SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments on a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Committee for Public Counsel Services against the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office Wednesday.
The lawsuit seeks a state investigation into allegations of systemic violence, false reporting, and other alleged misconduct by the Springfield Police Department, according to the ACLU.
It also seeks the disclosure of misconduct to all defendants whose cases may have included police officers who were identified as having engaged in misconduct.
In July 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a report about six years of routine excessive force and false reporting by Springfield Police Department Narcotics Bureau officers, according to a news release from the ACLU of Massachusetts. After this report was released, the HCDAO, which prosecutes people based on assertions that are made by SPD officers, did not investigate this misconduct nor did anything on behalf of the Commonwealth.
The courts have made clear that the Commonwealth has a duty to investigate and disclose egregious misconduct committed by members of prosecution teams in response to the Massachusetts drug lab scandal. This case argues that this standard applies not only to chemists but also to police officers.
The ACLU of Massachusetts and the ACLU filed this lawsuit back in April of 2021 and asked the Supreme Judicial Court to declare that the state has to investigate the allegations of systemic Springfield police misconduct. The lawsuit was filed for the people and groups that were affected by these failures, and the two individuals who have been prosecuted in Springfield, two criminal defense lawyers who practice in Springfield, CPCS itself, and the bar advocate organization, Hampden County Lawyers for Justice.
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