LEGAL AFFAIRS

Hundreds of Amherst College students rallied against racism following the discovery of a noose on Pratt Field Labor Day weekend 2017.
Diane Lederman / The Republican

Prosecutors will not to press hate crime charges -- or any charges at all -- against two juveniles who left a noose on the Amherst College football field over Labor Day weekend. 

The Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Mass.
Berkshire Museum / Creative Commons

Our panel of journalists looks at the big stories in the news. 

Not long after the state Supreme Court tossed his original felony convictions and ordered two new trials in 2016, former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez started getting a city pension worth $2,328.76 a month

About 100 people gathered in a park  in downtown Claremont Tuesday night for a vigil in response to an alleged attack of an eight year-old biracial boy in the city.

At the event, it didn’t take long before racial tensions were on full display. Organizer Rebecca MacKenzie was introducing the night's first speaker when she was interrupted by a white man, driving by and and yelling from his truck.


Jafet Robles (right), celebrates with City Councilor Adam Gomez.
File Photo / The Republican

Friends and fellow activists in the Springfield area are remembering Jafet Robles.

The 33-year-old organizer with the group Neighbor to Neighbor was found dead in Chicopee's Szot Park on Monday, and had been shot multiple times.

Springfield City Councilor Adam Gomez said Robles fought for a minimum wage hike, criminal justice reform and neighborhood issues in the city's North End. But Gomez also recalled a trip they took to Washington DC.

The Hampden County Hall of Justice in downtown Springfield, which houses the Superior Court
Don Treeger / The Republican

For years, court reporters have only been serving in Massachusetts Superior Court, which hears felony criminal cases and high-dollar civil cases.

But a test of a new digital recording system is now complete, and state plans to use it instead of the reporters. 

"There will be full-time court reporters on staff through June of 2018," said Jon Williams, administrator for the Massachusetts trial court. "For the most serious felony cases, we will use court reporters that we hire on a daily basis."

Former Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez pleaded guilty Thursday to charges he accepted a bribe from one contractor and tried to extort another, ending a decade-long saga that forced him from office in 2010, changed this city’s political landscape, and forever linked his “local boy does good” story with the word corruption. 

Former state chemist Sonja Farak at her 2013 arraignment.
File Photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette

Four years ago, a chemist with the state drug lab in Amherst, Massachusetts, was arrested for stealing drugs for herself and tampering with evidence.

Sonja Farak's case came on the heels of another scandal in eastern Massachusetts, in which state chemist Annie Dookhan was convicted of evidence tampering.

Former Lee Chief of Police Joseph Buffis leaves the Federal Courthouse in Springfield at the close of the court session on June 2, 2015.
Dave Roback / The Republican

Former Lee, Massachusetts, police chief Joseph Buffis lost an appeal this week to have a federal extortion charge thrown out. His lawyer said he's now appealing to the US Supreme Court.

In 2015, Buffis was found guilty of extorting a $4,000 donation to a toy fund he oversaw, and allegedly raided for his own use, from a couple arrested in connection with a prostitution ring.

His attorney, Seth Kretzer, said Buffis can't be guilty of extortion since one of those arrested offered money to make the case go away.

Northampton, Mass., police arrested Eric Matlock outside City Hall on Aug. 7, 2017.
Screenshot of Facebook video / Posted by Pamela Juda

A video showing Northampton police arresting a man who allegedly blocked the entrance to City Hall doesn't portray the whole story, the city's mayor said.

The video, which was posted to Facebook, shows 33-year-old Eric Matlock clinging to a railing on the steps in front of the building, as two police officers attempt to pull him away. He spits, and appears to gasp for air.

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