Category: Archive

Boston cop still seeking justice

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Conley, now 36, was convicted in June 1998 of lying to a grand jury about what he saw during the early morning hours of Jan. 25, 1995 when a black police officer, Michael Cox, was severely beaten by fellow cops who apparently mistook him for one of several fleeing murder suspects. Jurors concluded that Conley, who apprehended one of the fleeing murder suspects, neither witnessed nor participated in the beating, but it agreed with federal prosecutor Theodore Merritt that Conley must have seen Cox at the scene moments before the attack, a charge that Conley denied. In September 1998, Conley was sentenced to 34 months in federal prison.
In December 1998, three police officers — two black and one white — were found liable by a jury in a federal civil case for Cox’s beating and abandonment. Conley was found not liable by that same jury, and yet he remains the only person ever criminally charged in the case. His case has been in the courts system since.
In July 2002, the three-member panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals denied Conley’s bid for a new trial and ordered him to begin serving his sentence.
By then, Conley was being represented by former President Clinton’s lawyer, Robert Bennett, who took the case pro-bono at the request of Conley supporters in Washington, D.C. Bennett then sought a review of the case by the full panel of the Appeals Court, which agreed to hear the case.
In a brief filed with the full court, Bennett stated that “the prosecution’s razor-thin case was wholly circumstantial and depended completely upon the credibility of a few problematic witnesses.”
In August 2004, Judge William Young overturned Conley’s conviction after concluding that Conley had not received a fair trial.
Two months later, U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan alerted Young that his office planned to appeal his decision. Prosecutors are now awaiting word from the U.S. solicitor general about whether they can proceed with that appeal. That decision is expected later this week.
If the solicitor determines that prosecutors cannot appeal, Sullivan’s office would still have the option of retrying Conley, a prospect that appears unlikely given that a decade has now passed since Michael Cox was beaten by fellow Boston police officers on that dimly lit cul-de-sac in Mattapan.

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