Anatomy of a Bad Confession

On Thursday, February 16th, David Boeri, a friend, colleague, and sometimes co-conspirator is going to be joining WCVB Television's "Chronicle" to discuss an absolutely outrageous case of injustice: the story of a 16 year old girl who was coerced by the Worcester police department into confessing to the murder of her infant. 

The girl, Nga Truong, spent three years in jail before her release following a judge's order. After WBUR’s story aired in December, “Anatomy of A Bad Confession” prompted public outrage nationwide, calls for changes in the law and discipline of the police officers involved.

Now, Boeri continues to follow Truong’s story with a special half-hour report and an exclusive television interview with her for WCVB-TV. It airs on Chronicle this Thursday evening at 7:30. I truly believe that this is must-see TV. 

For more, click here.

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A profile in the Mass Law Journal

This month's issue of the Massachusetts Lawyers Journal contains a long profile of me. The piece discusses some of my background, my criminal work, and my work on students' rights cases. If you're curious, you can find the piece by clicking here
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Kevin White, the Feds, and the press

On January 27th of this year, Kevin White, the man often credited with helping turn Boston into the modern city it is, died after a long illness. Since then, there have been a number of news reports and editorial commentaries discussing White’s sixteen year run as mayor, his subsequent career as a Boston University professor, and even the final years of his political life—capped as it was by seemingly endless federal corruption investigations that nailed a few underlings, but despite then-US Attorney (later governor) Bill Weld’s best efforts, never landed the “Great White.”

But missing from most of the coverage has been a description of how the press played handmaiden to Bill Weld’s prosecutorial apparatus and prevented Mayor White from pursuing a fifth term in office. In my post to ThePhoenix.com, I relate a number of stories of prosecutorial targeting and abuse that were largely ignored—and even aided—by the mainstream media at the time. It seems to me that these stories cry out to be told, uncomfortable as they may be for so many participants, myself included.

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Boston College Researchers Drink with the IRA, and Academics Everywhere Get the Hangover

Often the most precipitous modes of inquiry are the most vital. Certainly, that was how Anthony McIntyre and Ed Maloney felt when they founded the Belfast Project, a Boston College-based oral history project that would solicit candid narratives of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. The wound in Ireland is still raw, and it is therefore unsurprising that Belfast Project interviewees were promised that their stories would be kept secret until their deaths.

But last month, a federal judge in Massachusetts ordered Boston College to turn over many of the transcripts in order to aid with the police investigation into a forty year old unsolved murder in Ireland. In our piece this week on Forbes.com, Daniel Schwartz and I discuss the judge’s decision and argue that, while it pays lip service to the importance of academic freedom, it does not go nearly far enough to protect society’s interests and could end up setting a very unfortunate precedent for scholars engaged in sensitive research. 

Take a look at an excerpt of our piece after the jump, or read it in its entirety by clicking here

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Censorship at Harvard Comes as No Surprise

On July 16th of last year, Subramanian Swamy, a longtime summer session professor of Economics at Harvard University, wrote a scathing op-ed in an Indian newspaper advocating radical political changes in response to the Mumbai terrorist attacks three days previous. While many members of the Harvard community were upset by Swamy’s suggestions—which included the replacing of Muslim holy sites with Hindu ones, and the denial of voting rights to those who do not concede India’s Hindu heritage—Harvard’s administration at first stood by their economics professor in the name of academic freedom. But the faculty found another way to get rid of ideas they deemed unacceptable; in an unprecedented maneuver, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences re-labeled Swamy’s speech “incitement” and voted last month to strip his course from the Summer School catalogue, a de-facto firing. The maneuver – to de-list a course from the catalogue as a way of effectively firing (without formally firing – a power that the faculty does not possess) a politically incorrect faculty member – is worthy of Machiavelli, but unworthy of a liberal arts institution of higher learning.

As a graduate of Harvard Law School and as someone who taught a course there in the mid-1980s just before the current censorial atmosphere took root, I wrote this piece with considerable sadness. On Forbes.com, I argue that the Harvard faculty’s move should come as no surprise, but rather fits into a decades-long and unfortunate pattern of censorship at the university. 

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