Because Michael did not have enough money to represent himself, a court appointed attorney was chosen.
The Innocence Project states that the indigent person is often assigned a lawyer who lacks the knowledge, skills, or even the spirit to defend a case properly.
An Innocence Project study found that 32% of the Wrongfully Convicted had sub par or outright incompetent legal help.
The above factors helped contribute to the wrongful conviction of Michael O’Laughlin.
From November 21, 2000, up until May 24, 2002, the defendant requested and suggested his attorney file meritorious motions concerning his innocence in conjunction with exculpatory evidence that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts obtained.
Michael requested a motion for change of venue be filed because his case met all the criteria necessary for a change of venue. The judge denied the motion. The defense attorney negligently and/or intentionally mislead Michael when he said “you can’t appeal the change of venue issue
until you're convicted.”
During a motion to dismiss the indictments, against Michael, the judge explained to the
prosecutor that he (prosecutor) knowingly violated Michael’s constitutional rights under article 12
of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. The prosecutor apologized before the court and the
judge denied the defendant’s motion. Michael asked his attorney if he could appeal this decision
and was negligently and/or intentionally told that he had to wait until he was convicted.
Michael requested that hand written notes by the victim that were extremely exculpatory, were
included in the Commonwealth’s discovery, and would be proof of another’s suspect’s motive be
introduced at trial. The defense attorney said he did not know how to introduce the notes at trial
Michael asked his attorney if a handwriting expert would be the correct approach and was
negligently and/or intentionally told “no.” The defense attorney failed to introduce any of the
exculpatory statements as evidence.
On October 9, 2001 the defense’s DNA expert informed the defense attorney that all blood
samples were contaminated and ultimately destroyed, at the Massachusetts Sate Police Crime
Laboratory. The second round of testing done on October 26, 2001 also proved to be
inconclusive. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts conceded to contaminating the samples
Michael asked his attorney to file a motion for loss or destroyed evidence because the DNA test
was exculpatory and would have proved his innocence. The defense attorney negligently and/or
intentionally refused to file the motion and found it trivial.
Michael asked his attorney to file a motion to suppress the “bat” which the prosecution argued
was the weapon when there was no conclusive evidence to link the bat to the crime. The defense
attorney negligently and/or intentionally refused to file a motion and stated “the bat is coming in
one way or another.”
Michael requested his attorney obtain all discovery material pertaining to his case. The defense
attorney gave a small laugh and said to Michael “it would take a dolly to bring all your discovery
here.” The defense attorney negligently and/or intentionally refused to furnish Michael with
discovery to this day.
Because of the inconclusive results of the DNA testing due to laboratory contamination a DNA
lawyer was assigned as co-counsel to Michael’s case and immediately filed a motion to request
a Daubert/Lanigan hearing. The judge denied the hearing. Both Michael’s lawyers were confused
by the judge’s ruling. Michael’s defense attorney negligently and/or intentionally refused to
appeal this decision to the single justice and said it was not an appealable issue until Michael
The defense attorney negligently and/or intentionally refused to subpoena Michael’s DNA expert
who witnessed the entire blood testing and reported in an affidavit that the DNA results could
fully exclude the victim and Michael.
The prosecution introduced at trial a picture of a pimple on Michael’s face and referred to it as an
injury that occurred from physical conflict with the victim. The defense attorney negligently and/or
intentionally refused to object or at Michael’s request consult an expert Dermatologist to prove it
was in fact a pimple. The defense attorney said, “it was not necessary, anyone could see it was
The defense attorney made many comments about being uncomfortable with cross-examining
the lead detective on the case. Michael requested that the co-counsel cross-examine the lead
detective, who had significant information regarding the victim stating that Michael was not her
assailant and many other crucial pieces of evidence leading to another suspect. The co-counsel
informed Michael he would be happy to question the lead detective if Michael’s lead attorney felt
uncomfortable. The lead attorney then changed his mind and assured Michael he was capable of
cross-examining the lead detective because he had many important questions concerning the
lead detective’s investigation and the victim’s statements. At the appropriate time during the trial
the judge asked Michael’s attorney if he would like to question the lead detective and he
negligently and/or intentionally declined after reassuring Michael he would indeed cross-examine
the lead detective.
For eighteen months Michael informed his attorney that he must testify. His attorney told Michael that he would be making the biggest mistake of his life to testify. The day before the trial
Michael’s attorneys manipulated, persuaded and threatened Michael not to testify. Moreover,
Michael’s attorney negligently and/or intentionally refused to prepare Michael for taking
questions on the stand.
Michael’s attorney negligently and/or intentionally refused to raise the attention to the trial judge
that the burglary indictment should be dropped and was the wrong charge considering the police
admitted there was no forced entry into the victim’s apartment nor was there any sign of anything
If not for the defense lawyer’s negligent conduct in his duty owed to Michael, his refusal to raise many of the issues Michael requested, and had he exercised reasonable defense skill Michael would have been found NOT GUILTY of the charges against him.