Conley: Gun Court Successes One Year Later

Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley today announced that the Firearm Prosecution Disposition Sessions he launched one year ago have been a resounding success, with Suffolk prosecutors prevailing in more than 87% of their cases while simultaneously clearing a three-year backlog.

The Firearm Prosecution Disposition Sessions, commonly known as Gun Court, were instituted on Feb. 21, 2006, under Conley’s leadership and in cooperation with Chief Justice Charles Johnson of the Boston Municipal Court Department. In the year that followed, almost 300 cases have been disposed and the average time between arraignment and resolution for a gun case was cut by more than half.

Most importantly, members of the Gun Prosecution Unit have won convictions in 87.6% of the gun crimes handled in Gun Court, leading to stiff jail terms for those charged with possessing, carrying, or using firearms on the streets of Boston.

“Gun Court has met or exceeded every goal we set for it,” Conley said. “Its effectiveness as a punishment and deterrent for those who would use guns in our city is indisputable.”

Initially conceived as a means to reduce the one-year average that a gun case spent in district court, the Firearm Prosecution Disposition Sessions soon proved valuable in clearing older cases that had been in the system since as early as 2004. By November 2006, there were no pending cases more than eleven months old, and new cases were being resolved in an average of six months. Notably, conviction rates did not suffer as a result of that increased efficiency.

Gun Court prosecutors have resolved a total 295 cases involving defendants arrested for unlawfully carrying a firearm under Ch. 269, Sect. 10(a) of the Massachusetts General Laws, unlawfully possessing a firearm under Ch. 269, Sect. 10(h), or unlawfully carrying a loaded firearm under Ch. 269, Sect. 10(n).

Of 213 viable cases – those in which probable cause existed for arrest, possession of the gun was not claimed by a co-defendant, the gun was operational, victims were forthcoming, and the case remained in district court – a total of 170 individuals were convicted. An additional 34 cases were indicted to Superior Court, where defendants face much harsher penalties for gun possession and related offenses.

“Gun court has been successful not only in taking guns off the street but in keeping gun offenders from returning to criminal activity,” Conley added. “I have no doubt that the significant reduction in homicides by firearm last year is due in part to Gun Court’s effectiveness.”

Conley hailed the partnership of multiple other agencies whose cooperation has been instrumental in achieving Gun Court’s success, citing the Trial Court of the Commonwealth, the Boston Police Department, and the Department of Probation as valued partners.

Chart illustrating Gun Court Successes
File Type: PDF
File Size: 0.2MB