April 2010 Archives

April 29, 2010

Arlington Man Pleads Guilty to Cambridge & Somerville Armed Robberis


Jonas Moses-Gilson, 20, of Arlington, Massachusetts, pled guilty this past Wednesday in Middlesex Superior Court to several armed robberies in Cambridge and Somerville that dated back to last May.

Moses-Gilson pled guilty to three counts of Masked Armed Robbery, Kidnapping, three counts of Assault & Battery, Armed Assault to Rob, and Resisting Arrest. In an unrelated matter, he also pled guilty to Trafficking in Cocaine, Distribution, and Possession with Intent to Distribute and Conspiracy to Violate Drug Laws.

At sentencing, Moses-Gilson was sentenced to five years and one day in prison, with five years' probation thereafter.

Continue reading "Arlington Man Pleads Guilty to Cambridge & Somerville Armed Robberis" »

April 28, 2010

Big Brother Contestant Arrested in Boston on Drug and Assault & Battery Charges


Matt McDonald, the "Big Brother" contestant from Charlestown, Massachusetts, was arrested twice this past month on two separate criminal charges.

Earlier this month, McDonald was arrested in Winthrop, Massachusetts, for allegedly beating up his pregnant girlfriend. His girlfriend alleges that he kicked her in the collarbone, put her in a headlock and began punching her in the arms, and also threatened to kill her father if he called the police. According to the Boston Police Department, McDonald's girlfriend had visible bruising on her arms, neck and collarbone. The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office has charged him with Aggravated Assault & Battery in connection with this incident.

Just yesterday, McDonald was also indicted in Boston's Federal District Court on various Drug Crimes allegedly being involved with a purported drug operation run by another former "Big Brother" contestant, Adam Jasinski. According to the Boston Federal prosecutors and the Drug Enforcement Agency, McDonald conspired with Jasinski in selling Oxycodone, which were reportedly purchased from Jasinski's Big Brother winnings. Jasinski, meanwhile, was arrested in North Reading, Massachusetts, last October after he tried selling Oxycodone to a cooperating government witness.

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April 27, 2010

Watertown and Cambridge Police Arrest Belmont Teen for iPhone Robbery


A Belmont, Massachusetts, teenager was arrested last week in connection with the robbery of his classmate's cell phone at a playground on April 16, 2010. The boy's name has not been released due to his age.

The girl told the Belmont Police Department that she ran into the male classmate at the Grove Street Playground, and that he asked to borrow a cell phone. The girl gave him the cell phone, but when she wanted it back, the suspect allegedly took out a pocketknife and threatened her.

After a description of the male suspect was broadcast by the Belmont Police Department, officers from the Cambridge and Watertown Police Departments stopped him and arrested him. A 'bring-back' identification procedure was done, and the girl purportedly identified him as the person who robbed her of the iPhone.

Notably, the teenage suspect did not have the knife, nor the cell phone, on his person when he was arrested. He was charged with the crimes of Armed Robbery, Larceny from a Person and Assault with a Dangerous Weapon.

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April 26, 2010

Masked Man Arrested in Lowell Armed Robbery After Getting Dropped Off by Store Clerk


The Lowell Police Department have arrested a 23 year old man in connection with the robbery of a Getty Gas Station last Monday. The man, whose name has not been disclosed, was charged with Kidnapping and Armed Robbery, and is expected to be arraigned on those criminal charges in Lowell District Court this week.

Lowell Police report that the man, who is a regular customer and had even worked at the station he robbed in the past, was likely hiding behind a dumpster when he pulled a gun on a store clerk as he was locking up. The store's alarm, however, had already been triggered, so the suspect quickly grabbed some money and ordered one of the clerk's to drive him away. He was driven around the neighborhood for a short time, until he got out of the car and fled on foot. Interestingly, it was also reported that the armed robber had also gone to the store earlier in the evening and told someone that he planned on robbing the store.

It turns out, however, that the armed robber drove himself to a few blocks away from his own house where he got out of the car. Once out of the car, the armed robber took off his mask and started to walk home - and the store clerk followed him to his house. The store clerk from the Lowell store was quoted as saying:

"He's an idiot though. He came here earlier in the night and spoke to someone else about robbing the store. Then, he had the clerk drop him off by his own house."

In my years as a Boston Criminal Lawyer, I can tell you that despite what appears to be overwhelming evidence against this man, one should be cautioned that this is only one side of the story. In many types of these cases, there is often some contrary evidence, inconsistent witness accounts, or mistakes in the Identification that could provide this man with a defense should he elect to proceed to trial on these charges.

