Monday, December 26, 2016
Victims Awaiting Word on Trial Attendance
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
With time running out victims of the 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak are awaiting word on whether they will be able to attend the upcoming criminal trials of employees and owners of the shuttered drug compounding firm blamed for the deadly outbreak.
The trial of Barry Cadden, the chief pharmacist and part owner of the New England Compounding Center, is set to begin with jury selection on Jan. 4. Opening arguments have been set for Jan. 9.
Cadden is facing multiple charges of second degree murder along with racketeering and other charges.
Co-defendant Glenn Chin, who also faces 25 second degree murder charges, will go on trial as soon as the Cadden trial is completed. Both trials will take place in U.S. District Court in Boston, Mass.
The U.S. Attorney's office has contacted victims or victims' survivors and asked them to fill out a questionnaire indicating whether they want to attend the trial. The victims and survivors are spread out over some 20 states.
The questionnaire states that the trial is estimated to run three to four months and indicates there may be a limit on the number of days victims will be able to attend. Other questions include whether or not the victim will be attending alone or with a relative or support person.
The questionnaire was sent out before U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns granted a motion by Cadden to sever his trial from Chin's.
Initially the office had indicated victims had the option of witnessing the trial in person or on closed circuit television in a local federal court house. More recently, however, victims were informed that the closed circuit option would not be available.
In the latest communication victims were told a decision would be made soon on how many could attend and how long they would be able to do so. Travel and accommodations will be paid for by the government.
Another question for victims is whether or not they'll be allowed to attend both the Cadden and Chin trials.
A third trial for the remaining eight defendants is set for early April.
Cadden's trial is likely to be shorter as his attorney has stated he will not dispute the prosecution's claim that drugs shipped from NECC caused the death and illnesses. Chin, meanwhile, has stated that he only recently learned that Cadden plans to blame him, and him alone, for the shipment of fungus loaded steroids.
The 2012 fungal meningitis outbreak sickened some 778 patients. At least 77 of them died.