Articles Posted in Miscellaneous

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court recently decided the case of Commonwealth v. Kereakoglow, and reversed the defendant’s conviction after jury trial on the criminal charges of Possession with Intent to Disseminate Material Harmful to Minors, in violation of Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272, Section 28.

The defendant, residing in South Hadley (Hampshire County), allegedly sent three nude images of himself via e-mail to a police officer posing online as a fifteen year old girl living in Wenham (Essex County). The criminal offense of Possession with Intent to Disseminate Material Harmful to Minors requires the prosecutor to prove to the jury that the material was “harmful to minors.” Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 272, Section 31 defines material that is harmful to minors as material that is “obscene” or if taken as a whole:

  1. rerpesents sexual images so as to appeal to the prurient interest of minors;
  2. is patently contrary to the prevailing standards of adults in the county where the offense was committed; and

If you don’t remember the name Luigi Epifania, it’s because he was known around Boston as the “Cat Killer”. In 2008, Epifania was found guilty of strangling and stomping a cat to death, putting it in a bag, lighting it on fire and then throwing it into an apartment building. At the time when that case arose, he was awaiting trial on Attempted Murder charges for stabbing a man and then beating him with a frying pan during a drug deal gone bad.

Now, Epifania was again arrested by Boston Police in East Boston for Trafficking OxyContin. The Boston Police Department reports that he was spotted by drug offices in East Boston, who followed him and observed him engage in a drug transaction.

At the time of this most recent arrest, Epifania was on probation for his previous 2008 criminal cases. At that time, he had been sentenced to 2.5 years in jail for the Cruelty to Animal charge; and 5 years’ probation for the attempted murder charge. Epifania could also be charged with Violation of Probation as a result of this newest criminal charge.

Many people not directly involved in the Massachusetts criminal justice system ordinarily do not hear much about what happens after certain cases are publicized. Media coverage of criminal cases, whether a murder, armed robbery, or drunk driving accident is highlighted almost daily. What the public only typically hears, however, is when someone is arrested, or when a ‘high-profile’ crime goes to trial. If someone is convicted of a high-profile crime, that’s front-page headlines all over the Massachusetts media.

Well, what about the thousands of other criminal cases that are prosecuted annually…the ones that don’t receive the extensive media attention? People might wonder, but don’t often realize, that criminal conviction rates for cases tried in the Superior Court Departments in Boston and throughout Massachusetts are not as high as you might expect.

In data recently released by the Massachusetts Office of the Jury Commissioner, it is reported that in 2009, the criminal conviction rate in Suffolk County and Middlesex County for criminal cases that went to trial was only 62%. By comparison, the criminal conviction rate in Norfolk County was 59%, and Worcester County was 34%.

The U.S. States Supreme Court recently ruled that a defendant’s Constitutional Right (per the 6th Amendment) was violated when the court refused to allow his uncle from watching the jury voir dire process at his criminal trial. As a result the ruling, the man had his cocaine trafficking conviction overturned.

In general, because the public has a First Amendment Right to access the jury voir dire process, a criminal defendant also has a Sixth Amendment Right to a public trial. In other words, the Supreme Court essentially stated that it doesn’t make sense for the public to have the right of access to public proceedings, but to then deny a defendant his right to to a public trial.

In this particular case, Presley v. Georgia, the criminal defendant’s lawyer objected to the trial court from excluding the defendant’s uncle from sitting in the same room with prospective jurors. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that, in a criminal trial, the courts are obligated to accommodate the public access.

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