A legal tradition in Massachusetts that calls for criminal convictions to be erased when a defendant dies before an appeal can be heard is coming under renewed scrutiny following the prison death of Aaron Hernandez.
A judge dismissed the murder conviction of the former NFL player in a 2013 killing after Hernandez was found hanging in his cell in April. His death was ruled a suicide.
Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan asked a legislative committee on Monday to endorse a bill that would end the practice of automatically dismissing convictions when a defendant dies before appeal. Under Ryan's proposal, convictions would stand but family members or defense attorneys could continue pursuing appeals.
Another bill, filed by Democratic Rep. Evandro Carvalho, would eliminate automatic dismissals when defendants take their own lives.