That is, ladies and gentlemen, an extremely high conviction rate. For comparison, here’s a round-up-ette of some Bay State courts’ conviction rates [via the Massachusetts Lawyer weekly]: “An analysis of the statewide Superior Court conviction rate in 2009 reveals that nearly two-thirds of the criminal defendants in Worcester County were acquitted of felony charges at trial. [For the math aversive, that’s just over a 25 percent conviction rate.] That stat is nearly 30 percentage points below the commonwealth’s overall trial conviction rate [make that around 50 percent, then] and 20 points lower than the county with the second worst results, Bristol County.” And you gotta think that the 50 percent-ish statewide stat includes some serious plea bargaining. Anyway, does that mean that the four-year-old Massachusetts Gun Court is kicking ass and taking names, or taking names and kicking ass? The Suffolk Couty DA in charge of such things is, surprise, claiming a major victory. [Note: 19 of 171 Gun Court cases ended in acquittal, yielding the headline stat. Read the DA’s four-year report here.] And, of course, Dan Conley’s linking the Court’s success to a reduction in violent crime. First, a little history from the man’s press release.
Conley conceived of the Gun Court after hearing repeatedly from community members who were frustrated that gun defendants were back on the street so soon after arraignment and for so long before their cases were finally resolved. He approached Chief Justice Charles Johnson of the Boston Municipal Court Department with a plan to centralize gun cases in order to address those concerns and to clear a large backload in the district courts with the largest number of gun cases.
Again, if you’re a hammer, does everything look like a nail? Or are gun-toting perps getting nailed as they should? We report. And scratch our collective head. The DA has no such qualms, obviously.
Appellate prosecutors assigned to the Gun Court have won more than 80% of their challenges to suppression orders, bringing guns back into evidence and setting the stage for trials or guilty pleas, The number of gun cases indicted from Gun Court to Suffolk Superior Court or adopted by Federal prosecutors jumped 18% from 2008 to 2009. The number of Boston homicides by firearm has fallen each year the Gun Court has been in operation, statistics indicate, from 55 in 2006 to 34 in 2009.
And the number of legal guns sold in the state has remained steady, FYI.