Appellate and Post-Conviction Proceedings
Our client came to us having been previously convicted second degree murder and serving a sentence of life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after a minimum of 15 years. We represented our client at the initial hearing before the Parole Board, after which the Parole Board voted unanimously to release our client on parole on the first parole petition, having served only 15 years in prison, a result occurring in only 2% of lifer parole hearings since 2011.
After our client had served 35 years in prison for first-degree murder, we filed a motion for new trial based on the Commonwealth’s failure to disclose exculpatory evidence prior to trial. The motion was allowed without opposition, the murder conviction was vacated, our client was released from custody, and the charges were dismissed by the court..
Representing a client who was convicted of aggravated rape and sentenced to a lengthy term of imprisonment, we persuaded the trial judge to vacate the conviction and order a new trial based upon the deliberating jury’s exposure to prejudicial information learned outside the courtroom.
We began representing our client following his conviction of first degree murder. After succeeding in obtaining a reversal of his conviction on appeal, we negotiated an agreement with the District Attorney which resulted in his pleading guilty to manslaughter and serving a total of less than ten years in prison.
After we obtained a reversal of our client’s first degree murder conviction and life sentence on appeal, we reached an agreement with the District Attorney under which our client pled guilty to the lesser offense of manslaughter. She was released after serving approximately five years in prison.
We argued on appeal that our client was entitled to effective assistance of counsel at a Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) classification hearing. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed and held that sex offenders have a statutory right to effective assistance of counsel during SORB proceedings.
Among its many appellate victories, Rankin & Sultan has succeeded in getting ten first degree murder convictions reversed.
• Commonwealth v. Woodbine, 461 Mass. 720 (2012)
• Commonwealth v. Toolan, 460 Mass. 452 (2011)
• Commonwealth v. Crawford, 429 Mass. 60 (1999)
• Commonwealth v. Williams, 428 Mass. 383 (1998)
• Commonwealth v. Magraw, 426 Mass. 589 (1998)
• Commonwealth v. Hunter, 416 Mass. 831 (1994)
• Commonwealth v. Adams, 416 Mass. 55 (1993)
• Commonwealth v. Francis, 411 Mass. 579 (1992)
• Commonwealth v. Skinner, 408 Mass. 88 (1990)
• Commonwealth v. Dias, 405 Mass. 131 (1989)