Massachusetts Court Rulings Lead to Reconsideration of Thousands of Criminal Cases

 Posted on August 15,2023 in Criminal Law

Untitled---2023-08-15T111355.059.jpgIn the United States, many people have lost faith in the criminal justice system. Defendants face a number of obstacles as they respond to criminal charges against them, and they are often treated unfairly as prosecutors use inappropriate tactics to secure convictions. Police officers may also engage in illegal or unethical practices to obtain evidence or secure confessions, which can lead to wrongful convictions. Due to systemic biases, minorities are especially likely to be affected by these issues, and this has led to disproportionate arrest and conviction rates for these defendants.

Fortunately, progress is being made by criminal justice advocates who fight against unfair and illegal practices by law enforcement officials, prosecutors, and others who play a role in criminal cases. In recent years, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has issued decisions that have allowed for the reconsideration of many criminal convictions. This shows that it is possible to fight unfairness in the justice system and ensure that the rights of defendants can be upheld.

Mass Exonerations and Other Consequential Rulings

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which is the highest appellate court in the state, has reviewed several cases in which defendants were wrongfully convicted, subjected to unfair treatment, or had their rights violated. It has issued several rulings that have affected tens of thousands of people, including:

  • In 2017, the court reviewed cases in which a chemist at a state drug lab tampered with evidence. Based on this misconduct, the court ordered the dismissal of 36,000 wrongful convictions in 21,000 cases involving drug crimes.

  • In 2018, the court reviewed other cases involving evidence tampering at a separate drug lab, and it ordered the dismissal of an additional 24,000 convictions in 16,000 cases.

  • In April of 2023, the court reviewed cases in which people had been convicted of DUI after police officers used breathalyzers that were not calibrated correctly. While the court did not order the dismissal of convictions, its ruling has made it easier for defendants who were affected by this issue to request new trials.

  • In June of 2023, the court ruled that a defendant should receive a new trial because his case was affected by the racism of his attorney. The defendant was Black and Muslim, and his attorney had posted a number of messages on Facebook that disparaged these types of minorities. The court found that this created a conflict of interest that affected the outcome of the case. This ruling could potentially affect around 6,000 other clients that the attorney had represented.

These rulings and additional cases that may soon be considered by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will help many defendants in the state address violations of their rights and unfair treatment. However, these issues are not limited to Massachusetts, and courts in several other states have also addressed similar issues. Courts in Pennsylvania and Maryland have issued mass exonerations in cases where police officers planted drugs on defendants, falsified reports, and engaged in other forms of misconduct. States such as New York, Illinois, and Washington have also taken steps to address concerns about large-scale violations of defendants’ rights.

Contact Our Connecticut Criminal Defense Lawyer

While work is being done to address unfairness in the justice system, many defendants still struggle to protect their rights, address unethical practices by law enforcement, and defend against wrongful convictions. For those who are facing criminal charges, skilled legal representation is crucial. At Woolf Law Firm, LLC, our Hartford criminal defense attorney can ensure that defendants’ rights will be protected, and we will work to address misconduct by police officers or prosecutors during a criminal case. To learn how we can help defend against criminal charges, contact us today at 860-290-8690 and arrange a free consultation.



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