Category Archive: News

  1. Judge hears closing arguments in Wendell State Forest protesters case

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    The attorney representing the 16 people arrested at Wendell State Forest in the summer told them they have notched a win, regardless of how Judge David Ross rules in their case.

    Luke Ryan assured his clients their voices were heard loud and clear, and now they must wait for Ross to render his decision, which Ryan believes could happen on May 4.

    Sixteen people, all members of the Wendell State Forest Alliance, were arrested in August and September after physically trying to prevent a state Department of Conservation and Recreation logging project on an 80-acre oak stand in the state forest. The protesters insist this action was necessary civil disobedience. Ross is tasked with determining if the defendants were responsible for what happened.

    Read more at The Recorder.

  2. Jury Acquits STRH Client of Murder and Other Charges in Infant’s Death

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    Miguel Fonseca-Colon has been released after more than five years in custody after a jury found him not guilty in the 2013 death of Jadamier Cintron, the five-month-old baby of Mr. Fonseca’s housemate. The jury reached its verdict in under four hours.

    Mr. Fonseca was represented at trial by Attorneys David Hoose of STRH and Jeffrey Brown, of Greenfield.



    Local news coverage of the first week of trial can be found at the following links:

  3. Prosecutors who covered up Mass. drug lab scandal now face bar discipline, civil rights lawsuit

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    The prosecutors who handled the Farak case are facing their own legal troubles. The Massachusetts state bar has filed disciplinary charges against three of the assistant attorneys general who withheld evidence from [Attorney Luke Ryan’s client, Rolando Penate] and others, and a federal judge has ruled that one of the prosecutors is not entitled to immunity and can be sued by Penate for violating his civil rights…

    “Prosecutors tend to be unique as practicing attorneys,” said Luke Ryan, Penate’s lawyer and the man who discovered Farak’s long drug-use history after prosecutors withheld it, “in escaping consequences for ethical lapses. When a Board of Bar Overseers finds misconduct in a case like this, it’s significant.”

    Read the whole article at The Washington Post.

  4. The Chemists and the Cover-Up

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    Sloppy forensics, drug skimming, and prosecutorial misconduct forced Massachusetts to throw out 47,000 convictions.

    “I suspect that if another entity was in the mix”—perhaps the inspector general or an independent investigator—”the Attorney General’s Office would have treated the Farak case much more seriously and would have been much more reluctant to hide the ball,” Ryan writes in an email. One reason that didn’t happen, he says: “the determination Coakley and her team made the morning after Farak’s arrest that her misconduct did not affect the due process rights of any Farak defendants.” Because the attorney general had “portrayed Farak as a dedicated public servant who was apprehended immediately after crossing the line, there was also no reason…to waste resources engaging in any additional introspection.”

    Sponsored by the Fund for Investigative Journalism, published this article in March, 2019.


  5. Complex Paper Trail Means Farak and Dookhan Drug Defendants Must Wait a Few More Months for Reimbursement

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    The state owes money to 40,000 drug defendants whose convictions were overturned due to misconduct by state drug lab chemists.

    But it will take several more months for those people to get reimbursed for any fees and fines they paid.

    After a year of work, the process of identifying how much money people are owed has proven “difficult and time-consuming,” according to a status report filed with the Supreme Judicial Court Tuesday by Attorney General Maura Healey’s office and attorneys for the drug defendants: Daniel Marx, William Fick and Luke Ryan.

    Read the full article at and related article: “Here’s What Some 40,000 Defendants Could be Paid Due to Farak and Dookhan Drug Dismissals.”

  6. Springfield City Council Approves $450,000 for Police Brutality Settlement

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    The City Council on Monday approved spending $450,000 to resolve a police brutality case in which a jury previously ruled the city was “deliberately indifferent to the civil rights of its citizens.”

