Chris Post to receive MACDL President's Award

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.

Juvenile Murder Defendants Deserve Individualized Sentencing

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.

Christopher Post Joins W&N

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.

Another Win Before Sex Offender Registry Board

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.

Appellate Win in Eviction Case

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.

New Trial Sought In Mattapan Murders

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.

Sex Offender Registry Board Win

Recently, Attorney Claire Ward succeeded in reducing her elderly client's Sex Offender Registry Board level from Level 3 to Level 1 (the lowest level). Her client, aging and in poor health, had not offended in decades and poses no threat to anyone. Attorney Ward convinced the SORB that the public could be protected without subjecting her client to the barriers to living safely and without discrimination that are posed by public notification.

Wrongful Conviction Suit Filed, Press Conference

UPDATED LOCATION: Post Office Square Park, Boston. On May 10, 2018, Wood & Nathanson along with Loevy & Loevy filed a wrongful conviction suit on behalf of our client Nat Cosenza. The suit alleges that Worcester Police prompted the victim to make a mistaken identification, withheld and manipulated evidence. A press conference will be held at 2 p.m. on May 10. Mr. Cosenza spent 16 years in prison for a wrongful armed burglary conviction. Read the press release here.

Consequences of a Conviction Lecture

Attorney Claire Ward is presenting on collateral consequences on Thursday, May 10, 2018 at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education. People charged with crime face so many penalties beyond probation and jail time but many people have no idea how a conviction can really impact their lives. A good attorney will help you anticipate and try to avoid some of these consequences.

Lecture: Felony Murder after Brown

After drafting an amicus brief on behalf of MACDL with Foley Hoag partner Neil Austin which helped convince the Massachusetts SJC to abandon the 150 year old felony murder rule in Commonwealth v. Brown, Attorney Wood gave a lecture on March 16, 2018, at the annual MACDL Advanced Post-Conviction Seminar, at Wilmer Hale in Boston, explaining the consequences of this ground-breaking decision. An outline of Attorney Wood's lecture is available here.

Speedy Trial Amicus

Attorney Wood along with a team from Goodwin Procter, LLP including Attorney Willie Jay, recently filed an amicus brief in the SJC. On behalf of MACDL, they argued that the defendants were entitled to dismissal because the prosecution was not ready to try the cases within one year. The defendants caused no delay and yet the prosecution tries to blame them for not objecting to the scheduling of routine pretrial conferences. The prosecution's argument is nonsense both as a matter of law and as a matter of policy. Read the brief here.

No Suspicionless Border Searches

We were pleased to partner with the Constitutional Accountability Center to file an amicus brief in support of the ACLU's challenge to suspicionless border searches of electronic devices in Alasaad v. Duke. The briefs are here. The government should not have unchecked power to trawl through our electronic devices. It is an invitation to profiling and other abuses.

Disappointing Decision on Pretextual Stops

We are disappointed in the SJC’s ruling today that pretextual traffic stops are permissible. The opinion expresses concern about the problem of racial profiling and “driving while black.” But in deciding the issues, it emphasizes the difficulties faced by judges asked to decide that a stop was pretextual. In contrast, the opinion gives short shrift to the real world difficulties faced by people who are subjected to pretextual stops. Pretextual stops lead to not just inconvenience, but embarrassment, missed appointments, lost pay, lost jobs, and even lost lives. A judge’s supposed difficulty in deciding whether a stop was pretextual should not outweigh the difficulties of the people of the Commonwealth. 

Article 26 is more protective than the Eighth Amendment

We were troubled by a misstatement in a recent SJC opinion which asserted that Massachusetts' art. 26 protection against cruel or unusual punishments had never been ruled to be more protective than the Eighth Amendment. It just isn't true. So, we (along with Attorney Merritt Schnipper) filed this amicus brief on behalf of the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, asking the SJC to remove this misstatement. Many of us feared that this was a beachhead in an attempted rollback on constitutional protections.