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April 24, 2010

Lynn Man Charged in Assault & Battery Attack on Boston MBTA Employee


Daniel Jourdet, 52, of Lynn, Massachusetts, was arraigned this past week for allegedly punching an MBTA inspector at the Copley Square Green Line Station in Boston on April 1.

The Suffolk County District Attorney's Office reports that Jourdet, who was intoxicated at the time, was harassing or intimidating other passengers on the Copley Square Station platform. After the inspect asked him to leave the station, Jourdet allegedly yelled racial slurs at him, and then punched him.

Another passenger who witnesses the incident, captured the incident on his cell phone video and posted it on YouTube, which led to the MBTA Transit Police identifying him as the perpetrator.

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Daniel Jourdet was charged in the Boston Municipal Court with Assault & Battery, Civil Rights Violations, Disorderly Conduct, and Trespassing. Jourdet, who was held on $10,000 bail after his Arraignment, reported has criminal convictions in three other states, and open criminal cases in the East Boston Division of the Boston Municipal Court.

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April 23, 2010

Convicted Rapist, Benjamin LaGuer, Seeks Parole for 4th Time


LaGuer.jpgBenjamin LaGuer, now 46, was convicted in 1984 for the Rape of a 59 year old neighbor. On Thursday, he appeared before the Massachusetts State Parole Board for the 4th time seeking his release but again refused to admit any guilt and adamantly professed his innocence for this crime.

Despite claiming his innocence and challenging his conviction over the years because the DNA evidence him was not handled properly, LaGuer has not been successful in the Massachusetts Appeals Courts, who have consistently continued to uphold the Rape conviction. His efforts, however, have won him a great deal of supporters, including the support of Deval Patrick prior to his becoming Massachusetts Governor.

Although the Massachusetts Parole Board did not reach a decision after yesterday's hearing, some skepticism was expressed by the Parole Board, particularly from Cesar Archilla, who stated, "Since [your last Parole Board Hearing in] 2003, I fail to see any compelling reasons to parole you." Another board member noted not seeing LaGuer 'taking responsibility" and advised him to "start looking at yourself and why you're there." In explaining why he has refused to participate in treatment programs during his time in the Massachusetts State Prison system, LaGuer explained that these programs require an admission of guilt and remorse, and could not do so since he maintains his innocence.

Despite LaGuer's many supporters, by all accounts, I do not see any indication that the Massachusetts State Parole Board will grant him parole.

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April 22, 2010

Two Men Charged in Dorchester Murder of Auto Repair Owner


In a follow-up to my Blog Post of April 10, 2010, two men were charged in the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court with the Murder of Charles Cantave, the owner of Brockton Four Wheels. Mario Burns had been previously arrested on April 8, 2010 and charged with Accessory After the Fact to Murder. Burns and Corneluis Evans are now both charged with Murder.

As previously reported in this Blog, one of the defendant's, Mario Burns and his wife, Kenya Burns, had just left Dorchester Court that morning following a small-claims court hearing over a dispute concerning the repair of Burns' Volvo. After the court hearing concluded, the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office reports that surveillance video shows that Burns and Evans followed Cantave to his car and fatally shot him.

Police and prosecutors alleged that Evans was the alleged gunman in the incident, but that Burns had previously threatened to 'shoot up' Cantave and his business just days prior to the March 29 Murder.

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April 21, 2010

Roxbury Man Arrested in Assault & Robbery of Brighton Convenience Store


Derek Price, of Roxbury, Massachusetts, was arrested on Monday after he allegedly robbed the Quality Market in Brighton at gunpoint. Boston Police allege that he came into the store wearing a black mask, pulled out a .32 caliber revolver covered in black tape, and demanded the store's money.

Complying with Price's demands, the store clerk handed over approximately $500 in cash, but also gave him bag containing $300 in coins. After he left the store on foot, the store clerk followed him in his car, apparently reporting Price's location to the police. The Boston Police report that it was the weight of the coins that slowed Price's escape and caused him to be apprehended minutes later.

After his Arraignment in the Boston Municipal Court on criminal charges including Armed Robbery, Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Derek Price was held on $25,000 bail.

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April 20, 2010

Chelsea Man Arrested for Assaulting and Burning Pregnant Girlfriend in Dorchester


Jose Jobson, of Chelsea, was arraigned in the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court yesterday for allegedly beating and burning his pregnant girlfriend. As a result of the incident and in an effort to save the baby, doctors were forced to induce labor. The baby girl is reportedly doing fine.