    The payment to Lee Hutchins Sr. follows a successful lawsuit in U.S. District Court in which he accused police of using excessive force during a domestic disturbance. The Boston jury awarded $250,000 to Hutchins in February, and he filed a subsequent claim for more than $200,000 in attorneys’ fees and trial-related costs…

    Lawyers for Hutchins said the city was to blame for the rising cost of the lawsuit by dragging out the case rather than reaching a settlement. They said the prolonged case led to more than 500 hours of work on Hutchins’ behalf.

    “In short, the City never made any serious effort to resolve the litigation,” wrote Northampton attorney Luke Ryan, one of the lawyers representing Hutchins.

    Read the full article at

  7. Luke Ryan Changes The Game When It Comes To Law Enforcement In The Commonwealth

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    On February 14, Attorney Luke Ryan appeared on the Bill Newman show on WHMP Radio to discuss the recent verdict awarded by a jury in the case of Hutchins v. City of Springfield, et al. 

    “So I think it just came to a tipping point where our counter arguments against letting [the case against the city be separated from the case against the individual officer] finally really became persuasive enough to have the usual course stop. We essentially said, ‘Look. You’re going to have these cases show up again and again and again until you get to the root cause of it, which is an unconstitutional disciplinary system…'”

    Listen to the full interview here.

  8. Has Your Conviction Been Thrown Out?

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    On February 19, 2019, Attorney Luke Ryan visited the Bill Newman Show on WHMP Radio with Matt Segal of the ACLU of Massachusetts to further discuss the ramifications of the Sonia Farak and Annie Dookhan cases, including that more than 47,000 convictions have been overturned by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and efforts to notify the defendants in those cases.

    Listen to the full article here. The article begins at approximately 5:25 in the audio.

    If you think you have been affected by either of these lab scandals, you can contact the Public Defenders’ hotline at 888-999-2881 or visit the Drug Lab Crisis Litigation Unit’s website.

  9. ACLU reaching out to drug defendants cleared in state lab scandal

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    Following the Supreme Judicial Court’s October decision to overturn thousands of drug convictions because of misconduct at an Amherst testing lab, a campaign has been launched to inform the defendants that they have been cleared of those charges…

    Northampton attorney Luke Ryan’s work on behalf of his clients proved vital in exposing the breadth of Farak’s misconduct. Ryan said the treatment records his advocacy helped bring to light showed that Farak was either using or affected by drugs nearly every day she worked at the lab. He also said that this misconduct began virtually the same day she became a chemist in Amherst.

    Ryan said that although he is not part of the effort to contact those whose convictions have been overturned, he supports it.

    “With a drug conviction comes almost a second-class citizenship,” Ryan said. “The collateral consequences are really profound.”

    He said that such a conviction can impact anything from being able to volunteer at your child’s school to one’s immigration status.

    Read the full article here.

  10. Federal Jury Finds Excessive Force by Springfield Police Officer Hervieux, City Responsible

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    After seven days of trial, on January 30, 2019, a federal jury in Boston awarded Lee Hutchins of Springfield $250,000, finding that Springfield Police Officer Thomas Hervieux used excessive force against him during a January, 2013 arrest.  Mr. Hutchins was represented at trial by STRH lawyers, David Hoose, Luke Ryan and Samantha LeBoeuf.  Mr. Hutchins had previously been acquitted of all criminal charges arising from his arrest in a trial in the Springfield District Court in 2014, at which he was represented by Attorney Ryan.

    The federal jury also found the City of Springfield liable for failing to appropriately discipline and supervise its officers after numerous previous complaints of excessive force.  The jury found that the City’s deliberate indifference to the civil rights of its citizens was the moving force behind the violation of Mr. Hutchins’ constitutional rights.

    According to news reports, the jury’s verdict has prompted Springfield city councilors to review its policies with respect to investigation and discipline relating to allegations of excessive force by its officers.

