News

Defendant Never Told of Negative Drug Testing

Atty. Christopher Post also won a new trial and then dismissal for a defendant who was never told that the “drugs” he was convicted of possessing tested negative at the Hinton lab. Police had stopped him, tackled him, and claimed they found crack cocaine. He was subsequently charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine in a school zone. He pleaded guilty quickly to avoid the mandatory minimum school zone charge. While he was serving his sentence, testing at Hinton proved the substance was not drugs, just as he had claimed, but no one ever told him and continued serving his sentence. After the Dookhan and Farak scandals, Atty. Post helped identify similarly situated individuals while at the C.P.C.S. Drug Lab Crisis Litigation Unit. It appears there may be more than 300 similarly situated defendants.

Drug Lab Fallout Continues

The Massachusetts drug lab scandal is by no means over. None of the prior cases decided by the SJC dealt with the fact that disgraced chemist Sonja Farak worked at the Boston-area Hinton drug lab before she was caught stealing drugs and faking results at the Amherst drug lab. Atty. Christopher Post recently won a new trial and dismissal of charges where he showed that Farak’s volume of testing at Hinton at times surpassed Annie Dookhan’s, who was only able to achieve such results through fraud. He also showed that Farak made statements that suggest drug use while she was at the Hinton lab.

A Win Against the Jailing of Children

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.

Amicus Brief: Not Guilty of Accessory to Murder

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.

DNA Testing for People on Sex Offender Registry

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.

Title IX Proceedings Avoided

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.

Drug "Expert" Excluded, Drug Charges Dismissed

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.

New Blog Post on Michelle Carter Decision

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.

Office Manager / Paralegal Position

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.

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.