On May 16, 2018, the Supreme Judicial Court adopted the arguments of Attorney Jellison in Commonwealth v. Lazlo L., ruling that continued prosecution of eleven year old children is repugnant to the purposes of the legislature in enacting criminal justice reforms limiting such prosecutions. The prosecution of children is not just cruel, it is empirically bad policy. The prosecution of children has been demonstrated to increase the likelihood of later criminal justice involvement. Further, children this young are precisely those people who are most likely to mature and change. Children should be treated as children.
On May 1, 2019, the Supreme Judicial Court ordered a not guilty verdict for a defendant charged with accessory to murder. On behalf of MACDL and CPCS, Attorney Jellison authored an amicus brief in support of the defendant who was represented by Attorney Jin Ho King of MRDK Law. The witness refused give a phone number, which he had a right to do, and gave evasive answers. He was just scared and wanted to distance himself. The SJC adopted our argument that he didn't provide the killer with a defense or mislead police.
This week, after a 15 year fight, Attorney Wood finally achieved victory in the single most gut-wrenching case of his 25 year career. The Hampden Superior Court vacated the murder conviction of his client Omar and immediately released him into the loving arms of his family. Click here to read the story.
Attorney Shih just filed a brief on behalf of the Boston Bar Association arguing that people required to register as sex offenders should be permitted to ask for DNA testing to prove their innocence. SORB registration is a significant restraint on liberty and gives them standing to request testing. Read the brief here.
Folks, we haven’t posted in a while because *wow* have we been busy. Click here for a post about just some of what we’ve been up to.
In February 2019, thanks to Attorney Wood's quick intervention, a Boston area university agreed to lift a temporary suspension and not to initiate Title IX proceedings against his client, a college senior in the U.S. on a student visa who had been charged with a misdemeanor in a local court. This decision allows the client to graduate on time.
In January 2019, Attorney Wood, assisted by Attorney Jellison, successfully convinced a trial court to dismiss felony drug distribution charges against a client prior to trial by proving that the Commonwealth had allowed the destruction of relevant evidence and that the Commonwealth's so-called "drug expert" was not qualified to given an opinion and therefore his testimony would be excluded.
Wood & Nathanson’s Eva Jellison filed an amicus brief on behalf of CPCS and MACDL in the Michelle Carter “manslaughter by texting” case. In it, she argued for the application of a reasonable juvenile standard whenever the criminal law imposes a “reasonable person” standard on juveniles. The SJC avoided deciding the question. Read our analysis here in our new blog post.
n Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter, the Supreme Judicial Court declined to decide whether all legal standards involving a "reasonable person" should be applied against children by assessing what a reasonable juvenile of the same age would have done in the same circumstances. Trial attorneys should continue to request a reasonable juvenile instruction in any appropriate case and in bench trials should argue for the judge to apply a reasonable juvenile standard in closing. Given what we know about those age 18-25, trial attorneys should also consider asking for a reasonable person of the same age instruction and putting in an expert to explain brain science in the emerging adult population.
Job opening: Part-time office manager.
Wood & Nathanson, LLP is seeking a part-time office manager / paralegal. We are a criminal defense firm. Responsibilities include general office duties, record keeping, data entry, filing, correspondence, some interaction with courts and clients. Qualified candidates may also be given research and writing projects.
12-15 hours/week. $18/hour.
Send resume to David Nathanson.
We are excited and proud to announce that Attorney Chris Post will be receiving the President’s Award from the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. MACDL will be recognizing Attorney Post along with nine other attorneys who were instrumental in the SJC’s recent decision to vacate thousands of drug convictions tainted by the misconduct of chemist Sonia Farak.
On November 2, Attorney Wood spoke to the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers at WilmerHale, along with Joseph Nicholls, one of the leading cell phone forensic experts in Massachusetts. They gave a lecture entitled “Forensic Application of Cell Phone Call Detail Records.”
On October 22, Attorney Shih filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Boston Bar Association arguing that the automatic imposition of life with the possibility of parole on juveniles without an individualized sentencing hearing violates Art. 26 by precluding consideration of the distinctive characteristics of youth. Given the Supreme Judicial Court’s recent decisions in Lutskov and Perez II, as well as improved scientific understandings of juvenile brain development, “[i]t is a natural progression for this Court to find that art. 26 prohibits the non-discretionary imposition of life with parole for juvenile second-degree murder defendants.” Shih, who also authored the BBA’s brief in Lutskov, said, “We hope the Court will take this moment to recognize recent scientific and legal developments that have improved our understandings of the distinctive characteristics of youth and continue to expand the notion of justice accordingly, to provide the protections constitutionally necessary to ensure that these distinctions are appropriately incorporated into sentencing for juveniles.” Read the brief here.
On October 15, 2018, Christopher K. Post joined Wood & Nathanson. He is committed to exonerating the wrongfully accused. In recent years, he has focused on strategic litigation in complex cases involving thousands of indigent defendants. He has made contributions to such cases as Bridgeman v. District Attorney for the Suffolk District and Committee for Public Counsel Services v. Attorney General, which combined led to the dismissal of over 30,000 drug cases in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He also has experience at the trial court level, having worked for several years in the public defender’s office. Review his page here.
On May 31, 2016, Justice Richard Tucker granted Attorney Wood’s motion for new trial in Commonwealth v. Cosenza, a 2000 armed burglary case in which the trial judge had excluded the eyewitness expert testimony of Dr. Steven Penrod. Attorney Wood has been fighting for Mr. Cosenza for more than a decade.
Attorney Jellison recently filed an amicus brief in the case of Michelle Carter, a juvenile convicted of manslaughter for texts sent to her boyfriend. The brief argues that juvenile conduct should be judged by a “reasonable juvenile” standard, not a “reasonable adult” standard. Read the brief here.
In a recent administrative decision and after a hearing before the Sex Offender Registry Board, Associate Claire Ward convinced the SORB to reduce the classification of her client from a level 3 (highest risk level) to a level 1 (low risk), and as a result her client’s information, including sensitive personal details like their full name, date of birth, offense, home and work addresses, and photo, will not be disseminated on the internet. This is the second such win for Attorney Ward and her clients in the past three months.
In the appeal of an eviction case, Attorney Jellison helped develop issues and write a brief with a team of lawyers working through the Volunteer Lawyers Project. The Appellate Division of the District Court held that the district court judge abused his discretion when he failed to grant a continuance so that the elderly and disabled tenant could obtain counsel and present defenses. The tenant will now have the opportunity for a new hearing.
Attorney Wood along with Attorney Jellison recently filed a motion for a new trial in the murder of four Mattapan residents, citing new evidence, withheld evidence and prosecutorial misconduct. The motion details, e.g., how phone records were misinterpreted, misrepresented, and in fact provide evidence that the defendant was not present. Further, new evidence suggests that the prosecution's cooperator committed the crime with people from a notoriously violent street gang and not the defendant. Read the Boston Globe article here.