The Boston Police Department reports that Jobson beat the pregnant woman this past Sunday night, in the presence of her three other children. When police responded to the scene, Jobson allegedly fled in his car with the three children in the back seat. When he was finally pulled over in Roxbury, Jobson first climbed into the back seat with the children, and then also allegedly began assaulted the police officers.

At his arraignment in the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court, Jobson was charged with Assault with Intent to Murder, Mayhem, Assault with a Dangerous Weapon, Aggravated Assault & Battery, Assault & Battery with a Dangerous Weapon, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Assault & Battery on a Police Officer, Resisting Arrest, and Failure to Stop for the Police.

Additionally, Jobson's criminal case scheduled for a Dangerousness Hearing on Monday in Dorchester Court, as well as for a hearing on whether his bail should be revoked on the charge of Possession with Intent to Distribute now pending in Somerville District Court.

Continue reading "Chelsea Man Arrested for Assaulting and Burning Pregnant Girlfriend in Dorchester" »

April 19, 2010

Brookline Trespass Arrest Links Two Men Suspected of Breaking Into Over 26 Cars


Two men were arrested last week in Brookline, Massachusetts, for allegedly Trespassing in a parking lot where recent car break-ins have been reported. Victor Edwardo Pena, of Jamaica Plain, and Nathan Ortega, of Dorchester, were both charged with Possession of Burglarious Tools, Receiving Stolen Property, and Trespassing.

The Brookline Police Officer who pulled the car over noticed a tool commonly used to break car windows, and also a flashlight under the Pena's, the driver's thigh. After ordering the men out of the car, the Brookline Officer also saw a screwdriver between the driver's seat and door. Because the recent car break-ins were allegedly done using a flathead screwdriver, the officer then pat-frisked the occupants and searched their car, finding eight flathead screwdrivers, a black cap, two gloves, and a flashlight.

A subsequent inventory search of the car also revealed several GPS units, backpacks, keys, and personal effects bearing the names of other people. According to Brookline Police, these items were then traced to motor vehicle break-ins of at least 26 cars in Brookline, Boston, Cambridge and Norwood.

Boston Criminal Lawyer Lefteris K. Travayiakis:

One of the major issues I see with this case is the Search & Seizure of the defendant's vehicle. To that end, the million dollar question is whether the officer had lawfully stopped the defendant's car as a result of the purported 'no trespassing' sign. In many cases involving motor vehicle stops, the overriding question is whether the actual stop of the defendant was lawful and based on either reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or probable cause to arrest.

Because police reports generally do not disclose every little bit of information relating to the alleged incident, I have found that contesting and challenging Searches & Seizures and requiring the prosecutor to prove the lawfulness of the officers' actions, by requiring him to testify at an evidentiary hearing, often provides a great deal more information. Even though the information elicited at the hearing might not always be helpful to the motion itself, it sometimes provides the criminal defense attorney with issues to attack at trial; and almost always helps the attorney to prepare for the testimony at trial by hearing it ahead of time.

A successful challenge to the Search & Seizure in your case can be critical, is it could lead to the suppression or exclusion of key evidence in your case, without which the prosecutor might not be able to continue the prosecution against you. For this reason, you and your Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer should always evaluate the officer's actions in stopping your car or your person, and evaluate any Search & Seizure challenges.

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April 17, 2010

Chelmsford Priest Arrest in Craigslist Prostitution Sting


Reverend William Ventura, 31, of Saint John the Evangelist Parish in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, was arrested this past Friday night by Nashua Police in a Craigslist Prostitution Investigation in New Hampshire. He was charged with the Sex Crime of Attempting to Solicit for Prostitution, which carries a maximum sentence of up to one year in prison.

Reverend Ventura was reported one of eight people arrested in a hotel sting and is scheduled to be arraigned on April 21. As a result of his arrest, the priest has accepted a 'voluntary' leave of absence and is restricted from participating in the ministry until this matter is involved. It is unclear at this time whether the Roman Catholic Church will or has initiated its own independent investigation.

In recent years, it's no surprise that police departments across Massachusetts and the rest of the country have taken a very aggressive and proactive approach in Sex Crimes investigations. To that end, many police departments have created internal Cyber Crime Departments whose focus is exclusively to investigate Sex Crimes over the internet.

