These summaries of case decisions are intended for informational purposes only. They are not intended to be interpretations of the law, nor do they encompass the subtleties of each case. Therefore, reference to the original text is indispensable.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Com v. Adams

Commonwealth v. Jovon Adams
Supreme Judicial Court
January 28, 2011
Docket No. 10580

Homicide, Armed Assault with Intent to Murder, Assault and Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon, Assault by Means of a Dangerous Weapon, Firearms.

The defendant was convicted of premeditated murder, armed assault with intent to murder, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, assault by means of a dangerous weapon, and carrying a firearm without a license. On appeal, the defendant claimed that it was error to admit pretrial statements of his younger brother, Josiah, who testified at trial that the defendant was not present at the shooting of Cordelro Andrade; however, two of his pretrial statements were shown to contradict that, as one statement claimed that the defendant had been present, while another statement showed that a co-defendant had committed the shooting by himself. These pretrial statements were admitted substantively subsequent to Josiah claiming that his brother (the defendant) had not been involved in the shooting. The defendant also claimed that because he had been attempting to protect his sister during an altercation, the judge’s refusal to give requested instructions regarding defense of another was in error. The convictions were affirmed.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Com v. Amaral

Commonwealth v. Jeremy Amaral
Massachusetts Appeals Court
January 26, 2011
Docket No. 09-P-2284

Solicitation to Commit Felony, Prostitution, Business Record, Authentication, Best Evidence Rule

The defendant was convicted of attempted rape of a child and solicitation of a prostitute.  On appeal, the defendant challenged whether an account printout of an electronic document and e-mail correspondence between the defendant and the state trooper, claiming to be a child, should have been admitted at trial.  The Appeals Court found no error and affirmed the convictions.

Com v. Velazquez

Commonwealth v. Velazquez
Massachusetts Appeals Court
January 26, 2011
Docket No. 08-P-1042

Rape, Evidence, First complaint, Expert opinion, Witness, Expert

The defendant was convicted of four counts of forcible rape of a child.  On appeal, the defendant challenged whether the errors at trial, including errors concerning the first complaint doctrine to which the Commonwealth conceded, required a new trial.  The Appeals Court reversed the defendant’s convictions and ordered a new trial.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Com v. McGillvary

Commonwealth v. McGillvary
January 25, 2011.
78 Mass.App.Ct. 644

Motor Vehicle, Operating under the influence, Operation, Jury Instructions, Defendant's decision not to testify, Assistance of counsel, Prior conviction, Speedy trial

The defendant was convicted by a jury of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor (OUI), fourth offense.  On appeal, the defendant made several challenges.  First, he challenged whether he actually operated a motor vehicle, as required by G. L. c. 90 § 24.  Second, the defendant claimed that the Commonwealth did not present a sufficient amount of evidence to prove that he operated a motor vehicle or that the defendant had prior convictions.  Third, the defendant argued that the prosecutor’s representation of the evidence during his closing argument created a substantial risk of miscarriage of justice.  Fourth, the defendant contended that his right to testify was muzzled.  Fifth, the defendant claimed the judge abused his discretion by denying his motion to replace his attorney.  Lastly, the defendant argued that he was denied his right to a speedy trial.  The judgment was affirmed.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Com. v. Sullivan

Commonwealth v. Sullivan
January 24, 2011
78 Mass.App.Ct. 631

Juvenile Court, Jurisdiction. Superior Court, Transfer hearing, First Complaint, Rape

The defendant was convicted of one count of rape of a person under sixteen by force.  On appeal, the defendant challenged whether the Juvenile Court had jurisdiction, under G. L. c. 119, § 72A, to transfer the proceedings to Superior Court.  The defendant also raised the issue of whether his due process rights were violated by being prosecuted in the Superior Court instead of the Juvenile Court.  Lastly, the defendant argued that the trial judge erred in allowing the victim’s friend to testify about what the victim testified was the second complaint of the rape.  The judgment was affirmed.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Com v. Backus

Commonwealth v. Juan Backus
Massachusetts Court of Appeals
January 20, 2011
Docket No. 09-P-113.

Assault, Battery, Constitutional Rights, Jury-Waived Trial.

The defendant was convicted of assault and battery after a jury-waived trial. According to the evidence, the defendant drove from Massachusetts to New Hampshire, picked up his ex-girlfriend, and then continued to drive for an additional one and a half hours while punching her face repeatedly. On appeal, the defendant claimed that his waiver of a jury trial was invalid. The convicted was affirmed.

Com v. Greenwood

Commonwealth v. Knowell Greenwood
Massachusetts Court of Appeals
January 20, 2011
Docket No. 09-P-379.

Kidnapping, Breaking and Entering, Robbery, Practice, Search and Seizure.

The defendant was indicted on five separate counts as a habitual offender. Prior to his trial he filed a motion to suppress a pretrial identification as well as a motion to suppress an in-court identification. Both motions were denied and the Commonwealth introduced the evidence at trial. The defendant was convicted of kidnapping, breaking and entering, and the lesser included offense of unarmed robbery. On appeal the defendant contended that it was error to deny his pretrial motions, among other claims of error. The Court determined that even though the arresting officers’ initial search of the defendant’s possessions was not supported by probable cause, but that the admission of the evidence was harmless, and the other claims of error were rejected, the conviction was to be affirmed.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Com v. Stewart-Johnson

Commonwealth v. Marguerita Stewart-Johnson
Massachusetts Appeals Court
January 12, 2011
Docket No. 09-P-1820.

