Byline: Gary V. Murray
WORCESTER -- The district attorney's overall conviction rate was up last year in Worcester Superior Court, but the percentage of defendants found guilty after trial was down from 2013.
Statistics released by District Attorney Joseph D. Early Jr. at the request of the Telegram & Gazette showed an overall conviction rate of 87.4 percent last year in Worcester Superior Court, where felony cases are heard, with 382 of 437 defendants whose cases were resolved being convicted of at least one crime.
In 2013, there were 483 criminal cases resolved in the court and Mr. Early's overall conviction rate was 86.1 percent.
The overall conviction rate includes cases disposed of by way of trial, guilty plea, dismissal or nol pros (prosecutor's decision not to proceed after a charge has been filed).
Of the 437 cases that were disposed of in 2014, 321, or 73.5 percent, were resolved by guilty pleas; 52, or 11.9 percent, were tried before a jury; nine, or 2.1 percent, were jury-waived trials with a judge serving as the finder of fact; and 55, or 12.5 percent, were either dismissed or nol prossed.
A total of 114 drug cases were resolved, with 87 or 76.3 percent resulting in convictions.
There were 61 defendants whose cases were tried last year in Worcester Superior Court, compared with 55 in 2013. Mr. Early's conviction rate after trial was 59 percent in 2014, down from 69 percent the previous year.
Mr. Early said the reduction resulted from a high percentage of acquittals in jury-waived trials. There were nine jury-waived trials last year in Worcester Superior Court and only one defendant, 11.1 percent, was found guilty.
Of the 52 defendants who opted for jury trials, 35, or 67.3 percent, were convicted.
"You look at the jury-waived trials and you say, 'Are you upset over that number?' The answer is no. First of all, these are only nine cases out of 437 and these are cases where there is usually an issue of law or some inherent problem with the case where a good defense lawyer will say, 'Let's get that in front of a judge,' '' the district attorney said.
Mr. Early noted that in 2013, eight of 13 jury-waived cases ended with guilty findings, for a 62...