Attorney Leonard H. Cohen of Pittsfield Massachusetts has been practicing criminal law for over half a decade. Yet, in 2005 he forever ruined my life by losing a case that any second-year law student would have easily won. As a partner with the prestigious law firm of Cain, Hibbard, Myers and Cook, Leonard Cohen took my parent’s hard earned money, under the guise of being an attorney hellbent on defending me. He portrayed himself as a man of integrity, a legal guru who wouldn’t give up until he’d exposed the corrupt investigative practices conducted by members of the Pittsfield police department. He then proceeded to railroad me into an eight-year prison sentence, laughing at my parents all the way.
Leonard Cohen’s office sat less than five minutes walk from the Pittsfield Massachusetts police station. Despite such close proximity, he failed to access the police station’s evidence room to verify the existence of an item allegedly confiscated from my home by Pittsfield police detective James Casey. The item in question: a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt, matching the description of a garment worn by a sought after perpetrator.
The interim between my arrest and trial was almost two years. TWO YEARS, almost 730 days, yet in all that time Cohen couldn’t be bothered to visit the police station. He harbored no interest in personally examining the sweatshirt (a piece of evidence being used against me) or obtaining copies of evidence paperwork.
Had Cohen done his job, he would have discovered the following: Prior to arresting me, detective Casey asked his superior, Captain Patrick Barry, for permission to solicit the judge for a search warrant. When Captain Barry denied the request, Detective Casey rummaged through my home anyway, with no warrant or legal authority whatsoever. Coming up empty handed, feeling foolish, Casey fabricated the existence of a dark-colored sweatshirt and then documented the lie in his official February, 23, 2005 arrest report. A police report that speciously influenced grand jury members to indict me.
During trial I was a sitting duck on the witness stand. While grandstanding for the jury, second assistant district attorney Joan McMenemy launched into a tirade. She grilled me incessantly about the sweatshirt she believed to exist. Courtroom attendees became riveted, listening intently as I rebuffed McMenemy’s attacks, vehemently denying her unfounded allegations of a sweatshirt. But as McMenemy’s barrage continued, my credibility deteriorated. She had successfully convinced jury members that I was lying. And if I’m lying then I must be guilty.
McMenemy became enraged at my refusal to admit ownership of the sweatshirt. In desperation she called a sidebar conference and consulted with the judge. At that point the jury was immediately sequestered, no longer privy to what was being said in the courtroom. With jury members safely out of earshot, McMenemy told the judge that she couldn’t understand why I was being allowed to deny the existence of evidence when said evidence was documented in full by a Pittsfield police detective. As a result, she requested a 30-minute recess. At that point she summoned her intern and gave orders for the sweatshirt to be retrieved from the police station.
Bold as brass, Leonard Cohen approached me and said, “Well, you’re in trouble now, they’ve gone to get the sweatshirt. What do I say when the prosecutor starts waving your sweatshirt in front of the jury?” I was flabbergasted. Here it was February of 2007, detective Casey had falsified his arrest report way back in February of 2005, and in all that time my attorney had never made a five minute walk to the police station to verify existence of the sweatshirt?
McMenemy’s intern soon returned, looking rather sheepish, reporting that no sweatshirt had ever been catalogued relative to my case. And like lava spewing from a volcano the sordid details emerged. Pittsfield police detective James Casey had made false statements within an official arrest report. He’d offered a false instrument for filing. He lied to the district attorney. He intentionally mislead a grand jury. All criminal offenses for which he should be held accountable.
Unfortunately, jury members heard none of this. They were still conveniently out of earshot when the shocking developments were revealed. When the jury finally did reconvene, McMenemy merely stood up, stone-faced, and announced: “The prosecution rests.” I grew incredulous. A Second Assistant District Attorney was covering up the illicit activity of a corrupt police detective.
Even worse, attorney Leonard H. Cohen stood idly by and said nothing. He was preoccupied, probably deciding the best way to spend my parent’s hard earned money.