    To read more:

    • Federal jury awards $250,000 in Springfield police brutality case

    • Springfield City Councilor Orlando Ramos: ‘I want answers’ after city slapped with $250,000 jury award in police brutality case:

    • Springfield leaders react to settlement in alleged police brutality case

  11. Thousands of Defendants with Vacated Convictions will Get Money Back

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    The state’s top court this week paved the way for the return of fines and fees to tens of thousands of defendants whose convictions were vacated in the wake of twin Massachusetts drug lab scandals.

    The Supreme Judicial Court ordered the return of more than $8,000 to two individuals whose cases were dismissed in 2017 because of the unprecedented tampering by former chemist Annie Dookhan. The ruling also mandates the return of fees to some of the nearly 40,000 individuals whose cases were thrown out due to the Dookhan scandal and the separate tampering scandal at the state’s Amherst drug lab.

    Read more:

  12. SJC Dismisses Thousands of Drug Convictions after Amherst Lab Scandal

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    The state’s highest court has ordered thousands more drug convictions dismissed based on a chemist’s misconduct in a state lab in Amherst and state prosecutors’ withholding of evidence about that wrongdoing.

    In a sweeping decision issued on Thursday, the Supreme Judicial Court dismissed with prejudice every methamphetamine-related conviction from the nine years that former chemist Sonja Farak worked at the Amherst lab, as well as all cases involving drug tests from that lab from Jan. 1, 2009 through Jan. 18, 2013. The state attorney general’s office will be responsible for the costs of identifying and notifying those whose cases would be overturned.

    Read more:

    The Court’s full decision can be found at:

  13. Defense Bar Lauds Rule 14 Review in Wake of Farak

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    Most importantly, a recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling will bring delayed justice to defendants whose drug convictions had been tainted by the misconduct of former state chemist Sonja Farak and two assistant attorneys general. But the decision could also usher in a new era of prosecutors turning over potentially exculpatory information more promptly and completely, defense attorneys hope.

    In its Oct. 11 opinion in Committee for Public Counsel Services, et al. v. Attorney General, et al., the SJC requested its Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure to take a fresh look at Mass. R. Crim. P. 14, which currently broadly defines exculpatory evidence as “any facts of an exculpatory nature.”

    “While Rule 14 envisions a broad disclosure requirement for exculpatory facts, the rule explicitly identifies only a few specific categories of potentially exculpatory information that a prosecutor must disclose,” Justice Frank M. Gaziano wrote for the court.

    The SJC has asked the advisory committee to draft a proposed “Brady checklist” an allusion to Brady v. Maryland, the U.S. Supreme Court’s seminal decision in 1963 on prosecutors’ duties of disclosure that would more clearly define “exculpatory evidence,” providing prosecutors with more detailed guidance.

    Having such guidance might have prevented what in December 2016 Superior Court Judge Richard J. Carey called a “fraud upon the court” by the two AAGs. Carey said the pair had done so by “withholding exculpatory evidence and providing deceptive answers to another judge in order to conceal the failure to make mandatory disclosure to criminal defendants whose cases were affected by Farak’s misconduct.”

    Read more:

  14. Class-Action Lawsuit Filed in Jamaica Plain Drug Lab Scandal

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    “Charging defendants, many of whom struggle to make ends meet, all sorts of costs and fees to fill the coffers of the Commonwealth and run the criminal justice systems is bad policy with harmful consequences,” Northampton attorney Luke Ryan said in a statement. “Refusing to refund money, to pay for uncompensated labor, and to return seized property to people who were wrongfully convicted is even worse — it is against the law.”

    Read more here.

  15. Massachusetts Officials Face Federal Class Action Suit For Compensation In Drug Lab Scandal

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    “A federal class action lawsuit has been filed against the state of Massachusetts over the drug lab scandal involving former state chemist Annie Dookhan, who admitted to falsifying the tests on drug evidence used in tens of thousands of criminal cases.