From my criminal caseload over the last several years, I have seen an increase in Sex Crimes charges from my own clients, a great number of these coming from Craigslist. Often times, the police will post their own 'sex ads' on Craigslist or on other internet sites in an effort to arrest those soliciting prostitution. In other cases, the police will target the advertisers themselves, resulting in stings at hotels or other places.

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April 16, 2010

Convicted Massachusetts Murderer Escapes from Prison


Derek Capozzi, of Beverly, convicted of Murder in Massachusetts for the 1996 killing of a woman, escaped from federal custody the other day by kicking through the door of a prisoner transport van in Kentucky.

In 2005, Capozzi was convicted in Federal District Court for the 1996 killing of Aislin Silva, then 19, of Medford, Massachusetts. Silva was allegedly killed by a gang of drug dealers and thieves who were allegedly connected to the Mafia. It was alleged that Capozzi helped cut her body into small pieces and bury them after another mobster strangled her.

Capozzi was convicted of Conspiracy to Murder, Accessory After the Fact, and Conspiracy to Commit Robbery and sentenced to 23 years in prison. He had already been sentenced on an unrelated Gun / Firearms and Extortion charges where he had been sentenced to 30 years.

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April 15, 2010

Witness in John Odgren Murder Trial Testifies


John Odgren.jpgPrior to the start of the John Odgren Murder trial the other day, the Suffolk County Jurors were taken on a 'view' of the crime scene and were shown a video that Odgren allegedly watched the morning of the stabbing of James Alenson. The video shown to the jurors purportedly shows faceless cartoon characters stabbing and shooting each other.

Stephen Weiss, the student who was in the bathroom when John Odgren allegedly stabbed Alenson, testified that during a lecture before the stabbing, a student asked the teacher how to commit a perfect murder. Although the witness could not recall whether Odgren was the student who asked that question, Weiss clearly remembered that Odgren then stated that "if anyone is interest after class he'd hold a lecture on how to commit the perfect murder."

After the class, Weiss told the Suffolk County jurors he was in the bathroom stall when Odgren and Alenson came in. He said moment later, he heard Alenson plea for help, and than Odgren state "Oh my god, What did I just do...Whoever's in that stall, I need you to go get help." Exiting the stall, Weiss saw blood on the floor and a knife.

As I mentioned in my blog post of April 12, 2010, John Odgren is expected to claim an "Insanity Defense," or more properly termed in Massachusetts, a Defense of Lack of Criminal Responsibility. When a Defense of Lack of Criminal Responsibility is raised, the burden is not on the defendant to prove a lack of criminal responsibility. Rather, under Massachusetts law, the prosecutor bears the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed the crime(s) with which he is charged, and also that the defendant is criminal responsible for his conduct.

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April 14, 2010

Massachusetts Governor Outlaws Sending Sexually Graphic Images to Minors


Governor Deval Patrick signed into Massachusetts law a Cyber / Internet Crime bill that outlaws the transmission of sexually graphic instant message to minors. The new law was written to close a loophole that led to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversing the conviction of a man who was criminally charged with sending explicit instant messages to a 13 year old girl.

In that case, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that instant messages could not be included in any of the state's then-existing categories of Massachusetts' obscenity laws because they did not constitute a visual representation of sexually explicit material, and were handwritten or printed material.

The Cyber / Internet Crime now includes and bans instant and text messages, e-mail and similar forms of electronic communications to minors containing sexually explicit material, which carries potential penalties of up to 5 years in state prison, and fines of up to $10,000.

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April 13, 2010

Brookline High School Student Charged with Armed Robbery


Charlie Borno, a Brookline High School Senior, was charged with Attempted Armed Robbery and Assault and Battery with a Dangerous Weapon for an incident this past Saturday that left one person suffering from a knife wound.

According to the Brookline Police and the Norfolk County District Attorney's Office, Borno and at least two others made plans to rob a group of people, pretending to buy marijuana from them. Borno is alleged to have been sitting in a car when the others abruptly opened the victim's passenger side doors and demanded money. One of the men was armed with a knife and ended up inflicting a deep wound to the hands of one of the occupants.

Brookline Police report that the victims were able to describe the suspects, including Borno, who was later arrested in his cousin's home. He was arraigned this past Monday in Brookline District Court and charged with Attempted Armed Robbery and Assault & Battery by Means of a Dangerous Weapon.

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April 12, 2010

John Odgren Murder Trial Underway in Middlesex Superior Court


Jurors in Middlesex Superior Court heard opening arguments today in the Murder trial of John Odgren, who fatally stabbed James F. Alenson, a fellow Lincoln-Sudbury High School student on January 19, 2007.

