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The Massachusetts SJC heard oral arguments on November 6, 2023 regarding two OUI Serious Injury cases involving accident and blood tests.  The issue before the Court is whether the requirement that the State police obtain consent to test blood applies to both a simple OUI and a more serious OUI involving serious injury or death.

In the case of Commonwealth v. Zucchino, the defendant was indicted and had a case in Salem Superior Court involving OUI-manslaughter, OUI serious bodily injury and leaving the scene of death among other charges.  Following the accident, the defendant was taken to the hospital where his blood was drawn.  After the blood draw, the State police applied for a warrant for the blood and tested the blood at the State police laboratory.  There are two possible blood draws in this case. First was the blood draw by the hospital and second the testing of the blood by the State police.

It was the testing by the State police without the defendant’s consent that was the subject of the motion and SJC argument.  A similar case also argued on the same day before the SJC was Commonwealth v. Cappellucci.  This case was heard in the Framingham District Court and alleged OUI serious bodily injury.  The defendant was also charged with OUI-drugs serious bodily injury.  In the

Miranda rights are critical to protect an individual privilege against self-incrimination.  When a defendant does not speak English, what is the process to make sure that a defendant is advised of their rights in Spanish or their native language.

In Commonwealth v. Oscar De Los Santos, the question of whether his Miranda rights are valid arises because they were not read to him in his first language, Spanish. A simple assumption about what was said in a language that witnesses do not understand cannot satisfy the Commonwealth’s burden of proving the Miranda requirement beyond a reasonable doubt. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will address this issue in Commonwealth v. De Los Santos.  The SJC hear oral argument on this case in March of 2023.

Spanish is the only language that Mr. de los Santos speaks and understands. In moving to suppress his statements before trial, Mr. de los Santos contended that he did not receive the Miranda warnings. The only pretrial evidence concerning Spanish-language warnings came from officers who cannot speak or understand Spanish.

The defense lawyers in the Karen Read case are looking for third party records to prove that Ms. Read is being framed for murder.  The Commonwealth has refused to produce those records.  In the interest of open disclosure, the prosecution should provide the records.

What is Rule 17 in Massachusetts and why is it a bar for the defense to gather evidence?

The trial of Karen Read involves a bold defense that the police got the investigation wrong, are covering up for their own officers and tried to pin a murder on Ms. Read that she did not commit.  The defense has asked for cell phone records to prove their theory of the case and to establish the defense that a cover up is going on to hide the true manner in which Officer John O’Keefe was killed. 

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in the case of Commonwealth v. Hallinan paved the way for anyone convicted of an OUI with a breath test from 2012-2019 to have their old case vacated without fear of harsher penalties if convicted after retrial.

What steps should you take if you did admit to a breath test or were convicted after trial.  Keep in mind:  even if you got a CWOF on an OUIU charge that counts as a conviction and can be vacated.

Here is what I would recommend you do.  I have been vacating these old OUI cases for the past two years and have had at least 10 clients receive new trials.  None of my clients have been subsequently convicted of OUI; all have had their prior conviction either dismissed or they were found not guilty.

South Carolina DUI crash killing bride and severely injuring the groom could involve legal battles over blood alcohol testing as the defendant refused field sobriety tests.  25 year old Jamie Komoroski was charged with three counts of felony DUI resulting in great bodily injury or death and one count of reckless homicide after a wedding crash. The 25-year-old suspect smelled of alcohol but refused a field sobriety test at the scene, police said. Komoroski has no past convictions.  To read more about the Komoroski case you can read Julianne McShane’s Article from NBC News.

The husband, who suffered bodily injuries but has been released from the hospital, has sued several bars that allegedly over-served the defendant alcohol that Friday. The suit blames the bars for serving a “notably and visibly intoxicated” Komorowski and letting her consume additional and excessive amounts of alcohol. It also alleges the bars allowed her to leave in her dangerously intoxicated state.

The Hutchinson family’s attorney, Danny Dalton said in a statement to CBS News: “The state grants restaurants and bars a license for the privilege to serve alcohol, and with that privilege comes a responsibility to the community to serve patrons responsibly and to deny service to individuals who are visibly intoxicated.”

