Working with Secretary Daniel Bennett of the Executive Office of
Public Safety and Security (EOPSS), Massachusetts Bar Association
President-elect Robert W. Harnais has secured records pertaining to
39,000 cases where the Draeger 9150 alcohol breath test device was
involved. An earlier EOPSS review of the Draeger 9150 cases found
approximately 150 instances of invalid results due to "operator
error." The MBA will now be able to review the same information
about potentially faulty drunk driving tests, which has also been
provided to district attorneys and the Committee for Public Counsel
Services (CPCS), the state public defender's office.
"While the number of cases impacted by improper use or calibration
of the Draeger 9150 appears to be limited, both Secretary Bennett
and I agree that any miscarriage of justice is unacceptable and
that lawyers should also have the opportunity to review these
records in order to determine exactly which cases may have been
tainted by error," said Harnais.
"The Massachusetts Bar Association has a long-standing commitment
to ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system," Harnais
continued. "We appreciate Secretary Bennett's willingness to work
with the bar to help make sure drunk-driving convictions in the
commonwealth are based on accurate and reliable information."
In May, after concerns about accuracy of the machines, several
district attorneys suspended use of the breath tests. Following
calls from the Massachusetts Bar Association for more transparency,
Secretary Bennett met with Harnais to address the bar's concerns
and agreed to give defense attorneys, via the district attorneys,
access to the same information and data previously shared with the
district attorneys. Harnais said: "The release of this information
makes unnecessary the need for any additional review by the
Attorney General's Office, but we are grateful for Attorney General
Maura Healey's work with the MBA and her continued commitment to
fairness and transparency in the criminal justice system."
Due to CORI restrictions, the materials provided are restricted to
lawyer-review only. Defense lawyers with concerns or questions
about particular cases should contact CPCS.