Trial, Juvenile, and SORB Representation

Wood & Nathanson represents individuals in many areas related to criminal charges. Recently Wood & Nathanson attorneys became members of the Committee for Public Counsel Services panels for trial representation, juvenile delinquency appeals, and sex offender registry board representation. Attorney Shih will represent adult criminal defendants in Suffolk County trial courts, Attorney Ward will represent people before the SORB, and Attorney Jellison will represent juveniles in appeals from delinquency trials.

Abolish Felony Murder

On April 18, 2017, Attorney Wood and a team from Foley Hoag, LLP filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Judicial Court arguing for the abolition of the felony murder rule. The rule, which holds defendants strictly liable for any death that occurs as a result of a felony they commit, divorces moral culpability from criminal liability. The result in Massachusetts can be life without parole for unintended or accidental killings. The rule is disproportionate, unfair, and should be abandoned. Read the brief here.

Innocence Network Conference

On March 23-26, Attorney Wood accompanied his client Nat Cosenza to the 2017 National Innocence Network Conference in San Diego. The conference gave exonerees a chance to connect to one another for support and to share their experiences so that attorneys and others in the innocence community could better understand how wrongful convictions occur, how to prevent them, and the challenges that exonerees face even after regaining their freedom. An article about Nat's experience at the conference can be found here.

Public Trial Amicus Brief

On March 6, 2017, Attorney Wood and a team of attorneys from Ropes & Gray filed a brief in the Supreme Court on behalf of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers in Weaver v. Massachusetts, No. 16-240. They argue that the Court should not shy away from vindicating the treasured right to a public trial. The government's argument that vindicating the right to a public trial would "open up the floodgates" is both factually incorrect and diverts attention from the real issue: whether our Constitution entitles everyone to a public trial. Read the brief here.

Eyewitness Evidence, Innocence, and a New Life

On February 15, 2017, Attorney Wood and his client Nat Cosenza presented a joint lecture for the Committee for Public Counsel Services on the challenges of presenting a new trial motion based on expert eyewitness identification testimony rejected at trial and on direct appeal but later accepted as accurate information that jurors should have. Nat spoke about the factors that lead to a successful transition from a lengthy period of incarceration to a life of liberty.

Amicus Brief: Particularity Required in Cell Phone Search Warrants

Attorney Wood and a team from Goodwin Procter drafted an amicus brief in Commonwealth v. Keown on behalf of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers advancing the cutting edge argument that, when seeking a warrant to search a cell phone, law enforcement must comply with the Fourth Amendment's requirement to "particularly describ[e] the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." Police should not have carte blanche to sift through people's digital lives. They must limit their searches to inquiries reasonably designed to discover specific evidence of a particular crime. Joining the brief were the ACLU, Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and the Committee for Public Counsel Services. Read the brief on our website here or on the Supreme Judicial Court's website here.

 

Guilty Plea Vacated Due to Immigration Consequences

On January 5, 2017, Attorney Nathanson convinced a judge to vacate our client's guilty pleas to drug trafficking because his trial attorney failed to advise him that a plea to drug distribution would make him automatically deportable under Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010). Attention to immigration consequences is essential in defending a criminal case. 

Freedom in Federal Court

On December 19, 2016, Attorney Nathanson and Attorney Shih secured the release of our client who had been serving a 15 year federal sentence for possession of a machine gun. Using the decision in Johnson v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 2551 (2015), the client’s sentence was reduced to time served with probation. They were able to convince the judge that, given the client's exemplary progress in prison and family support, he should be allowed to go directly home instead of a halfway house. Attorneys Nathanson and Shih helped the client create and practice what the judge called "one of the best allocutions I've ever heard."

Investigation of Tainted Juries

On June 16, 2016, in Commonwealth v. Moore, the SJC unanimously affirmed the decision of the trial court that Attorney Wood should be permitted to contact jurors in a widely publicized murder case to investigate the possibility that their verdict was affected by extraneous influences. Attorney Wood had been the first attorney in Massachusetts to take advantage of a change in the rules of professional conduct permitting attorneys to contact jurors in an effort to uncover injustice. This decision is expected to have a wide impact on post-conviction investigation of criminal cases.