Eric Shaughnessy of Plymouth claims he was set up for a 2007 drug arrest by an informant. He wants prosecutors to tell him who it was -- but the Supreme Judicial Court says prosecutors have a right to see Shaugnessy’s affidavit first.
A Plymouth man arrested in 2007 for prescription drug dealing wants prosecutors to identify their informant. But the state’s supreme court says he must first tell prosecutors who he thinks their informant was.
In a decision issued Thursday, the Supreme Judicial Court said Eric Shaughnessy must give prosecutors at least a summary of a now-sealed affidavit, so they can confirm or deny the identity of the informant before Shaughnessy can pursue his claim that he was set up for the arrest.
“If there was error in this case, it was not in the (Plymouth County Superior Court) judge's acceptance and review of the affidavit, but in the judge's failure to afford the Commonwealth an adequate opportunity to respond,” Supreme Court Justice Robert Cordy wrote.
Shaughnessy, 32, of 84 Winding Way in Plymouth, was arrested at his home in March 2007 as he was allegedly preparing to get about 100 OxyContin pills from his supplier. The supplier, Carlos Morel of Lynn, was at Shaughnessy’s home at the time and was also arrested.
Police staked out Shaughnessy’s home after the unnamed informant told them of planned buy. The informant had been arrested in Marshfield earlier the same day on unrelated charges.
He’d bought OxyContin from Shaughnessy in the past, and agreed to call Shaughnessy for a purported buy. The informant was at the Marshfield police station when he called Shaughnessy, who told him he had to get a supply. Police were watching when Morel, the supplier from Lynn, arrived. Shaughnessy was charged with possessing and dealing OxyContin.
Last year a Plymouth County judge accepted a sealed affidavit from Shaughnessy, in which he named the informant. The judge ordered prosecutors to confirm or deny the informant’s identity – and if his identity was confirmed, to say if they’d given him any promises or rewards.
Prosecutors then filed a motion to gain advance access to Shaughnessy’s affidavit. On Thursday the Supreme Judicial Court sent the case back to Superior Court, with orders to give prosecutors at least a summarized form of Shaughnessy’s affidavit, so the case can proceed.
Meanwhile, Shaughnessy’s charges stand and the informant’s identity remains confidential.
Lane Lambert may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the decision