Court grants new trial to Black Muslim man after lawyer is found to be racist and anti-Muslim

Court ruled there was a conflict of interest made by counsel's bigotry

Court grants new trial to Black Muslim man after lawyer is found to be racist and anti-Muslim

The highest court of Massachusetts has recognised the right to a new trial of a Black Muslim man previously convicted of sex trafficking, after it was discovered that the latter’s court-appointed lawyer had a track record of posting about “his vitriolic hatred of and bigotry” against Blacks and Muslims online.

In 2016, the late lawyer Richard Doyle advised defendant Anthony Dew to plead guilty to the multiple charges against him, which eventually led to Dew’s conviction and sentencing to imprisonment for eight to 10 years.

While Doyle had told Dew off multiple times for attending his own trial in a kufi or Muslim prayer cap, Dew was not aware that Doyle then liked to post extremely hateful content against Blacks and Muslims on his social media.

“These posts … included a variety of anti-Muslim slurs and statements calling for violence against and celebrating the death of persons of the Muslim faith [and] posts mocking Black individuals,” said the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, speaking through Associate Justice Dalila Argaez Wendlandt.

It concluded: “[The] conflict of interest inherent in counsel's bigotry against persons of the defendant's faith and race, which manifested during counsel's representation of the defendant, deprived the defendant of his right to effective assistance of counsel -- a right upon which our entire system of criminal justice depends to ensure a ‘fair trial’.” It thus vacated the convictions against Dew and remanded his case for a new trial, reversing a lower court judge’s decision denying Dew his motion.

Posts shared by Doyle throughout 2014 to 2017 included a photo of a pig with engorged testicles. Doyle’s caption read: “Dear Muslims … kiss our big bacon balls.”

Another post celebrated the torture of a “raghead terrorist prisoner”.

“This situation was so strange,” Dew’s appeals lawyer Edward Gaffney was quoted as saying after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court published its June 15 decision. “We could not find a similar case and we could not fit this extreme fact pattern into existing law.”

The court included detailed descriptions of Doyle’s bigoted posts in the decision’s footnotes “because Doyle's own words best capture the depth of his bigotry” – a decision the Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations particularly applauded.

“It’s often hard enough for members of marginalised communities to obtain justice in our criminal legal system,” the group’s legal director Barbara Dougan said. “Here, the court refused to minimise the level of religious and racial hatred that the defence attorney displayed – indeed, publicly posted for the world to see.”

While the court did not purport to know whether Doyle’s representation of Dew was in fact motivated by what the lawyer believed were in his client’s best interests, the court pointed out that it could not “credibly assume” that Doyle’s representation of Dew had not been affected by his “virulent anti-Muslim and racist views” based on the body of undisputed evidence before it.

Dew had successfully established that Doyle’s representation of him was impaired by an actual conflict of interest, the court concluded.

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