Middlesex County prosecutors allege that the defendant, John Odgren, 16 at the time, armed himself with a carving knife and stabbed James Alenson to death in the high school's bathroom. Despite Odgren claiming an insanity defense, prosecutors allege that the killing was premeditated, as Odgren allegedly planned on killing someone else two days before stabbing Alenson to death.

In his criminal defense, Odgren, who suffers from a form of autism known as Asperger's Syndrome and Attention Deficity Disorder, claims that he was living in a "fantasy world" of violent video games and Stephen King fantasy novels. According to his criminal defense lawyer, Odgren did not realize what he had done to Alenson until he saw him lying on the floor, bleeding from his stab wounds.

In Massachusetts, the "Insanity Defense" is properly termed the Defense of Lack of Criminal Responsibility. When the defense is raised, the jury must first find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed the crime, or in the Odgren case, murder. If the jury so finds that the defendant committed the underlying crime, they must then go on to decide whether the Commonwealth has proven that the defendant was criminally responsible at the time, beyond a reasonable doubt.

When a Defense of Lack of Criminal Responsibility is raised, the burden is not on the defendant to prove a lack of criminal responsibility. Rather, under Massachusetts law, the prosecutor bears the burden of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed the crime(s) with which he is charged, and also that the defendant is criminally responsible for his conduct.

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April 10, 2010

Boston Murder of Hyde Park Man Was Over Car Repair Dispute


In a follow-up to my blog posting yesterday concerning the murder of Charles Cantave in the Hyde Park section of Boston, new information was released suggesting that the incident arose from a car repair dispute.

From information released by the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office, the criminal defendant, Mario Burns, and the victim, Charles Cantave, were involved in a small-claims court hearing over a repair bill. Cantave was the manager at Brockton Four Wheels where the defendant's wife, Kenya Burns, had taken their Volvo to be serviced. In her civil complaint, Kenya Burns claimed she paid $2,196 to have her engine replaced, but was later told by a Volvo technician that the work was no good. Burns disputed the repair costs, and the matter ended up in small-claims court in Dorchester on March 29.

After the civil court hearing in Dorchester, prosecutors allege that Burns followed Cantave to his car and fatally shot him. A witness told police that he heard a gunshot and then saw a man leaving in a GMC truck. The witness provided the Boston Police with the license plate number, and the vehicle was soon stopped on Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester, with Burns driving.

Prosecutors further alleged that Burns has a "lengthy" criminal history, with arrests involving Gun/Firearms Crimes, as well as Drug Crimes.

Continue reading "Boston Murder of Hyde Park Man Was Over Car Repair Dispute" »

April 9, 2010

Dorchester Man Arrested for Murder of Hyde Park Man


Mario H. Burns, 37, of Dorchester, Massachusetts, was arrested last evening in connection with the shooting death of a Hyde Park man, Charles Cantave. Charles Cantave shot several times on March 29, 2010, as he sat in his car at a church parking lot on Washington Street in Dorchester.

Burns is scheduled to be arraigned in connection with Cantave's murder and charged with Accessory After the Fact.

The crime of Accessory After the Fact is governed by Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 274, Section 4. In order to be convicted as an Accessory After the Fact, the prosecutor would have to prove that:

  1. The defendant aided, harbored, concealed, or assisted the principal or accessory felon after the commission of the crime;

  2. The defendant knew that the person he was assisted had committed or had been an accessory to the commission of that crime; and

  3. The defendant aided the person in escaping or avoiding detention.

The maximum criminal penalty for the crime of Accessory after the Fact in Massachusetts is up to 7 years in State Prison, 2.5 years in the House of Corrections, and a fine of up to $1,000.

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April 8, 2010

2nd Amendment Gun Laws Upheld by District Court


United States District Court Judge Ricardo M. Urbinia, in the Federal District Court of Columbia, recently applied the Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller which created a constitutional right to have a gun.

In Heller, the United States Supreme Court rejected a government's ban on handguns along with a separate requirement that guns in someones home be kept locked or disassembled. The Heller case marked the first time the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted the Second Amendment as guaranteeing the right to have a firearm. The Supreme Court stated that "[a] ban on handgun possession in the home violate[d] the Second Amendment, as its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home operable for the purpose of immediate self-defense."

The Supreme Court did go on to say, however, that some form of gun control or regulation could still be valid despite the Second Amendment Right to Bear Arms.

