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Black, Muslim man who pleaded guilty to being a violent, drug running pimp seeks new trial because his lawyer was a virulent racist Islamophobe

The state's highest court is considering the question of whether a hate-spewing lawyer ranting on Facebook can put aside his abhorrent beliefs when he walks into a courthouse and fairly represent somebody who is a member of groups he despises.

The Supreme Judicial Court last week heard oral arguments in a case involving Anthony Dew, a Black, Muslim man who pleaded guilty in 2016 to hiring at least five women as prostitutes to fulfill online sex ads in apartments on Maxwell and Adams streets in Dorchester, used heroin, crack and the threat of violence to keep them in line and beat one of them. Dew is seeking a new trial because his trial attorney, Richard Doyle, posted repeated racist and anti-Muslim messages on his public Facebook page - which he did not find out about until well after he'd been sentenced to 8-10 years in state prison and 7 years of probation.

These posts, between 2014 and 2016, included captioning a photo of pig testicles with the caption: "Dear muslims, kiss our big bacon balls," calling Colin Kaepernick "boy," and referring to Black defendants in Suffolk Superior Court as "assorted thugs and bad guys." He also expressed his desire to round up what he considered illegal immigrants and "give 'em the Jimmy Hoffa treatment."

Doyle represented roughly 6,700 indigent clients for the Committee for Public Counsel Services over his career before CPCS learned of his posts and took him off cases, died in 2021.

During arguments, justices agreed that Doyle's Facebook posts were horrible, but they questioned Dew's current attorney, Edward Gaffney, whether Doyle's life outside the courthouse precluded him from providing fair representation to his client inside a courtroom.

Justice Frank Gaziano said there were "thousands of cases" involving lawyers representing people they would not otherwise associate with. "We expect defense attorneys to represent reprehensible people and they do so without actual conflict all the time," he said, noting that even neo-Nazis accused of hate crimes get lawyers who commit themselves to getting their clients the best possible legal outcome.

Gaffney responded that in Dew's case, there were three specific examples of how Doyle had it in for Dew, all involving the kufi, a type of hat, or cap, that Dew wore. The first time they met, in the Nashua Street Jail, Doyle told his new client "not to wear that shit in a courtroom." Two weeks later, at another meeting at the jail, Doyle saw Dew wearing the kufi again and simply turned around and walked out. Then, before a court appearance, Doyle demanded Dew remove his kufi.

The justices noted that Doyle had argued that he wanted to win, that he was able to get Dew his day in court. His record seemed to show "he did what he was supposed to as a reasonably prudent lawyer," Justice Serge Georges suggested.

But Gaffney urged the justices to look beyond the kufi incidents, to the fact that Doyle was not expressing his opinions on people accused of awful crimes, but of people who are part of federally protected classes, such as Blacks and Muslims. A lawyer with such a "warped distorted lens of racism" is a fundamental, Constitutional problem for a client in one or more of those groups even if he does not spit the epithets at them that he was posting on Facebook, he argued.

And by expressing public hatred, he was helping to normalize violence outside the courtroom against the people he condemned, to the point that "Mr. Dew is made unsafe in this country, in the Commonwealth," Gaffney said.

"If you hate the person that you represent, that is the [legal and constitutional] conflict," he said, urging the court to establish a new rule on lawyers so fundamentally biased that it overrules their urge to win a case. "We fought a war, we amended the Constitution three times," he said. "It's 2023 and we're still talking about this."

In its own filing, the Suffolk County District Attorney's office acknowledged Doyle's posts were "shocking and profoundly disturbing," but urged the court to deny Dew's request for a new trial because the state-funded CPCS only learned of them roughly 15 months after Dew's plea and because "Doyle’s extra-judicial expressions of bigotry alone, without any evidence that they affected the defendant’s case, do not automatically require reversal of the defendant’s convictions for heinous crimes against vulnerable women."

Justices told Gaffney that should they agree with him, they would need to figure out how far back to go with both Facebook cases and clients. Gaffney said he doubted all 6,700 cases Doyle handled would need review. He said CPCS notified all the clients it could find and 50 to 60 responded. He said he has three other clients pursuing new trials and that he knows of four other cases being handled by other lawyers.

SJC docket for the case - includes filings by lawyers in the case and interested parties and a link to video of the court's Feb. 8 hearing.

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that headline covers a lot of ground, nice

Voting closed 15

One does wonder exactly how sincere the plaintiff's beliefs are.

Voting closed 28

It doesn't matter whether the plaintiff's beliefs are sincere--what matters here is that his attorney perceived him as Muslim, and was biased against Muslims.

It's wrong to often illegal to discriminate against people for what they believe, and just as wrong to discriminate against someone for what you incorrectly think they believe. The plaintiff's state of mind is irrelevant. There are situations in which the defendant's state of mind matters, but this isn't one of them--there's no question of whether he was competent to stand trial.

Voting closed 29

that the bias negatively affected the representation, or the result.

Voting closed 2

While the basis of the hate may be religious affiliation, it is also a matter of cultural bias.

Remember: many non-observant Jews experience antisemitism and many people of Jewish ancestry who perished in the Nazi death camps were secular.

Voting closed 17

I've heard that the German and Polish Jewish population, so those who probably got the very worst of the Holocaust, were among the most assimilated in the world.

Voting closed 2

Your article refers only to 'Doyle' throughout without introducing him by first name.

Voting closed 11

The link for "kufi" doesn't work. Use https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kufi (you have a ' at the end of your link).

Voting closed 5


Voting closed 6

And get the scumbag a longer sentence.

Voting closed 27

2016 case. Destruction of evidence i.e. drugs in evidence rooms.
Disappearance of witnesses i.e. alleged drug-using prostitutes can't be found due to disorderly transient lives.

Sentiments of defense lawyer could lead them to roll over easily for a prosecutor's suggested sentence, tell the defendant it's the best resolution they will get.
Were all the meritorious pretrial suppression of evidence motions and motions in limine filed, posing an issue for the prosecution and strengthening the defendant's bargaining position?
Lawyer can also tell defendant that their chances at trial before a jury are worse than they were.
Did the lawyer pitch the plea bargain before one of the harsh judges in Superior Court, or take the chances to kick it down the road for the possibility of appearing before a more lenient judge? This is a real thing in Massachusetts Superior Courts.

Contempt for defendants is a real thing among a minority of appointed defense counsel. Leads to laziness. Racism is rare but present.

There's also a corresponding ideological frame among some lawyers which leads them to pull their punches in sexual assault and domestic violence cases. You shouldn't be a defense lawyer if you want to "believe all women" and not go after the complainant as savagely as you can.

Plea bargaining is not a science, it's an art which takes knowledge of the law, effort and good judgment enhanced by experience actually trying cases before juries.

"Zealous representation" is an ethical duty.

Voting closed 3

"We expect defense attorneys to represent reprehensible people and they do so without actual conflict all the time,"

That is entirely different from defendants being represented by reprehensible defense attorneys.

Voting closed 6

he may have represented by a reprehensible defense attorney, but that doesn't mean he wasn't provided an effective defense.

Voting closed 2

but so was the lawyer. There's a real argument for a new trial here.

Voting closed 9