Barnstable Needle Exchange Case May Get Fast-Track to Supreme Judicial Court

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Used needles strewn on the ground near a campsite in Hyannis.

Used needles strewn on the ground near a campsite in Hyannis.

BARNSTABLE – The lawsuit between the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod and the town of Barnstable over the organization’s needle exchange program could be headed straight to the state’s Supreme Judicial Court.

A joint motion was filed to bypass Barnstable Superior Court and move straight to Appeals Court. Due to the case’s statewide implications, the case could then be forwarded to the Supreme Judicial Court.

“We think that some SJC guidance will help both the programs and the towns siting these programs,” said Charles McLaughlin, the assistant town attorney for Barnstable.

The case against the town was filed after the Board of Health issued a cease-and-desist order against the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod’s needle exchange program in September. The order was issued due to public safety concerns stemming from the increasing number of used needles being found in Downtown Hyannis.

In December, a Super Court Judge ruled the needle program could continue through trial.

McLaughlin believes a Superior Court judge will respond to the motion soon.

“We would expect, I think probably, in the next week or two to hear from the court whether the local justice will want to hear arguments on this motion or whether they may agree with us on the face value of it and allow a motion, perhaps, without hearing,” he said.

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