Graham v. Hampden County District Attorney
Federal and state constitutional law requires prosecutors to inquire into and disclose misconduct by members of their prosecution teams. In Massachusetts, the Supreme Judicial Court has applied those principles, and others, in cases that have led to the mass exoneration of people convicted of drug crimes with the assistance of former state chemists who committed misconduct. In Graham, the ACLU and public defenders are asking the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to apply those same principles to a situation where the U.S. Department of Justice has alleged a pattern or practice of misconduct by members of a police department—specifically, the Narcotics Bureau of the Springfield (MA) Police Department. The Springfield investigation was the DOJ’s sole pattern-or-practice investigation during the Trump Administration, but the DOJ has opened several such investigations during the Biden Administration. Graham appears to be the first state supreme court case in the country to consider whether DOJ pattern-or-practice findings can trigger duties under state law to investigate and disclose the misconduct alleged by the DOJ.