Massachusetts High Court Orders Hampden County DA to Disclose Police Misconduct Evidence
By Patrick Wilson
BOSTON – The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an opinion today ordering the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office to obtain and disclose evidence related to police misconduct uncovered in a 2020 federal investigation of the Springfield Police Department’s narcotics unit.
The order comes in a lawsuit brought by criminal defense organizations alleging the DA failed to properly investigate findings of routine falsification of police reports and use of excessive force documented in a Department of Justice report.
In the unanimous opinion, the state’s high court ruled the DA’s office violated its constitutional duty to disclose potentially exculpatory evidence to defendants by not fully gaining access to and sharing materials underlying the federal investigation.
To remedy this, the Court mandated the DA gather and turn over five broad categories of Springfield police records reviewed by federal investigators, subject to a protective order. This includes use-of-force reports, internal affairs files, and arrest reports dating back seven years.
The decision aims to uphold the integrity of the justice system by ensuring defendants can access relevant evidence of police misconduct that may impact their cases on an individual basis.
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