Thursday, December 1, 2016
Motion To Delay NECC Criminal Trial Swiftly Denied
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Without a hearing or even waiting for federal prosecutors to respond, the judge presiding over the criminal trials stemming from a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak has denied a motion by a key defendant to delay his trial on murder charges for three months.
In a brief order issued today U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns denied the delay request filed by Glenn Chin, the former pharmacist who is facing 25 counts of second degree murder.
Chin, in a motion filed late last week, had cited the need to review reams of new documents provided by prosecutors and a repository of related documents from a civil case while his trial date was barely a month away.
Chin, through his lawyer, Stephen Weymouth, had also argued that his codefendant, Barry Cadden, had gained access to the civil suit documents years earlier, giving him an unfair advantage.
Stearns, however, noted that Cadden, who is also facing second degree murder charges, had no obligation to share evidence with a codefendant.
Chin and Cadden are two of 14 persons connected to the New England Compounding Pharmacy, the defunct Framingham, Mass. drug firm blamed for the 2012 nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak which sickened 778 patients across the country. At least 77 of those patients died.
Chin had also charged that he had only recently learned that Cadden, relying on evidence from the civil case, intended to place all the blame for the outbreak on him.
Stearns ruled that regardless of whether the evidence might reflect badly on Chin, Cadden was under no obligation to make Chin aware of it.
Unlike prosecutors, Stearns wrote, "Cadden has no corresponding duty to disclose materials on which he intends to rely in his own defense, even if these may to some extent reflect adversely on Chin."
In any case, Stearns concluded, "it is highly unlikely that the document repository in the parallel civil litigation includes anything that has not already been produced in the millions of documents turned over by the government."
Stearns decision means Cadden and Chin will go on trial as previously scheduled early next year.
In addition to the second degree murder charges the two are facing charges of racketeering, conspiracy and mail fraud.
Cadden was a part owner and chief pharmacist for NECC, while Chin was a supervising pharmacist.
Two of the original 14 NECC defendants have pleaded guilty to reduced charges and avoided any jail time. Two others, including Chin's wife, have had all charges dismissed, but the U.S. Attorney has appealed that decision to the First Circuit Court of appeals.
The remaining defendants are scheduled for trial in April.