Wrongful Convictions

Over the past few years, Nardizzi & Associates has been retained for both post-conviction relief in criminal cases, as well as for civil cases (either state tort claims or federal civil rights cases) whereby an exoneree files a lawsuit against a state official for intentional misconduct that led to the wrongful conviction. Cases are handled on a fee basis or pro bono, depending on current case load. Currently, we have several criminal appeals underway, as well as several investigations of civil rights cases involving men who spent over twenty years in prison before clearing their names.

Recent case successes include:

~ In July 2014, client
Victor Rosario was freed after spending 32 years behind bars for a 1982 arson fire that killed eight people. A Middlesex Superior Court judge overturned Victor Rosario's one arson and eight murder convictions based on advances in arson forensics as well as major errors in the handling of the investigation, including interviews done with witnesses and Rosario himself.

~ a $3.1 million settlement for the wrongful conviction of
Dennis Maher for two rapes and an assault that occurred in 1983. Dennis Maher v. TOWN OF AYER, AYER POLICE DEPARTMENT, NANCY TAYLOR-HARRIS, CITY OF LOWELL, EDWARD F. DAVIS III, et al.; U.S. District Court Case, No. 06-CA-10514

~ a $3.4 million settlement for the wrongful conviction of
Kenneth Waters for the murder of a woman in May 1980. BETTY ANNE WATERS, Administratrix of the Estate of KENNETH WATERS v. TOWN OF AYER, NANCY TAYLOR-HARRIS, ARTHUR BOISSEAU, WILLIAM ADAMSON, and PHILIP L. CONNORS, U.S. District Court Case, No. 04-10521

~ Another client,
Michael O'Laughlin, filed a writ of habeas corpus and was successful in overturning of his conviction. MICHAEL O'LAUGHLIN, Petitioner, v. STEVEN O'BRIEN, Superintendent, Old Colony Correctional Center, Respondent, U.S. Court of Appeals For the First Circuit, Case No. 08-1010

Scott Hornoff, a Rhode Island police officer, served six years, four months and 18 days of a life sentence for another’s crime, and was freed on November 6, 2002, five days after the real killer, Todd Barry, confessed to the crime. We investigated the case to help Scott get backpay and reinstatement.

article discusses some issues that arise in wrongful conviction cases.

According to a study done by Professor Samuel R. Gross of the University of Michigan Law School [the Michigan study] between 1989 and 2003, a total of 328 exonerations occurred in the United States. The study counted exonerations conservatively: it did not account for mass exonerations in Los Angeles [the Rampart unit scandal] and Tulia, Texas [rogue officer framed 39 drug defendants]. According to the study, 145 of the wrongfully convicted were cleared by DNA evidence, 183 by other types of evidence. The sheer number of false convictions has exposed deep flaws in the criminal justice system--regarding, in particular, the use of informants, police interview tactics, and methods of eyewitness identification. The question raised by the release of these innocent people is obvious: how many more innocent people are rotting inside of U.S. prisons while the guilty roam free?

Other sites with information on wrongful convictions include:

Center on Wrongful Convictions

The Innocence Project

Death Penalty Information Center

New England Innocence Project