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I’ve written on this blog previously about the Massachusetts drug lab scandal, and I tweeted earlier this week about the latest , very significant development surrounding that scandal.

This colossal mess began almost 5 years ago, with the discovery that a Massachusetts drug lab chemist, Annie Dookhan, had spent years intentionally falsifying the lab tests that were submitted to the drug lab for content analysis for use by state prosecutors in drug cases.  The cases of  approximately 20,000 Massachusetts drug defendants and drug convicts were affected by her actions.  For several years now, state and court officials have grappled with what to do with these cases and convictions, which came to be called the “Dookhan defendants.” Continue reading

The Boston Globe recently asked itself an interesting question:  Is there an identifiable collection, or concentration, of bars or restaurants in Massachusetts that have a statistically verifiable reputation of being the last place that convicted drunk drivers were served alcohol prior to being arrested for drunk driving  Or, rephrased, “Can we assemble a list of bars that are more likely to “last serve” a person who is soon thereafter arrested for drunk driving? ” 

As I said, this is, both in terms of statistics and public safety, an interesting question.  The Globe published the results of their investigation earlier today, which lists 50 such bars, restaurants, or any business licensed to serve alcohol in Massachusetts, and the story can be found here.  The story creates the new acronym of “PLD,” for “place of last drink”, which the Globe claims represents an instance where the listed establishment allegedly served the last drink to a patron who was intoxicated,  arrested on Massachusetts OUI/DUI charges soon after leaving he bar, and afterward convicted of DUI or operating under the influence. The Globe claims the ratings are based on data it collected and studied from the period of Jan. 2012 through Sept. 2016. Continue reading

A rape victim who was impregnated as a result of a rape that took place when she was 14 is fighting in court to keep her convicted rapist from being awarded visitation rights to the daughter she gave birth to nine months after the assault.

The victim was in 8th grade when an individual named Jamie Melendez had sexual intercourse with her several times in 2009. At the time of these sexual assaults, Melendez was 19 and met the victim through a friend of her older sister’s.   The victim testified that Melendez visited her at her home several times when he knew she was alone, and testified that Melendez pressured her into intercourse with him on four separate occasions.  Violence did not appear to be present in any of these rapes – they were statutory rapes, which take place even if the victim consented, any time an alleged victim is under a certain age (16 in Massachusetts.)  The victim became pregnant following one of the attacks and gave birth to a girl in 2010.  Melendez had been arrested in 2009 and initially denied paternity, but DNA evidence proved him to be the father.  Eventually Melendez pled guilty to charges of statutory rape in 2011 – however, he avoided jail as the trial judge ordered  a lengthy probation sentence instead – 16 years- reasoning that allowing  Melendez to work and hold down a job would enable him to pay the victim child support.  After Melendez’s 2011 sentencing, the case was transferred to the Massachusetts Probate and Family court – which the victim now argues should never have been done.  As a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, I think she’s probably right. Continue reading

Well, as of midnight tonight, marijuana is finally legalized in Massachusetts.  Despite the dire predictions of tone-deaf politicians and law enforcement officials, despite the moral protestations of religious leaders including the Catholic church, the voters of Massachusetts saw through the smoke and mirrors (pardon the pun,) and approved what so many other states have already done:  Made possession of limited amounts of cannabis legal. Voters here had already decriminalized marijuana in 2008, and approved medical marijuana in 2012.  Reflecting the cluelessness of many of Beacon Hill, all three measures had to be approved by citizen ballot measures, as the legislature consistently refused to act. In a growing trend of sanity on this issue, Massachusetts voters joined voters in Maine, California, and Nevada on Nov. 8.  Colorado, Oregon, Washington State, Alaska, and the District of Columbia also voted to legalize marijuana in recent years. Continue reading

Anyone familiar me or with this blog knows that I am a fierce defender of anyone who has been charged with a Massachusetts rape offense, or any Massachusetts sex offense.  No, not because I don’t find rape or any sex offense to be repugnant – I very much do.  Rather, it’s because that sex offenses, as a criminal law category, is one in which there is often more gray than there is black and white:  Believe me, as a Massachusetts rape defense attorney, I can assure you:  Just because someone accuses another person of  “rape”, does NOT mean that the accused is legally guilty of that crime.  If I were to tell you every case story I have represented, you would come to understand that the number of cases that re “black and white” are relatively small, compared with the number that fall into a very “gray” category. Continue reading

Well, well – here we are:  Black Friday, that ignominious day in the American calendar when otherwise (and I use this term liberally) “normal” people, turn into openly aggressive, violent, even maniacal individuals – all in the name of scoring a few less dollars on the latest wide screen TV or pair of sneakers.  To quote an aphorism that has become quite true, “Because only in America, do people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.” How bad is this problem?  In just the past eight years, from 2006 to 2014, the total death count involving Black Friday shopping incidents has reached seven deaths.    Visually, try to think of being in a cemetery and seeing seven gravestones, each reading “Killed in a store by other shoppers the day after Thanksgiving.”   Two of those deaths were the result of people actually being “trampled” by aggressive shoppers. Two more were shooting deaths, and the remaining fatalities were due car crashes that were directly related to Black Friday shopping. Continue reading

More and more these days, I get calls from people who want me to assist them in obtaining a Massachusetts firearms license (gun permit,) or to represent them in an appeal of a permit denial they have received.  Importantly, these aren’t people who have been accused of committing any crimes – they’re law-abiding citizens who want to legally carry a gun.  Even more striking, the vast majority of these people have never carried any kind of firearm before.

Some who are reading this post this might think these people are suspicious types – ne’er do wells, uneducated people, or hunters.  As a Massachusetts gun license lawyer, I can assure anyone:  They’re not.  In fact, the vast majority of them are educated, working people who never before though that they’d ever want to own a gun – but now they want to.  What drives them to want this?  Continue reading

In my previous post on this topic, I wrote about how prosecutors in Massachusetts must prove that any allegedly illegal substances that the Commonwealth accuses a defendant of possessing, using, or distributing, have actually been tested by a qualified chemist in the state drug lab, and that the substance is indeed either a controlled substance or an illegal drug.   That’s the first, threshold legal issue in any Massachusetts drug offenses prosecution.  Continue reading

When what you do in your profession involves defending as legal counsel people who have been charged with some very serious crimes, a common question is “How can you defend people who have been accused of such serious crimes?”  My answer, as a Wrentham  Mass. criminal defense attorney, is always the same:  “Because they may be legally innocent.”

Drug crimes are an area that many people misunderstand – or perhaps more accurately, mis-context.  They often assume that anyone charged with a Massachusetts drug offense must be some kind of drug-crazed criminal, or the local version of something like a ‘drug lord.’  Hardly.  In fact, the truth is almost anything but this. Some examples?   Being found by police to be carrying a controlled substance without a prescription on your person.  This could happen while traveling through Logan Airport, or even if stopped in your car by police.   Or providing any of your prescription pain medication to another person because they were in pain and couldn’t locate or get an appointment with their own doctor right away.  Or selling or buying more than an ounce of marijuana to another (yes, pot.)  Or a student who gives some of his or her Ritalin prescription to a friend in advance of exams.  The list goes on and on.  As a Massachusetts drug charges lawyer, I can say with certainty that 85%-90% of my Massachusetts drug charges clients are definitely not dangerous drug criminals. Continue reading

The Massachusetts SJC just issued a very controversial ruling in reviewing a criminal case that, as a Boston criminal defense lawyer, most people would expect me to agree with wholeheartedly.  I don’t.  My views aren’t going to win me much agreement with my colleagues in the criminal defense bar, but I just can’t support this finding.

Continue reading