    Although the state dropped more than 21,000 drug cases because of Dookhan’s misconduct, the suit claims some of those convicted based on the false evidence are now entitled to compensation for probationary fees and other costs. The plaintiffs’ lawyers say that compensation could add up to millions of dollars.”

    More information is here, including a link to WBUR’s Weekend Edition interview with Attorney Luke Ryan.

  16. Ruling on pretrial publicity could aid Tsarnaev defense

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    December 8, 2015

    In a decision that could provide a framework when it considers the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a federal appeals court in Boston on Monday ordered a new trial for a Puerto Rico man who had asked that his trial be moved because the jury pool had been tainted by pretrial publicity. . . .

    David Hoose, a Northampton lawyer and one of the few in the state who specialize in death penalty cases, said that the appeals court will have to consider the facts specific to Tsarnaev’s case, but added that the decision on Monday “certainly has got to breathe some life into the Tsarnaev claims.”

    “It’s a case that the appellate lawyers for Tsarnaev are going to be looking to, as a case where they can say ‘a court upheld the right to a change of venue where pretrial publicity is so overwhelming,’ ” he said. “What it comes down to is they want to show their case is like this.”

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  17. Howard Sasson: Strong school system worth the investment

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    July 8, 2013

    . . . . Schools are supposed to be America’s engine of social mobility. Smaller classes sizes and programs in art and music should not be available only to those who can afford to go to private schools or have the wherewithal to send their kids to charter schools.

    We are increasingly a society of haves and have-nots and the growing inequality in the educational system is a contributing factor. In the so-called new economy all of our children are going to be in trouble unless we can provide them with high quality, relevant and affordable educations. . . .

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  18. State should do the right thing with tainted drug convictions

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    July 20, 2015

    On Oct. 30, 2014, Northampton defense attorney Luke Ryan drove to Boston to have a court-ordered look at a box of papers state investigators recovered from the car of former drug lab chemist Sonja J. Farak after her arrest on evidence tampering and drug charges.
    He had been told by state authorities there was nothing in the box that would be of use in his effort to clear his clients of criminal charges.
    They couldn’t have been more wrong.
    Ryan was pursuing justice for several clients convicted of drug charges based on evidence that included Farak’s so-called drug test certifications. With a state police officer looking on, in about 90 minutes Ryan found among the roughly 280 pieces of paper in that box the proverbial smoking gun.

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  19. A test of same-sex civil rights

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    April 12, 2001

    NORTHAMPTON – Like many parents, Gina Smith and Heidi Norton of Northampton fret over their children’s health and sock away money for college. But because they are a lesbian couple, their family is legally less secure than heterosexual married parents.

    Norton and Smith joined six other couples from across Massachusetts Wednesday in filing a lawsuit against the state, saying the practice of denying same-sex couples the right to marry is unconstitutional.

    Filed in Suffolk Superior Court by the Boston-based Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, the lawsuit is potentially ground-breaking, many lawyers say. . . .

    Cynthia Turnbull, of the Northampton and Springfield firm Katz, Sasson, Hoose and Turnbull, said many case laws address same-sex adoption and other family issues, and she is optimistic that the Massachusetts judiciary is ready to consider same-sex marriage.

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  20. Tsarnaev Sentenced To Death, What Happens Next?

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    May 15, 2015

    BOSTON – After four months of trial, a jury has sentenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death for the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. . . .

    We reached out to criminal defense attorney David Hoose ahead of the sentencing decision to learn more. He has experience handling federal death penalty cases and represented Kristen Gilbert, a Northampton nurse convicted of killing four patients in 2001 and sentenced to life in prison. Here’s what he said about what’s to come in the case (lightly edited):

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  21. Action/reaction: How Jack Robison’s chemistry lab led to an indictment from the DA

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    June 10, 2009

    At 19, skinny, bespectacled and shaggy-haired, John E. Robison, Jr. doesn’t look the part, but for a little while he had local and state police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI worried about what he kept in his basement.