The District of Columbia's new gun laws, which were upheld by Judge Urbina in light of the Heller ruling consist of:

  1. All guns must be registered.

  2. An assault weapons ban.

  3. A ban of large capacity magazines.

In Massachusetts, Gun Control Licenses vary, depending on the city in which you apply. Generally, to apply for either a Class A or Class B Firearms Identification Card, you must submit a written application; show proof of having attended a Firearms Safety Course confirming your having been educated with the proper use and safety of firearms; and submit to a 'test' by the local police department demonstrating your use of a firearm.

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April 5, 2010

Court Documents Admitted in Drunk Driving Trial Not Violative of Sixth Amendment's Right to Confrontation


If you have been following this blog, you have seen several recent posts about criminal convictions being reversed as a result of the Melendez-Diaz and Crawford decisions. These decisions have dramatically changed the landscape of permissible 'testimonial' evidence against a defendant at trial, but the scope of these decisions is limited.

In the recent case of Commonwealth v. Dale McMullin, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court pulled the reigns, so to speak, on the scope of Melendez-Diaz. The criminal defendant in this case was charged with several drunk driving related offenses, including Operating of a Motor Vehicle While Under the Influence of Liquor, Fourth Offense (M.G.L. c. 90, section 24(1)(a)(1); Operating After Suspension, Second Offense (M.G.L. c. 90, section 23); and Failure to Stop for a Police Officer (M.G.L. c. 90, section 25). After his criminal conviction, the defendant appealed challenging the admissibility, competency and sufficiency of the public records used to establish his prior convictions.

Although the defendant acknowledged that the admissibility of Registry of Motor Vehicle records was permitted by Commonwealth v. Maloney, he argued that the Maloney decision was based on the Confrontation Clause analysis in Commonwealth v. Verde, which was later overturned by Melendez-Diaz.

In rejecting the defendant's argument, the Massachusetts Supreme Court explained that Melendez-Diaz explicitly acknowledged that a clerk's affidavit authenticating an official record is not 'testimonial' for purposes of the Confrontation Clause. Rather, business and public records are generally admissible and not confrontational because they have been created for the administration of an entity's affairs and not for the purposes of proving some fact at trial.

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April 3, 2010

Drug Conviction Overturned for Constitutional Violation


In the recent case of Commonwealth v. Jorge Vasquez, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently overturned the conviction of the defendant, who had been tried and convicted of Possession of Cocaine, as well as Distribution of Cocaine. Despite his criminal defense lawyer's failing to object at trial to the admission of the Massachusetts State Police Crime Laboratory Certificates of Drug Analysis, the Supreme Judicial Court still reversed his convictions as a result of his being deprive of his Right to Confrontation under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

At his criminal trial, the prosecutor did not call the Massachusetts State Police Crime Analyst at trial, but simply admitted the 'Drug Certificates'. The Drug Certificates were signed by the analyst, but the court found a Sixth Amendment violation because the defendant had no opportunity to cross-examine the drug analyst. Although this was the preferred practice not too long ago, in the recent case of Melendez-Diaz, the United States Supreme Court ruled that drug certificates are testimonial in nature whose admission into evidence against a criminal defendant triggers the protections of the Sixth Amendment Right to Confrontation.

The Massachusetts Supreme Court further ruled that, without the admission of the Drug Certificates or testimony certifying the seized substances were, in fact, cocaine, the defendant's convictions on the charges could not stand and must be reversed. Although there was evidence that the 'substances' were "consistent with cocaine" and testimony from police officers relating to the likeness of the substances with cocaine, this was simply circumstantial evidence. Although a conviction can stand on only circumstantial evidence, the convictions in this case had to be reversed because the court could not say whether a jury would still have convicted had the improperly introduced Drug Certificates not been introduced.

Notably, that the defendant's criminal defense attorney did not object at trial to the admission of the Drug Certificate was not held against him during at his appeal of his convictions. The Supreme Court explained that, because an objection to the admission of the Drug Certificate would have been futile, the rationale for denying the defendant review on this issue doesn't apply.

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April 1, 2010

Dorchester Woman Arrested for Theft of JFK Memorabilia


Yaowan Lu, of Dorchester, was charged with stealing memorabilia worth over $900 from the JFK Presidential Library in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Lu was charged with the Theft Crime of Larceny Over $250.

The criminal offense of Larceny Over $250 is a felony in Massachusetts, which carries a potential penalty of up to 5 years in state prison and a fine of up to $25,000, or imprisonment in the House of Corrections for up to 2 years.

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