SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – While the state’s highest court found 27,000 people are eligible for a new trial because of flawed breathalyzer test results, the path to justice could take time and money.
One criminal defense office is already seeing a flood of phone calls in response to this decision and that could mean a backlog for the court system. Attorney Raipher Pellegrino is concerned 27,000 people will have to spend even more time and money to have a new trial.
“Perhaps it’s something the Supreme Judicial Court should look at a different form of relief. Perhaps just adjudicating all of those cases not guilty and entering them on the record just so these people are not revictimized,” said Pellegrino.
The decision impacts people who either pleaded guilty or were convicted of an OUI offense between June 1st of 2011 through April 18th of 2019. AIC Criminal Justice Professor Jennifer Feitel said breathalyzers have been a key part of policing for years and this could only be the beginning of the legal process in seeking justice for these defendants.
“That’s going to be difficult to unravel what happened to them personally, especially if it wasn’t financial. If it caused trauma, they could have lost their job. Now they might have to go back to their job and appeal maybe a firing and try to get their job back and that could go back 10 years,” said Feitel.
Professor Feitel hopes this will also encourage other departments across the country to take a look at their breathalyzer systems to make sure they are providing accurate results.