FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 2/22/2018
Contact: Alexa Daniel
Legislative & Public Policy Manager
Statement of the Boston Bar Association on Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley
The Boston Bar Association (BBA) salutes District
Attorney Dan Conley on his dedicated service to the people of Suffolk County—not
just for his 16 years heading the office, but also his nine years as a line
prosecutor. We thank him and wish him the best on his next
Prosecutors should be judged not on their win-loss records or the
high-profile cases they pursue but rather on their insight and their
leadership. DA Conley was certainly a national leader.
started out working in the trenches. By the time of his appointment as DA,
he already knew the ins and outs of not only the office but the city he has
always called home. I admire Dan’s leadership and would like to personally
wish him well,” BBA President Mark Smith said.
Early in his tenure, he
convened a task
force on eyewitness identification, bringing in defense attorneys and
academic experts to advise him on best practices, with the goal of ensuring that
no one was wrongfully prosecuted on the basis of unreliable eyewitness
evidence. The policies he implemented policies went beyond what even the
US Department of Justice had been recommending and provided a model not only for
law enforcement but for the Supreme Judicial Court as well.
the BBA convened its own task force on wrongful convictions in 2008, DA Conley’s
advancements helped inform their internal discussions and their ultimate
recommendations on eyewitness identification. His First Assistant DA (now Judge)
Joshua Wall also served on the task force. DA Conley understood that any
wrongful conviction is a double tragedy—both for the person mistakenly punished
and for justice itself, with the true perpetrator left at large.
He also led by example in the
human trafficking, as one of the first district attorneys in the nation to recognize that
the young women and girls arrested for sex trafficking-related crimes are frequently victims themselves,
often at the hands of traffickers. He implemented a Safe Harbor
program, that has been a national model, to divert them away from
prosecution and toward services to help them turn their lives around. As a
result, many women in the Boston area today have the opportunity to make the
most of their lives.
DA Conley’s faith in the benefits of diversion was
not limited to trafficking cases: He embraced the concept of pre-arraignment
diversion for juveniles, having never forgotten his early experience of
prosecuting scared young kids. His Juvenile Alternative Resolution program
was designed to steer offenders out of trouble and prevent them from racking up
criminal dispositions that would then haunt them for a lifetime. While the BBA
has long advocated for more inclusive criminal justice reform measures for
adults as well as young people, we commend DA Conley on his record of seeking
constructive solutions for juvenile offenders.
Finally, DA Conley led
through his hiring practices, putting together the talented, diverse staff of
prosecutors who handle thousands of cases each year.
We hope that the
next Suffolk County District Attorney will continue to lead in all these areas,
and more, following DA Conley’s example.
The Boston Bar Association traces its origins to meetings convened by John Adams, who provided pro bono representation to the British soldiers prosecuted for the Boston Massacre and went on to become the nation’s second president. Its mission is to advance the highest standards of excellence for the legal profession, facilitate access to justice, serve the community at large and promote diversity and inclusion.