Sacco & Vanzetti

Rally to Save Sacco & Vanzetti

Rally to Save Sacco & Vanzetti

This year marks the 87th commemoration of the executions of Bartolomeo Vanzetti, and Nicola Sacco. The Hampden County Chapter of the Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty, The Sisters of Saint Joseph and other groups opposed to the death penalty have been commemorating the executions locally since 1991. Massachusetts abolished the death penalty in 1972 and efforts to revive it here have failed, but it still pertains to federal cases.

Memorial Commemoration Service on August 23rd

The memorial service for Sacco and Vanzetti is scheduled at Temple Sinai in Springfield from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on August 23rd, 2014.

Featured speaker Lois Ahrens founded and directs The Real Cost of Prisons Project, a national organization based in Northampton. It brings together activists, artists, justice policy researchers and those who directly experience the impact of mass incarceration in an effort to end mass criminalization.

John and Linda Thompson Receive Ken Childs Award

Lawyers John and Linda Thompson will receive the Ken Childs Award for their work on behalf of the local chapter and for their work in criminal defense cases. John Thompson has taught criminal law and run law clinics at Western New England University Law School. Linda Thompson is considered one of the leading criminal defense lawyers in Western Massachusetts.

The Sacco and Vanzetti Saga

Nicola Sacco & Bartolomeo Vanzetti

Nicola Sacco & Bartolomeo Vanzetti

Both Sacco and Vanzetti were Italian immigrants living in Massachusetts during the “Red Scare” of the early 1920’s.

On the night of December 24in the year 1921, several men robbed a shoe factory, which resulted in the theft of $15,000 and the deaths of two men.

A controversial trial in 1921 resulted in the men’s conviction, despite equivocal ballistics evidence and numerous witnesses who claimed Sacco had been in Boston’s North End and Vanzetti in Plymouth, Massachusetts on the day of the robbery. Both defendants had to recount their anarchist beliefs in court to explain why they had been found armed when arrested, leading to suspicions that this may have prejudiced the jury.

Since their deaths, a consensus of critical opinion has concluded that the two men were convicted largely because of anti-Italian prejudice and their anarchist political beliefs and were therefore unjustly executed. Investigations of the case continued throughout the 1930s and 1940s.

The publication of the men’s letters, containing eloquent professions of innocence, intensified belief in their wrongful execution. Additional ballistics tests and incriminating statements by the men’s acquaintances have clouded the case.

In 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation that Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly tried and convicted and that “any disgrace should be forever removed from their names”.

Mark Schand is Free at Last


Mark Schand was wrongfully convicted in Hampden Superior Court in November 1987 of the murder of Victoria Seymour, the shooting of Anthony Cooke, and the armed robbery of Charles Stokes.  That fact was established by the October 4, 2013 ruling by Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder that vacated Mark’s conviction and allowed him to walk out of the Hampden County Hall of Justice a free man that afternoon.

That ruling was the fruit of Thompson & Thompson’s collaboration with Centurion Ministries, a nationally acclaimed innocence project.  In Mark’s case, Centurion’s Executive Director James C. McCloskey and Richard Hepburn conducted an extensive investigation and produced newly discovered evidence that Thompson & Thompson turned over to Hampden District Attorney Mark Mastroianni. Attorneys Linda J. Thompson and John M. Thompson then filed a motion for a new trial, asserting that the newly discovered evidence proved that Mark Schand was innocent of these crimes and that his 1987 trial was unfair.  The District Attorney conducted his own investigation that confirmed Centurion’s revelations; an evidentiary hearing was conducted and the District Attorney then assented to Mark Schand’s motion, solely on the ground that the newly discovered evidence might have led to a different result in the trial.  A brief description of the case is found in Mark Schand’s Motion For Stay, located here.  The motion for new trial and memorandum in support, which give a detailed description of the case, are located here.

The only issue in this case was identification; no other evidence linked Mark Schand to these crimes.  The evidence in this case illustrates how easily very persuasive identification evidence can be fabricated by unscrupulous law enforcement officials, using bribery and suggestive methods to direct and encourage unscrupulous and unwitting witnesses to follow their lead.  It also shows how easily these manipulations can be concealed from defense counsel and the courts.

The Report and Recommendation To The Justices by the Supreme Judicial Court’s Study Group on Eyewitness Evidence, released in September, 2013, addresses many of the law enforcement methods that can unwittingly lead to misidentifications.  A link to that document is here.  Criminal defense lawyers are encouraged to study and incorporate these recommendations into their practices.  Of course, ethical and moral education is needed to counter the unscrupulous methods that led to Mark Schand’s wrongful conviction.  We hope that District Attorney Mastroianni’s actions in this case will prompt some serious reforms in Springfield Police Department standards and practices, and will alert criminal defense lawyers to the types of unscrupulous practices that it is their responsibility to dig out and expose.

From the Governor’s Council


Earned for the exoneration of Mark Schand.

Earned for the exoneration of Mark Schand.

Thompson & Thompson P.C. was honored by The Governor’s Council on the 31st of March, due to our efforts on behalf of Mark Schand, during his Motion for New Trial. We are grateful to have received such a commendation. It’s outcomes such as this, coupled with the safety and satisfaction of our clients, that drive us to strive for excellence in justice.

Mark Schand’s Media Coverage

A free man.

That’s a smile we could all get used to seeing.

We’re very pleased with the attention that Mark and his case have been getting from the local press, and other news outlets alike.

In fact, we’ve started a running list to keep track of all the wonderful things this granted Motion for New Trial has brought with it.


CBS News:

The National Registry of Exonerations:

And finally, a post from our great friends over at