    The South Hadley/Amherst area teen was found innocent of three counts of malicious explosion and one count of possessing explosives with the intent to harm people or property by a Hampshire Superior Court jury on Wednesday, May 27. The charges stemmed from videos Robison, who goes by Jack, posted on YouTube chronicling his experimentation with home-made, high-power explosives between Sept. 12 and Oct. 20, 2007.

    He faced up to 60 years in prison.

    . . . .

    The prosecution mantained that explosions of the size that Jack was producing would inevitably damage property, but the defense countered that there was no evidence of destruction of property, other than video of explosives disturbing “unimproved land.”

    “The defendent should not be penalized for causing a degree of harm to unimproved land not clearly within the statute’s reach,” wrote Jack’s attorney, David P. Hoose, according to court documents.

    He later wrote: “What the Commonwealth desires is a conclusion from the jury that the substances Mr. Robison possessed were dangerous and therefore his intent in possessing them must have been unlawful,” according to the documents.

    The jury didn’t reach that conclusion; they found Jack Robison innocent on all counts.

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  22. Widening scandal at state drug lab in Mass. exposes opportunities for reform

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    July 17, 2015

    Sonja Farak, a state forensic chemist in western Massachusetts, was minutes away from testifying in a drug case in early 2013 when attorneys learned she was about to be arrested on charges of tampering with evidence and stealing drugs from her workplace. . . .

    Farak was charged in only two cases at first – involving the theft of two samples and their replacement with counterfeit substances. Then-Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said that no suspects’ due process rights were violated and that the contraband stolen was “a small amount,” The Boston Globe reported at the time. . . .

    Police recovered some of the documents from her car after her arrest. They were referred to in the police report as “assorted lab paperwork.”

    Luke Ryan, an attorney based in Northampton, Mass., asked Coakley’s office multiple times for the recovered evidence. Mr. Ryan, who has represented clients potentially affected by the Farak scandal, says he was first allowed to review the evidence on Oct. 30, 2014. Based on what he saw, he and another defense attorney asked a judge to order the full records from Farak’s therapy sessions.

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  23. Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Scott Lively

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    SMUG v. Lively is a federal lawsuit on behalf of a non-profit umbrella organization for LGBTI advocacy groups in Uganda against Scott Lively, a U.S.-based anti-gay extremist, for his role in the persecution of LGBTI people in Uganda, in particular his active participation in the conspiracy to strip away their fundamental rights.


    Current Status: In discovery. Summary judgment briefing set for fall 2015.

    Date Filed: March 14, 2012

    Counsel: Baher Azmy, Zachery Morris, Pamela Spees

    Client: Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG)

  24. Federal prosecutors to seek death penalty against Marathon terror bomb suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

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    January 30, 2014

    US Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. has authorized federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the young man accused in the Boston Marathon terror bombings in April that killed three people, injured more than 260 others, and sent a wave of shock and fear through the region. . . .

    David P. Hoose, a Northampton-based lawyer who handles death penalty cases, said that while the federal government has authorized fewer capital cases in recent years, he expected it would seek the death penalty in this case, noting the extent of the bombings, the number of injuries and deaths, and overall nature of the terrorist attack.

    “If they ever want to maintain any credibility that there is a federal death penalty and they’re going to use it, of course, they’re going to authorize it in this case,” he said. “They’re not ready to declare a de facto moratorium on the death penalty. If they didn’t approve this one, that’s what they’d be doing.”

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  25. Northampton drops case against Jason Correia, whose arrest was videotaped

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    December 2, 2013

    NORTHAMPTON – At the direction of Mayor David J. Narkewicz, a special prosecutor retained by the city to pursue a civil disorderly conduct charge against Jonas Correia has dropped the charge, ending a case that provoked public outrage when a video of Correia’s arrest by Northampton police went viral. . . .

