Friday, March 23, 2012

Quick thought on the Mattapan quadruple murder verdict

Quick thought on the Mattapan quadruple murder.

First, let me illustrate why I think Eddie Washington was acquitted.

Question: As a jurror, what's the only thing worse than letting two cold-blooded murderers walk free?

Answer: Rendering a guilty verdict based on the word of a cold-blooded murderer trying to save his own skin.

Kimani Washington (Defendant Eddie Washington's cousin) is the type of witness that defense lawyers love. We're trained to expect that the a case will be won or lost based on cross of the state's star witness. We understand that the facts that come out on cross speak louder to jurrors than even the best attorney rhetoric. It's right there, from the accuser's own mouth. Washington's changing story, history of crime, and motive to save his own skin spelled his doom under cross-examination. Against a guy like John Cunha, he didn't stand a chance.

Second, I just want to point out in fairness to the Suffolk District Attorney's office: Suffolk county juries have an unusual reputation for acquitting defendants on high-profile murder cases. Either Bostonians are inherently skeptical of authority, or we have the best criminal defense lawyers in the country. Perhaps a bit of both. For more on this interplay, take a trip back to 1770:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Why Clemens May Walk

UPDATE!!! Mistrial Declared. Prosecution incompetence, horrific waste of taxpayer dollars. Spending more money to refile may make Justice Dept. look worse. Either way, huge break for The Rocket. Article below still worth reading!
They have his DNA, so case closed, right? Wrong! Though I cannot pretend to get in the minds of the jurors in this matter, I see a clear path to acquittal in the Roger Clemens performance enhancing drugs case.

Legendary Baltimore criminal defense attorney Billy Murphy has a simple but brilliant way of defending cases where the prosecution's case largely rests on the testimony of a shady witness. It is the "Who is this m@therf%cker" theory of defense. That is to say, the defense lawyer's purpose is to have the jury ask themselves who the main witness is, and whether that person ought to be believed. In pursuit of this strategy, defense lawyers can use their subpoena power, without the prosecution's knowledge, to dig up information on the accuser witness. Though I haven't been following the Clemens case closely, it seems clear that his chief accuser, former trainer Brian McNamee, already has a trail of lies to be exploited by the defense. Who knows what else is out there?

So one might ask: Even if McNamee can be destroyed on cross-examination, DNA doesn't lie, right? The answer is yes, and no. It is true that when a DNA match is made, the results are pretty hard to dispute. However, someone's DNA can always be planted in an incriminating place. If you think about it, we leave our DNA around all the time. Whether it is saliva on a drinking glass, a pubic hair in a public toilet, or mucus in a discarded tissue, it is not hard to find someone's DNA if you wish to set him up. Whats more in this case, is the fact that McNamee was Clemens's trainer, and he had access to syringes that may have been used to inject legal substances. How hard would it be to sprinkle some HGH into one of those syringes and claim it as indisputable proof of steroid use?

I'm not saying that Clemens will definitely walk. After all he is accused of lying, not taking steroids. However, when you consider McNamee's access to Clemens's DNA, in conjunction with his serious credibility problems, this case is not quite the slam dunk that prosecutors claim. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Pot drivers: Stoned drivers are uncharted territory -

This underscores the aggressive push to go after stoned drivers. Though this article screams of pro-prosecution bias, it is worth reading to understand the developing issue. Pot drivers: Stoned drivers are uncharted territory -

Monday, July 4, 2011

Know your Rights at Drunk Driving Roadblocks

It's 4th of July and that means DUI roadblocks will be out in force. Know your rights if you encounter one this weekend.

If ever in doubt, default to this simple process: First, ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says you are, then leave. If the officer says anything other than "yes," tell the officer that you will not be answering any questions or performing any tests without first consulting a lawyer. Then stay silent.

However, an OUI roadblock presents specific challenges from the perspective of defending a drunk driving case. So other than default advice above, and the most important advice of all, which is to not drink and drive, here are a few "Dos and Don'ts" to follow:


...When you first pull up, remain calm, provide any requested documentation
...Speak in clear but succinct one or two word answers. Say as little as possible.
...Answer only the very first simple questions such as "where are you coming from."
...Calmly and politely ask if you are free to leave if the encounter lasts for more than 15-20 seconds.
...If asked to exit the car, first ask whether you are free to leave.
...If you think arrest is imminent, ask if you may contact a lawyer on your cell phone, and contact me at 617-858-1529.


...Let an officer see you place a piece of gum or candy in your mouth
...Admit to consuming alcohol
...Participate in any field sobriety tests
...Participate in any medical or "drug recognition" tests
...Submit to any portable breath testing device
...Fall victim to pressure tactics such as "if you refuse I will arrest you." Let him arrest you and and contact a lawyer who will work to get the charges dismissed.

Remember on this 4th of July that we live in America. Non-cooperation with police is practically in our national DNA. Though they may arrest you, they will rarely beat you or physically harm you due to simple non-cooperation. You can be polite and non-hostile while protecting your rights. Never get into a physical altercation with police, but never be afraid to remain silent.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Barnstable DA should appoint special prosecutor

The Cape and Islands DA Michael O'Keefe should appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and possibly prosecute an incident where several off duty drug cops allegedly beat up a DJ at a bar.

DJ accuses officers of beating him |

As someone who has prosecuted cases myself, I understand the close relationship between prosecutors and officers. Though the prosecutor is supposed to be independent, it is rare that an assistant district attorney would question a police officer's story. They will be working together again within weeks, so the prosecutor has an incentive to "go along to get along." This poses a threat to justice in this matter.

Perhaps even more important, a special prosecutor will supervise the police investigation so that the police investigating other police are closely scrutinized for bias.

Narcotics police have a reputation for acting with impunity, often believing that they are "above the law." DA O'Keefe can demonstrate his commitment to impartial justice by appointing a special prosecutor for this case.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Supreme Court Further Curtails 4th Amendment

Today the Supreme Court put its stamp of approval on sneaky cop tactics used to circumvent the 4th Amendment in drug cases. In this particular case, the drug in question was marijuana. You can read the opinion here.