This month, the Supreme Judicial Court heard oral argument in Graham v. District Attorney for Hampden County, a case raising the questions of whether the Commonwealth has a duty to investigate the Springfield Police Department (SPD),what that duty entails, and what evidentiary disclosures state prosecutors must make about any exculpatory evidence that prosecution teams may have in events involving the police department. The decision will have significant implications for defendants wrongfully convicted of crimes based on false reports filed by police officers justifying use of force against defendants. CONTINUE READING ›
Considerable data shows that police stop Black people in the U.S. much more frequently than white people. At least some of these stops are motivated by racial profiling, implicit or explicit, in violation of the constitutional guarantee of equal protection. But how, in practice, can a Black defendant establish that the stop in his or her case was racially motivated—and use this fact to defeat a criminal charge?
Since its 2008 decision in Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court has been expanding the understanding of the constitutional right to bear arms under the Second Amendment. Heller held that the Second Amendment right is individual, and not limited to the context of an organized, “well-regulated militia.” In 2010, the Court held in McDonald that the right to bear arms applies to the states, not just against the federal government. Both Heller and McDonald addressed the context of keeping a firearm for self-defense in the home. But in the 2022 case of Bruen, the Supreme Court extended that right beyond the home, to include carrying a firearm in public, at least under some circumstances. State courts and legislatures are still grappling with the consequences of that decision.