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Humberto Guzman

Other Massachusettes Cases With Inadequate Legal Defense
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In February 1990, police executing a search warrant in the basement of an apartment building in Boston, Massachusetts found several bags of cocaine. A resident of the building said she had seen 40-year-old Humberto Guzman and two other men in the basement sometime after Christmas.

Based on this information, police searched Guzman’s home and found a pager, cash and other items. A caller to the pager attempted to purchase cocaine from “Humberto."

Police arrested the caller and offered a deal if the caller would arrange a sale with “Humberto." The caller and another man completed the transaction with Humberto, and the police later arrested Guzman.

Guzman claimed that he was out of the country at the time of the sale and his cousin was using his name and apartment to conduct drug deals.

The officers and the resident of the building they spoke to were the only witnesses connecting Guzman to the drugs found in the apartment building.

Guzman went to trial in Suffolk County Superior Court in January 1992. His attorney failed to call the two men who purchased the cocaine because he had previously represented them on unrelated charges and was afraid the judge would remove him from Guzman’s case if he did. Moreover, Guzman’s attorney prevented the prosecution from calling one of the men to testify. The two buyers would have testified that Guzman was not the seller.

In January 1992, a jury found Guzman guilty of trafficking in cocaine and conspiracy to traffic in cocaine. He was sentenced to 18 to 20 years in prison.

Guzman sought a new trial on the ground that his defense attorney had provided in an inadequate legal defense. In October 1994, the trial judge overturned Guzman’s conviction and granted his motion for a new trial.

The state appealed, but in May 1996, the Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the granting of a new trial. In March 1997, while Guzman was awaiting a retrial, the two police officers who testified against him were indicted by a federal grand jury and pled guilty charges that they planted drugs and evidence.

Guzman filed a motion to dismiss the charges pending against him. In March 1997, a Superior Court judge granted the motion. The prosecution did not refile the charges.

Guzman filed a lawsuit seeking compensation from the state of Massachusetts. The lawsuit was settled for $250,000.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date:  Before June 2012
Last Updated: 9/18/2016
State:Massachusetts
County:Suffolk
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:Drug Possession or Sale
Reported Crime Date:1990
Convicted:1992
Exonerated:1997
Sentence:18 to 20 years
Race:Hispanic
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:40
Contributing Factors:Mistaken Witness ID, Inadequate Legal Defense
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No