Malia may call hearings on OUI acquittal rates

December 21, 2012
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Local state Rep. Liz Malia, who is the chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, said she is open to holding hearings on the high-acquittal rates in the state when it comes to jury-waived operating under the influence (OUI) trials.

“This is something that needs to be looked at,” said Malia.

The Jamaica Plain-based West Roxbury District Court at 445 Arborway has one of the highest acquittal rates in the state when it comes to jury-waived operating under the influence (OUI) trials, as the Gazette previously reported.

A special report commissioned by the state Supreme Judicial Court found that West Roxbury Court had a 100-percent acquittal rate between Jan. 1, 2008 and Sept. 30, 2011 when an OUI defendant chose a trial in front of a judge instead of a jury.

Malia said if she is still on the committee when the state legislature convenes next year, she would be open to looking at the issue. She said it would probably be a joint hearing with other committees. Malia said the courts need to be a partner in reducing operating under the influence cases.

Malia also said there needs to be a proactive approach to the issue, such as using intervention and treatment options. She said there are “alarming statistics” when it comes to the rise of prescription drug overdoses and noted that many who abuse prescription drugs mix them with alcohol.

Corrected version: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified Malia as vice chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse.

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