his legal work. Quinn has tried "well over 100 cases," according to Patrick's office, and as first assistant district attorney has overseen the DA's cases in Superior Court.