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided the case of Commonwealth v. Lindsay Hallinan which allows someone seeking a new trial based on an OUI plea or conviction involving breath test results between 2012 and 2019 to receive a new trial without fear of harsher penalties from the Court or Registry of Motor Vehicles.  The major detriment to these motions prior to the Hallinan decision was that the RMV was saying that if someone lost after a retrial, the license suspension starts over as if the case just happened, not giving any credit for the license suspension that was already served.

  • This could have a major impact as prior to this decision the number of individuals seeking new trials was relatively low which may have resulted out of fear of further license suspensions.  This decision removes this obstacle to seeking a new trial.

The SJC decision in Hallinan has three major impacts:

What restrictions can social media companies like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik-Tok on their social media platforms?  The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects free speech and the case of Moody v. NetChoice that is before the United States Supreme Court on a petition for certiorari may redefine what it means to be a public forum and when private companies can limit speech on a platform that has global reach.  You can reach about the Moody case on the Scotus Blog.

The issues in Moody v. NetChoice, LLC are whether the First Amendment precludes a state from requiring social-media companies to host third-party communications and regulating when, where, and how they do so; and whether the First Amendment precludes a state from requiring social-media companies to notify and explain to their users when they censor the user’s speech.

In their petition for writ of certiorari, Florida officials argue that the Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Moody v. NetChoice, LLC violates the First Amendment’s protection of free speech and the ability of private entities to exercise editorial discretion in the content they host on their platforms. The Florida officials specifically argue that the Eleventh Circuit erred in ruling that Florida’s law, which requires social media companies to host third-party communications and regulates when, where, and how they do so, is unconstitutional.

As a Massachusetts OUI Lawyer when I reviewed a case I make sure that the Commonwealth can prove operation.  In conversations with clients, many times the client will believe that the Commonwealth cannot prove operation because the client was not scene driving; however, Massachusetts OUI law does permit circumstantial evidence of operation.  One of the key rules on operation is that a conviction of OUI cannot be grounded solely in the uncorroborated confession of a defendant.  But what type of evidence is sufficient to establish corroboration. The Massachusetts Appeals Court in the case of

In recent weeks, the Appeals Court for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts clarified the standard of corroborated evidence required for convictions based on admissions.  The Appeals Court addressed this issue in Commonwealth v. Lagotic, on March 15,2023.  

What does it mean to Corroborate a confession?

The United States Supreme Court may consider whether police need an arrest warrant to enter a person’s home or whether they can enter a home without probable cause that the person resides there and is present.

The Supreme Court ruled in Payton v. New York, 445 U. S. 573 (1980) that the Fourth Amendment prohibits police from entering a suspect’s home without a warrant or under exigent circumstances. The Court struck down a New York statute providing for such warrantless entries because the Fourth Amendment draws a firm line at the entrance to the house.

The circuit split referenced in the petition for cert in the Pennington case refers to the disagreement among the lower courts on the standard required for police to enter a suspect’s home to execute an arrest warrant. Some circuits require police to have additional probable cause beyond the arrest warrant to enter a residence, while others do not.

Witness Intimidation is a common charge that will often accompany a domestic assault and battery charge in Massachusetts.  In the case of Commonwealth vs. Jeffrey S. Wheeler, it was alleged that the charge was against the Judge and not a specific person.

The defendant was convicted of two counts of intimidation in violation of G. L. c. 268, § 13B (intimidation statute). The defendant placed a telephone call to case specialist in the Newburyport Division of the District Court Department clerk’s office and stated that he was going to go rogue on a judge, that the judge was not “going to be a Judge anymore,” and that “it was going to appear on the TV.” The defendant mentioned the name of someone he said was involved in a court case and said that he was going to serve the judge with paperwork, but the case specialist believed it sounded like he was going to “take things into his own hands and do it himself.” 

The Judge was made aware of the defendant’s telephone call to the clerk’s office and was immediately escorted to her office under the protection of a State trooper. The Judge was escorted home by State police at the end of the day.  The Judge was shocked by the threat because the defendant’s name “did not resonate” with her. 

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