    The American Civil Liberties Union took the case, with the assistance of Northampton lawyer Luke Ryan. William C. Newman with the ACLU said the organization believes Correia was arrested trying to exercise his right to free speech.

    “The ACLU of Massachusetts took on this case because it is important to understand that excessive force happens in every community, and because a person exercising his First Amendment right to videotape the police should not risk being arrested or charged with a crime,” Newman said.

    Ryan said the resisting arrest charge was dropped after the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office reviewed the video.

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  26. Michael Ververis acquitted of assault and battery on Springfield police officer, other charges

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    April 25, 2013

    SPRINGFIELD – Michael Ververis Thursday was found not guilty of three charges stemming from an incident in the entertainment district in January 2011.

    Springfield District Court Judge Mark Mason, in the jury-waived trial, acquitted Ververis – a FedEx driver from Middletown, Conn. – of assault and battery on a police officers, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.

    Ververis, 25, who has not been incarcerated pending trial, walked quietly out of the courthouse with his lawyer Luke Ryan, family members and supporters, who had watched the four day trial.

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  27. Federal court rules Westfield mayor in violation of First Amendment

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    February 24, 2014

    SPRINGFIELD – A federal judge has ruled that Westfield Mayor Daniel Knapik violated the First Amendment rights of two political candidates and a local property owner by ordering campaign signs removed on the eve of the 2011 municipal election. . . .

    In his ruling, Ponsor granted the plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, saying the mayor had violated their state and federal rights. . . .

    Knapik moved for reconsideration of the ruling Monday. William Newman of the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the plaintiffs, responded by calling Knapik’s motion “a tawdry example of an elected official seeking to evade responsibility for his actions.”

    “Lawn signs are a way in which ordinary people can meaningfully participate in democracy,” Newman added, “and it’s important to protect that ability to participate.”

    Newman, the director of the ACLU’s Western Massachusetts office, was assisted in the case by Luke Ryan of the Northampton law firm Sasson, Turnbull, Ryan & Hoose.

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  28. Donald Perry, former Amherst soup kitchen coordinator, happy to be home from state prison

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    March 21, 2014

    NORTHAMPTON — Donald Perry is thankful to be home, but angry, too, that it took him two years and eight months to get back.

    More than a dozen people welcomed him back from state prison Friday evening with cake and coffee at his lawyer Luke Ryan’s office.

    Perry, the former Amherst soup kitchen coordinator, was arrested on charges related to break-ins into a house and car in Leverett in August of 2011 where an iPad and money were stolen. He was on parole, and it was revoked.

    A jury acquitted him in court, but it took him this long to get back out.


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  29. Springfield police, wiretap law and the case for cruiser cameras

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    August 5, 2014

    SPRINGFIELD – When the police stop you, immediately you should hit record, Vanessa Lynch told the crowd.

    Lynch, a member of the Arise for Social Justice board of directors, sat on the grassy median at a rally Saturday, Aug. 2, across from the Springfield Police Station. Protestors sat on buckets holding hand-drawn signs that said “Stop the militarization of law enforcement” and “Film the police.”

    Luke Ryan, an attorney based in Northampton, spoke into a microphone about police-public interactions, explaining constitutional rights and how to behave during encounters.

    “The people writing police reports are humans,” Ryan said. “They can make mistakes.”

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  30. Former Amherst teacher Carolyn Gardner, subject of racist graffiti, settles with district

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    July 8, 2015

    AMHERST – The Amherst-Pelham Regional School District and former high school math teacher Carolyn Gardner have reached a resolution regarding her employment in the schools.

    The details of the settlement were not disclosed.

    The lawsuit filed on Gardner’s behalf with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has been dismissed, said Gardner’s attorney Cynthia Turnbull, of the Northampton office of Sasson, Turnbull, Ryan & Hoose. . . .

    “There are no words to express Carolyn Gardner’s gratitude for the outpouring of support she has received these last 21 months,” a statement issued by Turnbull read. “Suffice it to say, the stand she took would not have been possible without those who stood beside her.

