201607.27
0
0

FINGERPRINT EVIDENCE ALONE IS INSUFFICIENT TO SUPPORT A FINDING OF GUILT BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT IF THE FINGERPRINT WAS FOUND IN AN AREA GENERALLY ACCESSIBLE TO THE PUBLIC . . . OR IS IT?

In Commonwealth v. French (2015), an Appeals Court case briefed and argued by a friend and colleague of mine, the Defendant’s criminal conviction by a District Court judge of breaking and entering in the daytime with the intent to commit a felony, and larceny of property over $250, was upheld by the Massachusetts Appeals Court,…

201607.22
0
0

SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT DOES AWAY WITH DISTINCTION BETWEEN PRETRIAL EFFORTS TO SUPPRESS EVIDENCE ON CONSTITUTIONAL GROUNDS, AND PRETRIAL EFFORTS TO SUPPRESS ON NON-CONSTITUTIONAL GROUNDS

Commonwealth v. Grady (2016), involved a State Police arrest for operating under the influence (OUI).  After the arrest, the State Police searched the defendant’s vehicle and discovered, inside a container, certain substances that they suspected were contraband. The suspected illegal drugs were sent to the State Police crime laboratory for analysis, including weighing and identifying…

201607.05
0
0

POLICE MUST EXPLAIN FACTUAL BASIS FOR BELIEF THAT A VEHICLE IS SPEEDING – A “HUNCH” IS NOT ENOUGH

The Supreme Judicial Court recently concluded that where a criminal defendant challenges the legality of a traffic stop for speeding, the police must articulate specific facts that support the conclusion that the defendant’s speed was greater that reasonable. In the 2016 case of Commonwealth v. Teixeira-Furtado, the police stopped a car for speeding.  At about…

201606.28
0
0

PARENTAL FITNESS DOES NOT REQUIRE PERFECTION

In May of 2016, the Massachusetts Appeals Court reversed a Probate and Family Court decision dismissing a mother’s petition to remove her child’s paternal grandmother as the child’s guardian.  In reversing the decision, the Appeals Court reminded the Probate and Family Court, albeit in an unpublished decision, that the burden of proof to demonstrate a…

201604.16
0
0

CAN THE POLICE HAVE MY CAR TOWED AND IMPOUNDED IF I AM ARRESTED?

Getting arrested is often a traumatic event.  It usually comes unexpectedly, interrupting whatever plans you may have had.  It involves a temporary loss of liberty, and being physically restrained.  Typically, the arresting officer will be relatively curt with the arrestee.  And all the while, the arrestee knows that in the days, weeks and months to…

PLEADING THE 5th
201603.30
0
0

PLEADING THE 5th

The phrase, “I plead the 5th,” is bandied about a lot in television and movies, and most people have a general notion that it has something to do with the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Specifically, the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides in relevant part that “[n]o person…