Courts, Crime & Police

House Passes 'Three-Strikes' Bill

Thursday, July 19, 2012
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July 19, 2012


The Massachusetts House passed a controversial crime bill on July 18. Defense lawyers are criticizing the controversial measure, saying the bill is unusual in that it removes "any judicial discretion in sentencing."

1 Guest: Margaret Marshall

Monday, July 16, 2012
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July 16, 2012 

BOSTON — Former Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall stepped down in 2010 after serving on the court for 14 years. Her legacy was firmly established with the landmark 2003 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, but she could have remained on the court for several more years until mandatory retirement at age 70.
 
Still, she chose to leave in part because she doesn’t believe in staying at the party too long.
 
 “The tenure for life I think is a problem for the United States Supreme Court because we are living longer and longer,” Marshall told WGBH’s Emily Rooney in a wide-ranging interview.“It’s not an issue of competence. You need institutional renewal and you need to give younger generations and people a chance.”
 
A dawning awareness
 
Marshall’s own chance came after leaving her native South Africa — first coming to the U.S. as a high school exchange student in the early 1960s. “There was just something about this country and its freedom that absolutely captivated me,” she recalled. “I learned more about South Africa in Wilmington, Delaware, than I knew in South Africa.”
 
That’s because growing up in rural South Africa, Marshall knew very little about the apartheid government that strictly segregated the races. She said she had no clue about the lives of black South Africans, even those that worked as servants in her house: “It really was a kind of blindness which is very difficult to explain.”
 
Returning with open eyes
 
When Marshall returned to South Africa for college, she was focused on her country’s inequalities, joining the anti-apartheid National Union of South African Students. After several years of activism, she told Emily about her last major act of defiance in South Africa.
 
It was 1967. The Zulu chief and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Albert John Luthuli had died and apartheid laws barred whites from attending his funeral. Marshall thought it would be an injustice if no white person paid tribute to the great African statesman and she was determined to go.
 
Marshall recalled seeing thousands of black South Africans walking many miles to attend the funeral, purposely restricted to a remote area by the government. “There were six pallbearers wearing the uniform, the recognizable uniform of the African National Congress, Nelson Mandela’s party which was outlawed. I was there with Steven Biko, who was later killed by the police. And he turned to me and he said — I remember that as if it were yesterday — he said, ‘Margy, you the see, the African National Congress in not dead.’”
 
A conclusive act
 
Months later, Margaret Marshall left South Africa, for good it would turn out, to begin graduate studies at Harvard. Citing her political activism, the South African government barred Marshall from ever returning.
 
For more of Margaret Marshall’s story, including her thoughts on the landmark Goodrich decision, watch her interview with Emily Rooney online:
 

Rep. Henriquez's Accuser Breaks Silence

By Adam Reilly   |   Thursday, July 12, 2012
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July 12, 2012


DORCHESTER — Katherine Gonzalves, the young woman who was allegedly assaulted and held against her will by Democratic state representative Carlos Henriquez, broke her silence at a press conference on July 11.

“My credibility has been questioned and my private life has become the topic of speculation,” Gonzalves said. “Why? Because the man I was dating hit me and he is a public figure?”
 
After reading a brief statement that was light on details, the UMass Boston student sat silently and let her attorney Rick Brody do the talking.
 
“It’s not just people who look like batterers who are batterers. Good people hit their spouses, bad people hit their spouses,” said Brody.
 
Brody said his client met Henriquez when she was doing a research paper on the so-called Three Strikes bill. That led to a relationship that ended this week.
  
Brody said the press conference was intended to counter false claims about Gonzalves in the media. But when he was asked for specific examples, he refused to give them. 
 
“Katherine is a reasonable, thoughtful, well-spoken young woman who was put in a position with this man that resulted in the criminal process,” said Brody.
 
Gonzalves’s press conference came 2 days after Henriquez emphatically denied the charges against him.
 
In a statement posted to Facebook Henriquez said: “I have been accused of some serious charges. These charges are completely untrue.” Henriquez also said stopping violence against women has been one of his top priorities, adding — “Putting my hands on a woman is contradictory to my upbringing and my own morals.”



From the Archives: The Blackfriars Massacre

Thursday, June 28, 2012
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June 28, 2012

blackfriars massacre

 
Greater Boston has partnered with the Boston Globe to bring you a weekly feature called "From the Archives." Each Wednesday on Greater Boston, we will show one to two photos from the newspaper's archives. This weekly feature offers a glimpse into Boston's past.
 
This week, we look at … a terrifying murder spree.