    “The settlement of this lawsuit ends a dispute within a larger struggle that will endure. Ms. Gardner intends to keep doing her part in that struggle alongside the many wonderful young people who distinguished themselves during this ordeal.”

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  31. Springfield wrestles with Delano Walker jury award, now up to $1.72 million with attorney’s fees proposed

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    September 30, 2014

    SPRINGFIELD – Members of the City Council are pressing the Law Department for answers about how much financial exposure taxpayers will bear for the recent $1.3 million jury award in connection with the Delano Walker Jr. police misconduct lawsuit.

    That award, decided by a nine-member jury in U.S. District Court Sept. 22, followed a three-day trial probing the death of Walker, 15, struck and killed by a car in 2009 during a run-in with police. . . .

    They found Sullivan violated Walker’s civil rights through excessive force and assault and battery. The $1.3 million awarded by the jury crept up to $1.6 million with the addition of interest and will continue to accrue at around $2,500 weekly as lawyers for the city mull an appeal.

    Also, plaintiff’s lawyers David Hoose, Luke Ryan and Howard Sasson petitioned the federal court for $125,000 in attorney’s fees on Monday – bringing the potential tally to $1.725 million. The lawsuit was filed in 2012 by Walker’s mother, Kissa Owens. It is far and away the largest jury award in the city’s history.

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  32. Tsarnaev Expressed Sympathy for Boston Bombing Victims, Sister Helen Prejean Says

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    May 11, 2015

    BOSTON — Wearing street clothes, a silver cross dangling from her neck, Sister Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun and prominent opponent of the death penalty, testified on Monday that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the convicted Boston Marathon bomber, had expressed sympathy for his victims. . . .

    In a brief cross-examination, the prosecution instead underscored that Sister Prejean is based in New Orleans and is a nationally recognized opponent of the death penalty — that is, a witness from outside Massachusetts who has a strong bias.

    “Their cross-examination was to point out what was obvious: She’s against the death penalty, and she’d be up there arguing against it even if it were Adolf Hitler,” said David Hoose, a defense lawyer in Northampton, Mass., who has argued death penalty cases.

    Still, Mr. Hoose said, Sister Prejean was a valuable witness because she carries moral authority and because if Mr. Tsarnaev felt any regret, she could convey sincerity about it better than he could.

    “His lawyers probably felt this is the best we can do in terms of expressing remorse,” Mr. Hoose said. “It may not be enough for some jurors, but maybe there is one juror who was looking for that, who will say, ‘O.K., that’s enough for me.’ ”

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  33. SJC says state’s investigation of Amherst crime lab was lacking

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    April 8, 2015

    Massachusetts’ highest court said Wednesday that top state law enforcement officials failed to fully investigate how many times former state chemist Sonja Farak tampered with drug evidence during the nine years she worked at a now-closed state lab in Amherst. . . .

    An amicus brief filed by attorney Luke Ryan, who represented a defendant in another drug case, described documents officials found in Farak’s car that he said he viewed, which included diary cards that refer to urges to “take drugs.”

    In an interview, Ryan said he believed the attorney general’s office faced a conflict of interest in investigating Farak.

    “They were prosecuting Sonja Farak, but the more they looked into her misconduct, the more they realized it could affect the integrity of other cases,” Ryan said. “This wasn’t somebody who woke up the day before she was arrested and decided to start doing this.”

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  34. Mother of Delano Walker awarded $1.3 million

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    “The number is less important. The fact that a jury of nine people from Western Massachusetts found that Delano Walker’s civil rights were violated by the police was just a huge statement to me,” Hoose said. “The testimony the police gave at this trial showed an appalling lack of understanding of what justifies a lawful stop.”
    Mother of Delano Walker, Springfield teen struck and killed by car during confrontation with police, awarded $1.3 million [MassLive]