Public defenders seek to dismiss cases involving disgraced Woburn police officer
Massachusetts public defense lawyers said Wednesday that every criminal court case should be dismissed that involved a Woburn police officer accused of helping plan a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia five years ago.
Woburn police officer John Donnelly resigned Monday amid accusations that he was actively involved in the 2017 "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville. The rally, attended by several Neo-Nazi groups and members of the Ku Klux Klan, resulted in the death of a counter-protestor. Woburn officials said they're continuing an internal investigation into the allegations.
Now, the Committee for Public Counsel Services, which provides lawyers to represent defendants who can't afford to hire an attorney, says there are questions around every case Donnelly worked on.
"It is our belief that every single case Officer Donnelly has ever touched, in his seven years of apparent disservice to the Woburn Police Department, should be dismissed," the public defender agency wrote in a letter to Woburn police chief Robert Rufo.
The letter also demands Woburn report what action it is taking to determine whether other officers were complicit or knew about Donnelly's actions. The agency is seeking all case documents and disciplinary records pertaining to Donnelly. It also asks for the documents that Woburn police submitted to the state's Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission to certify officers.
"We demand to know what steps have been taken or will be taken to determine whether other officers have also breached the trust of the Woburn Police Department and, more importantly, the community," said the letter from the public defenders agency.
Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan said her office is also reviewing what she called the "profoundly disturbing" allegations and is examining the criminal cases involving Donnelly.