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Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Massachusetts assault case involving an interesting evidentiary issue. Specifically, the case required the court to determine if it was an error to admit the official criminal docket of the defendant’s friend whom he was with when he allegedly committed the assault. The docket indicated that the defendant’s friend pleaded guilty to a similar crime, involving the possession of a weapon. Ultimately, the court concluded that admission of the docket was a constitutional error that necessitated a new trial.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant and a friend, Charles, were involved in an altercation with two other men. Initially, the defendant and Charles saw one of the men at a gas station, where the confrontation began. However, as the man drove from the gas station to a friend’s home, the defendant and Charles followed.

When the man parked in the driveway at his friend’s house, the defendant pulled behind. The defendant then got out and approached the driver’s side window of the man’s truck. At some point, the man rolled the window down slightly and the defendant pushed it down the rest of the way and struck him in the face. The man’s friend, who was sitting on the porch, ran down and tackled the defendant. Charles had a knife and, while this was going on, he got out of the car and threatened to kill both other men and to assault their family members.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Massachusetts DUI case upholding the defendant’s conviction after affirming the denial of his motion to suppress. Ultimately, the court concluded that the officer’s stop of the defendant was justified based on the officer’s observations that the defendant’s vehicle drifted across the right fog line for two or three seconds.

According to the court’s opinion, an officer stopped the defendant in the early morning hours on Route 202 after he noticed the defendant’s vehicle drift over the right fog line for a few seconds. Upon the officer’s approach and subsequent discussion with the defendant, the officer concluded that the defendant was likely under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Thus, the officer arrested the defendant for DUI.

The defendant filed a motion to suppress all evidence obtained as a result of the stop, arguing that the officer did not have a basis to conduct the traffic stop. A video of the incident confirms that the defendant briefly drifted out of his lane for a few seconds before returning to his lane. Other than that brief departure, the defendant’s driving was not called into question. The lower court granted the defendant’s motion, holding that “crossing a fog line one time for a few seconds does not constitute a marked lane violation.” The prosecution appealed.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Massachusetts manslaughter case discussing whether the evidence was sufficient to support the defendant’s conviction. Ultimately, the court concluded that the prosecution’s evidence was insufficient and reversed the defendant’s conviction for involuntary manslaughter. The court upheld the defendant’s conviction for distribution of heroin.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was a student at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and was also a heroin user. One day, another student who lived in the defendant’s neighborhood learned that the defendant frequently made trips to New York to buy heroin, and asked the defendant to pick him up some heroin on the next trip. The defendant agreed, and brought the other student back nine packets of heroin. The next day, the student’s father found his son dead from a heroin overdose in his apartment. The student had consumed three of the packets given to him by the defendant.

The defendant was charged with the distribution of heroin as well as involuntary manslaughter. At trial, the defendant was convicted of both counts. The defendant appealed each of his convictions on the basis that the evidence presented by the prosecution was insufficient to sustain a conviction.

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Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Massachusetts homicide case discussing whether the statements made by the defendant should be suppressed. The court held that the police did not safeguard the defendant’s rights by informally translating the Miranda warnings, and went further to hold that the cell site location information (CSLI) was a product of those statements. Thus, the court held that the CSLI data should also be suppressed.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant’s girlfriend was found dead in her car, with a gunshot wound to the head. The investigating officer noticed a surveillance camera nearby, and after showing the video to family members, the detective developed the defendant as a suspect.

Once police identified the defendant, they arrested him. At this point, police officers realized that the defendant would need to have his Miranda warning provided orally and in Spanish because he only spoke Spanish, and was illiterate in both English and Spanish. The detectives found an officer who spoke Spanish, but was not trained as a translator. This officer read the defendant his Miranda rights.

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Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Massachusetts murder case resulting in the court’s reversal of the defendant’s murder conviction. The court based its reversal on the improper denial of the defendant’s motion to suppress identification and finger-print evidence that was obtained as a result of an illegal car stop.

According to the court’s opinion, police were investigating a murder that had occurred the night before. Evidently, one man was shot to death as he was driving by another car. A witness identified the vehicle as a Chevy Malibu. Detectives spoke to the witness, who explained that the car should have fresh scrapes under the vehicle as a result of it hopping a curb as it fled the scene.

The day following the murder, police officers observed a Chevy Malibu that loosely matched the description given by the witness. The officers followed the car, thinking they recognized the back-seat passenger as someone they knew to have an active warrant. The officers stopped the vehicle and, as they approached, realized that the rear passenger was not the man with the warrant. Nonetheless, the officers initiated small talk with the driver, asking for his license. The driver provided his license, which was valid, and then the officers asked if the car was rented. The driver responded affirmatively, and the officers asked for the rental agreement. No one in the car was on the rental agreement, so the officers towed the car.