Lottery, Practice, Criminal.

The defendants were participants in and proponents of a pyramid scheme. They were convicted in Superior Court for violating G. L. c. 271, § 7 (setting up or promoting a lottery). The defendants argue on appeal that they should have been found not guilty for two reasons: 1.) their pyramid scheme was not actually a “lottery” under the statute, and 2.) they were not actually promoting the scheme. They also claimed that there was error in the jury instructions. The convictions were affirmed.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Com v. Matos

Commonwealth v. Diana Matos
Massachusetts Appeals Court
January 11, 2011
Docket No: 09-P-1895

Prostitution, Inducing a minor

The primary issue in this case was whether G.L. c. 272, § 4A, which makes it a penalty to induce a minor to become a prostitute, requires a showing that the minor was not previously involved with prostitution prior to a defendant convicted under this statute.  The defendant also appealed her convictions on other charges based upon a lack of sufficient evidence.

Com v. Gomez

Commonwealth v. Yohan Gomez
Massachusetts Appeals Court
January 11, 2011
Docket No: 09-P-1938

Bail, Default, Forfeiture

While released on bail and during his jury trial, police arrested defendant for an unrelated offense and detained him.  Defendant was unable to appear in trial court due to this police custody and defaulted at trial.  Defendant appeals the trial judge’s order forfeiting the bail.  The Appeals Court reversed under these circumstances. 

Com v. DiBenedetto

Commonwealth v.  Frank DiBenedetto
Supreme Judicial Court
January 11, 2011
Docket No. SJC-10658

Motion for New Trial, New Evidence, Exculpatory, Judical Estoppel

Defendant DiBenedetto appeals the denial of his motion for a new trial based upon newly discovered DNA evidence.  In addition, defendant argues that the Commonwealth violated the doctrine of judicial estoppel due to their inconsistent positions at different stages of thee proceedings in regards to the evidence at issue.  The SJC remands the case for further findings by the motion judge concerning the DNA evidence and its importance to the defendant’s claim and finds no judicial estoppel violation because the inconsistencies are not direct. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Com v. R. Amaral

Commonwealth v. Robert Amaral
Massachusetts Court of Appeals
January 6, 2011
Docket No: 09-P-1683

Assault and Battery, Self-Defense, Evidence, Prior Violent Conduct

The Fall River Division of the District Court convicted the defendant of assault and battery following a bench trial.  The defendant appealed, asserting that 1) the trial judge erred in restricting cross-examination regarding the victim's training and experience as a boxer and martial artist to establish that the victim was the first aggressor; and 2) the restitution order entered by the judge violates his Due Process rights because it was based on evidence that failed to comply with G.L. c. 233, sec 78G.  Both issues were affirmed.

Com v. Young

Commonwealth v. Justin L. Young
Massachusetts Court of Appeals
January 6, 2010
Docket No. 09-P-1721

Search and Seizure, Automobile, Arrest, Controlled Substances, Firearms

A judge sitting jury-waived found the defendant guilty of carrying a firearm without a license, possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card, and unlawful possession of a loaded firearm.  The defendant appeals this decision, arguing that the trial judge erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence and statements obtained during a pat frisk taken as a result of his physical response to an exit order by the arresting police officers.  Defendant contends that the exit order leading to the frisk of his person and discovery of the handgun was unlawful because 1) there was no basis for stopping the vehicle initially and 2) the Fourth Amendment and art. 14 of the MA Declaration of Rights forbid the exit order given to him as a passenger in the vehicle.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Com v. Arnaut

Commonwealth v. Jose Arnaut
Massachusetts Appeals Court
January 5, 2011
Docket No: 09-P-1872

Retroactivity of Judicial Holding, Motion for New Trial

The defendant appeals from his 2004 conviction on multiple drug charges, alleging that the denial of his second motion for a new trial was wrongfully denied.  Defendant argues that Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 129 S. Ct. 2527 (2009) should be applied retroactively to a case pending on collateral review.

Com. v. Roderiques

Commonwealth v. Roderiques
Massachusetts Appeals Court
January 5, 2011
78 Mass. App. Ct. 515

Assault and Battery, Wanton or Reckless Conduct, Reckless Endangerment of a Child, Lesser included offense, Request for jury instructions, Expert Opinion

A grand jury issued two indictments against the defendant –assault and battery upon a child under fourteen years of age causing substantial bodily injury and wantonly and recklessly permitting an assault and battery upon a child that caused the child substantial bodily injury.  Per the defendant’s request, the trial judge gave an instruction on reckless endangerment of a child as a lesser included offense of second charge.  The jury found the defendant guilty of reckless endangerment of a child.  The defendant filed a motion to vacate the conviction, which was denied.  On appeal, the defendant argued that reckless endangerment is not a lesser included offense and that the Commonwealth’s expert offered an impermissible opinion about an ultimate issue in the case.  The judgment was affirmed.