In 1997, leaders in Boston’s legal community announced a crackdown on police perjury — a problem that had scandalized the city with wrongful convictions, botched trials, and few repercussions for police who lied under oath, says the Boston Globe. Eight years later, allegations of ”testilying,” as such false or misleading testimony is sometimes called, continue to tarnish Boston’s criminal justice system, because promised reforms never were implemented. The legal task force, responding to findings of a Globe investigation, had called for cases of false or misleading testimony by police to be referred to the trial court’s top judge, and then to police and prosecutors for possible action.
The task force met once with great fanfare, and never met again. The referral system was never used. ”[In] my three years as district attorney, I have not received a referral from a judicial official,” said Daniel Conley, Suffolk district attorney. A review of court records shows that he should have, if the system were working. New allegations cropped up almost immediately after the plan was unveiled. And in the first eight months of this year, five Boston police officers were chastised by judges or identified as giving false or misleading testimony. ”There’s no accountability,” said Rosemary Scapicchio, a Boston defense lawyer. ”Prosecutors are afraid to call them liars.” ”It’s a very serious issue,” said Suffolk Superior Court Judge Patrick J. King, ”that has led to many scandals in the past, and it’s something there’s no easy answer to.”