Sunday, March 26, 2017
Prosecutors' Time Limit Response Under Seal
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Federal prosecutors have filed their response to a judge's order aimed at setting time limits on the case against the second major defendant in the criminal case stemming from a deadly fungal meningitis outbreak.
The government response to the order from U.S. District Judge Richard G. Stearns in the case against Glenn A. Chin was filed late last week under seal, which means it is not available for public review.
The filing comes just after the case of Barry J. Cadden came to a close with the jury convicting him on racketeering and mail fraud but acquitting him on 25 counts of second degree murder.
Cadden was the pharmacist in charge and part owner of the New England Compounding Center, the company blamed for the 2012 outbreak. Chin was a supervising pharmacist at NECC and oversaw operations in the clean room where fungus laden vials of a spinal steroid were prepared.
Chin faces the same charges as Cadden did, racketeering, mail fraud and second degree murder.
Stearns issued the order in February aimed at limiting the length of the Chin trial in the midst of the Cadden trial, which Stearns described as the longest case in the history of the courthouse. It opened in 1988.
Citing the lengthy case, federal prosecutors sought and obtained an extension from Stearns on the deadline for filing their trial shortening proposal.
In his six-page February order Stearns wrote that time limits improve "the quality of jury comprehension" and enable the court "to efficiently manage its docket."
He also expressed concern about the effect on jurors of "mega trials," trials that are measured in months rather than days.
Initially Chin and Cadden were set to be tried at the same time, but as the trial date approached, Cadden's lawyers disclosed that a major part of their defense would be to blame Chin. They did so frequently in the trial that just ended.