I admit that my jaw dropped when I read today’s news alert in the Springfield Republican about the dismissal of all charges against racketeering and bribery defendant Peter Davis. Of 13 defendants, Davis was the only one to allow his case to go to trial. The rest took plea bargains in this very prominent case involving employees of the Springfield Housing Authority.
According to the report by Stephanie Barry, the statute of limitations for the evidence expired on July 9, 1999. Fraud charges were brought against the defendants five years later.
As Amherst-based blogger Tom Devine has long hoped, at least the Davis case allowed some details to emerge about what had been going on at the SHA. Knowing that the five-year statute of limitations apparently rendered the entire case dismissable, no matter how egregious the evidence, causes me to wonder what all those other defense lawyers were thinking. This raises more questions than answers. Was there serious doubt that the statute of limitations would halt this major case against the defendant(s)? (No worries there anymore.) Or was there simply an effort afoot to prevent even more dirty laundry from being aired, and thus the plea bargains were a better deal?
Is there a winner in this whole scenario?