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MA court: DAs can't participate in rewards

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Bristol District Attorney Sam Sutter says he hopes a ruling from the state’s highest court barring prosecutors from participating in reward programs will not discourage witnesses to violent crimes from coming forward.

The ruling came Monday in the case of Wayne Miranda, a New Bedford man who was convicted of second-degree murder.

The Supreme Judicial Court upheld Miranda’s conviction, but the justices said they “expressly disapprove” of verification letters prosecutors sent to the local chamber of commerce confirming the testimony of two witnesses who received reward money. The chamber pays $3,000 for information that helps lead to an indictment and another $2,000 for information leading to a conviction.

Sutter said his office will no longer send verification letters, but hopes the ruling will not hinder efforts to persuade witnesses to testify.

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