On June 28, 1978, five bodies were found in the blood-splattered basement of the Blackfriars Pub on Summer Street in Boston. The gangland-style killing would be known as the "Blackfriars Massacre." The Suffolk County District Attorney said he “had never witnessed a more shocking crime.” Among the dead were club manager John (Jack) Kelly, a former radio and investigative television reporter who was known to associate with members of organized crime. Also killed were Charles Magarian, Peter Meroth, Freddie Delavega and Vincent Solmonte, the club’s owner. The victims were found shot in the head with either a .12 gauge shotgun, or a .25 caliber automatic or both — it was believed that there were two shooters. In 1979, Robert J. Italiano and William N. Ierardi were acquitted of the murder. They were the only suspects tried for this unsolved crime.

Would a Whitey 'License to Kill' Defense Hold Up?

By Emily Rooney   |   Tuesday, June 26, 2012
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June 26, 2012

 
BOSTON — Attorneys for James "Whitey" Bulger got a four-month extension for the mobster’s trial, which is now scheduled for early March 2013. But one former U.S. attorney said that if Bulger’s defense is that his crimes were protected by his informant status with the FBI, it probably won’t work.
 
Bulger was never indicted for any of the 19 murders he’s now accused of committing while he was an informant for the FBI. His attorney J.W. Carney said that’s because Bulger had immunity. However, former U.S. Attorney Donald Stern said no form of immunity covers murder.
 
"It would be unprecedented," he said. "Even if there was such a deal, to, if you will, give a license to kill, prospectively — immunity is typically given, when it's given at all, for crimes that have already happened."
 
Stern also said it’s the same tactic Bulger cohort Steven "The Rifleman" Flemmi tried when he was on trial — and it didn’t work then.
 
"What Jay Carney is doing here is a variation of what was tried unsuccessfully with Flemmi. Reading between the lines, I think he was saying that the prosecutors knew about the criminal activity of Bulger and de facto essentially gave him immunity," Stern said.
 
Back in 1998, then–FBI agent John Connolly told WGBH’s Greater Boston that the FBI was consumed with bringing down La Cosa Nostra, with Bulger’s help, and for that reason essentially turned a blind eye to anything Bulger did, including murder.
 
When asked whether he had ever asked Bulger if he'd killed anyone, Connolly responded, "Well, why would I do that? He was a source. The top-echelon criminal informant program was geared towards developing top-echelon mobsters, primarily Mafia members, who by definition have all killed at least once."
 
Connolly was later convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice for tipping off Whitey that he was about to be indicted. For that reason alone, Stern did not believe Connolly’s testimony would benefit Bulger.
 
"Connolly has been found guilty of having been engaged in a corrupt relationship between handler and informant," Stern said. "That corrupt relationship was extensive, it included Connolly's protecting Bulger and Flemmi for a significant period of time and there's evidence, obviously, that John Connolly received gifts and other things of monetary value during that relationship. What the incentive would be at this point may be simply to protect somebody who he thought had protected him in the past."

> > Hear more of the conversation with Donald Stern

On Beacon Hill, a Reaction to Arizona

By Sarah Birnbaum   |   Monday, June 25, 2012
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June 25, 2012

 
BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick — who has advocated for immigrant needs in the past — praised the U.S. Supreme Court for striking down key provisions of Arizona's crackdown on immigrants on June 25. But Patrick wasn't entirely satisfied. He called the Supreme Court ruling a mixed bag.
 
“Most of the provisions of the Arizona law have been ruled unconstitutional. That sounds right," he said. However, "some of the things that were preserved having to do with the ability to stop and ask questions, you know, you can see how that creates a climate of fear, especially if the Supreme Court has said you can’t actually do anything with that information.”
 
Patrick has favored expanding immigrant health care options, allowing in-state UMass tuition rates and providing driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants. But some advocates said he has failed to push immigration issues strongly enough on Beacon Hill.
 
As he was leaving his office, Patrick got into a heated exchange with students demanding a stronger stance.
 
“You know you said you were going to do something for us — at least give us licenses. I’m undocumented and I've been here for 8 years, I'm putting myself through school right now, I'm paying out-of-state [tuition]," one woman said.
 
"And I can’t do what the federal government won’t let me do," Patrick responded. "I tried to do that. But there's a federal law that prohibits it."
 
"We can’t just live in the shadows!" she said.
 
"I understand that! I’m on your side," Patrick said. "I’ve said that a million times. These provisions aren’t before me yet. I’ve been as clear as possible, not just with you but with the legislature, that if they come to me, it’s over,“
 
There are measures pending in the legislature that would require new immigration status checks for employment, state housing and driver's licenses. Patrick said if they get to his desk he’ll oppose them, though he didn’t explicitly promise a veto.

About the Authors
Adam Reilly Adam Reilly
Adam Reilly is a political reporter and associate producer for WGBH's Greater Boston.
Sarah Birnbaum
Sarah Birnbaum is WGBH News' State House reporter. Send her a news tip.

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