Hi to everybody,
I wanted to give everyone a quick update on recent events regarding the civil rights lawsuit I filed against the Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC).
As I’m sure you remember, last February (2016), prison officials here at MCI-Concord threatened me and then retaliated against me because I cooperated with the reporter from Boston Magazine, who was writing an article about my wrongful conviction. Prison officials were angry at me and decided they would punish me by removing me from the NEADS Service Dog Program. Over the course of the two years that I had been in the program, I had trained three dogs that were placed with disabled children. Well, after my punitive removal I filed a federal lawsuit against the DOC in U.S. District Court (Peixoto v. Lois Russo, et. al.)
Attorney Sonja Deyoe stepped forward and offered to represent me in the suit, pro bon. The DOC lawyer then filed a motion with the court to have my lawsuit dismissed. He argued that I do not have a Constitutional right to communicate with the media and that DOC officials did not threaten or retaliate against me for doing so and that I did not have a protected right in being in the program to begin with so I had no rights to protect in the suit. Subsequently, the court held a hearing where Sonja aggressively argued against the DOC lawyer on my behalf.
Amazingly, I am happy to announce that Sonja was successful. The court ruled in our favor and denied the DOC’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. In the court’s decision the judge agreed with us and stated that a jury could find that “prison officials took adverse action” against me and had “the intent to retaliate,” when they removed me from the NEADS Program. Further, the judge stated that a jury could find that these prison officials acted with “intent” to threaten and intimidate me in order to discourage my communication with the media.
This is wonderful news. Sonja did an amazing job in fighting for me and my civil rights. This is an incredible David v. Goliath win. With Sonja’s help, we were able to stop omnipotent prison officials from abusing their power and from threatening and intimidating those weaker and in their care. We are hopeful that very soon the DOC will be forced to do the right thing and put me back in the NEADS Service Dog Program and to stop any further abuse against me simply for proclaiming my innocence and fighting to be freed from my wrongful imprisonment.
Thank you, Sonja.