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Jury selection in a Massachusetts criminal trial is a critical stage in any case. Because a defendant cannot be convicted unless a jury must unanimously find that a defendant was guilty of the crime charged, both prosecution and defense put a significant amount of effort into selecting jurors through a process called “voir dire.”

The voir dire process is guided largely by the judge overseeing the case. Generally, each side presents questions that they would like to ask potential jurors. The judge can approve or disapprove of specific questions, and may alter the phrasing on certain questions. Some judges allow counsel to ask the questions, while other judges ask the potential jurors the questions themselves. Of course, judges must follow certain statutory and constitutional principles during the process.

In a recent state appellate decision, the court affirmed the conviction of a defendant who was found guilty of indecent assault and battery, rejecting the defendant’s challenge to the lower court’s decision not to allow him to ask certain questions of the jury. Specifically, the defendant wanted to ask the jurors whether they had a bias against non-English speakers.

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One of the most significant and burdensome collateral consequences of a Massachusetts sex offense conviction is the mandatory reporting requirement. After a conviction for a qualifying offense, the Sex Offender Registration Board (SORB), will classify the defendant as either “low,” “moderate,” or “high” risk, each carrying a different set of registration and reporting obligations. Recently, a state appellate court reviewed one man’s challenge to the SORB’s classification that he was a level two, moderate risk offender.

According to the court’s opinion, in 2015, the man was convicted of two counts of open and gross lewdness. Evidently, the man displayed his genitals to a neighbor through a window in his home. After his conviction, SORB classified the man as a level two, moderate risk offender. The defendant challenged the SORB determination.

First, the man claimed that SORB did not have the authority to label him a sex offender because his conviction did not qualify. Specifically, the man argued that a previous arrest for open and gross lewdness did not result in a “conviction.” Second, the man argued that SORB presented insufficient evidence to classify him as a level two offender.

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In a Massachusetts criminal case, the jury consists of either six of twelve jurors. After a trial, a defendant cannot be convicted unless all jurors unanimously agree that the defendant was guilty of the crimes charged. Thus, if even one juror believes that a defendant is not guilty, the court will declare a mistrial, and the defendant will avoid a conviction. For this reason, the jury selection process in Massachusetts criminal trial is critical.

The history of jury-selection practices across the United States is an unfortunate one. While the jury-selection process allows prosecutors and defendants to strike jurors from the panel who they believe will favor the other side through what is called a peremptory strike, there are limits on the exercise of these peremptory strikes.

One of the most fundamental rights any criminal defendant enjoys is the right to be tried by a jury of their peers. This right, embodied in the Sixth Amendment, requires that a jury be drawn from a fair cross-section of society. Thus, in the case, Batson v. Kentucky, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the prosecution cannot use their peremptory strikes to eliminate jurors based on their race. Since then, the Court has considered numerous other cases involving race-based selection techniques, most recently with the case Flowers v. Mississippi.

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In June 2019, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts issued an opinion in a Massachusetts manslaughter case involving the defendant’s failure to put her two nephews in age-appropriate car seats. The court ultimately reversed most of the defendant’s convictions, finding that the prosecution failed to establish the defendant’s conduct was reckless or wanton.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was involved in a multi-vehicle accident in which her two nephews – aged four and 16 months – were fatally injured. The defendant and her four-year-old son were injured, but survived. At the time of the accident, the four-year-old was in the back seat with the seatbelt strapped but without a car seat; the 16-month-old child was in a front-facing car seat with the straps set too high.

The defendant was indicted on two counts of manslaughter, two counts of negligent motor vehicle homicide, and three counts of reckless endangerment of a child. The defendant was later convicted of two counts of reckless endangerment, one count of manslaughter, and one count of negligent motor vehicle homicide. The defendant appealed, arguing that she lacked the necessary mental state to find her guilty of manslaughter and reckless endangerment.

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Earlier this year, federal agents conducted an undercover sting operation resulting in the arrests of three men and the seizure of $100,000 in U.S. currency, as well as an additional $200,000 worth of the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. According to a recent news report, covering the operation and subsequent arrests, the three men who were arrested are believed to be a part of a larger Boston drug syndicate.

Evidently, an undercover federal narcotics agent ordered MDMA from the darknet site “EastSideHigh.” The agent arranged to have the seller of the drugs leave them in a U.S. Post Office collection box in Stoughton. When the seller arrived on scene and transferred Bitcoin to the agents, they arrested him on Boston drug distribution charges.

After the first man’s arrest, officers obtained a search warrant for office space in Stoughton. When officers arrived to execute the warrant, they allegedly discovered the two other men in the office space, one of which was wearing a ventilator mask. Police told reporters they believe that the men would receive large shipments of drugs to the office, where they would process and manufacturer street drugs including MDMA, Ketamine, and Xanax.