Saturday, April 26, 2008

Springfield loses major law firm

After twenty years at their 1145 Main St., Springfield address, the law firm of of Sasson, Turnbull and Hoose is moving its main practice to Amherst. They say they plan to maintain a satellite office at their old address, but it won't be the same.

Although the firm is "full service," they are probably best known for their work in civil rights and criminal law, taking many cases with unpopular criminal defendants. Somebody has to do it, right? (Some of you would say no.)

David Hoose represented me after Arise was raided and Tory Field and I were charged with possession of hypodermic needles. He will always have my gratitude.

The firm's move is yet another loss for Springfield.
Nonprofit agrees to DA's terms
Saturday, October 02, 2004
Staff writer
SPRINGFIELD - An application for a criminal complaint against Arise for Social Justice was withdrawn yesterday, as the nonprofit group agreed not to run an unlicensed needle-exchange program in the future.
A search at the group's 94 Rifle Street office last month yielded 380 unused hypodermic syringes, 62 syringe preparation kits and a medical container of
used needles. Police said they would seek warrants against Arise's president, Michaelann C. Bewsee, 56, and an organizer, Tory L. Field, 28.

However, Hampden County District Attorney William M. Bennett said that he and the police together withdrew the application for a complaint.
"The purpose of the police action was to stop the activity, and that will be accomplished," Bennett said, crediting police with professional handling of
the Arise matter.

"They understand that reasonable people could disagree regarding the merits of needle exchange programs," Bennett said.

Bewsee and Field were summonsed to Springfield District Court yesterday for a show-cause hearing, which turned out to be brief. Lawyer David Hoose, who
represented Bewsee, said the district attorney's office decided against requesting the complaint "so long as our clients agree not to operate any
illegal needle-exchange in the future."

The case was continued for three months, Bennett said, to make sure the parties live up to the agreement. If they do, the case will be terminated.
Bennett characterized Arise's actions as well-intentioned but unlawful. City Councilor Bud L. Williams has said he is pushing forward with efforts
to start a legal needle-exchange program in Springfield. State law gives local elected officials the power to adopt a state Department of Public
Health-run needle-exchange program. Programs operate in Northampton, Cambridge, Boston and Provincetown.

Bennett said he doesn't favor such programs.

"The needle is given to a person who is going to use it to commit a crime, that is, possessing illegal drugs. Also, it creates the false impression
that there is a safe way to use dangerous drugs," Bennett said.

Proponents of needle-exchange programs maintain the spread of blood-borne diseases can be slowed if addicts who might otherwise share needles can be
supplied with clean ones.

About eight people, including Arise board member Polly Richardson, gathered at the Hall of Justice yesterday in support of Bewsee and Field. The
problem, Richardson said, is Springfield's failure to run a licensed needle-exchange program.

"This is negligence on the city council's part," Richardson said. "This is a public health issue we're talking about - that should be the focus of all of

Bewsee said that while she was personally relieved by yesterday's outcome, the problem of people needing clean needles remains. People from Springfield
requiring needle exchange can drive to Northampton and enroll in the Tapestry program, or drive to Connecticut, where needles are sold at
pharmacies, she said.

"I feel like we're at court today for something that shouldn't be illegal to begin with," Field said.

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