Two years after a Boston Bar Association work group issued recommendations
for preventing wrongful convictions, both the Massachusetts Senate and House
have passed legislation providing for access to post-conviction forensic
analysis. The legislation was drafted by the BBA Task Force on Preventing
Wrongful Convictions and filed this legislative session by Senator Cynthia Creem
and Representative John Fernandes.
"Today is a great day for Massachusetts," said BBA President Lisa C.
Goodheart. "When the task force began its work in 2008, the Commonwealth was one
of just four states without a statutory right of post-conviction access to DNA
evidence. In working on this legislation, we have had the benefit of the
experiences in other states, and this bill represents a long-overdue step
towards a stronger and fairer criminal justice system for the Commonwealth."
Given the role DNA testing has played in exonerating innocent but wrongly
convicted people, the legislation now on its way to the Governor's desk was the
most important recommendation of the BBA task force. The task force was
appointed by then BBA President Kathy Weinman, and co-chaired by Martin F.
Murphy, a partner at Foley Hoag, and David Meier, a partner at Todd & Weld,
and included a broad range of professionals from both ends of the criminal
justice spectrum, including prosecutors and defense attorneys.
"This legislation is a victory for justice, but it's also a win for public
safety," added Goodheart. "When the wrong person is convicted, a criminal
remains at large, free to commit additional crimes against other victims."
Goodheart credited the strong leadership of the Senate and House
throughout the process that led to today's result.