(Boston, Revised 07/28/10) New England Law | Boston: A Boston Bar Association (BBA) task force that includes Professor David Siegel, director of the Center for Law and Social Responsibility, has issued proposals that promise significant improvements to criminal justice policy and practice in Massachusetts. The group’s recommendations could reduce the risk of wrongful convictions, boost convictions of those who commit crimes, and reduce the need for hearings to suppress evidence.
"Getting It Right, Improving the Accuracy and Reliability of the Criminal Justice System in Massachusetts" is the result of efforts by prosecutors, police, forensic analysts, defense lawyers, public defenders, and one academic – Professor Siegel. The BBA describes the 20-person task force as “the broadest group of major players in the criminal justice system ever assembled to prevent wrongful convictions in the Bay State.”
“This report identifies specific reforms in eyewitness identification, suspect interviews, forensic analysis, post conviction proceedings, and prosecutorial and defense practices,” noted Siegel. “These measures will reduce the risk of wrongful conviction and increase the likelihood of identifying the true perpetrators.”
Massachusetts is one of only four states without a law providing post-conviction access to and testing of evidence by inmates who have a viable claim of innocence. “The task force recommends this type of statute so that evidence that is material to determining guilt or innocence is given its day in court,” explained Siegel.
Professor Siegel directs the law school’s Criminal Justice Project and teaches Comparative Criminal Procedure, Criminal Advocacy, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Clinical Evidence, Evidence, and Mental Health Issues in the Criminal Process. He is a founding member and serves as a trustee of the New England Innocence Project, which works to identify and exonerate wrongly convicted individuals through the use of DNA evidence. The organization also considers cases in which scientific testing or other investigative leads could help establish innocence.