The Massachusetts Supreme Court will address the issue of when a seizure occurred in the case of Commonwealth v. Evelyn. The Evelyn case is SJC-12808 and was argued on January 7, 2020.
This case involved a young black man running from the police while the police were investigating a shooting in the Roxbury section of Boston. This decision will have important implication for how black males are treated by the police and what it means for the police to have reasonable suspicion.
Under the United States Constitution, the US Supreme Court has interpreted the 4thAmendment to find that if a defendant runs, there is not seizure until the defendant submits to the authority of the police. The United States Supreme Court announced this rule in the case of California v. Hodari D, 499 U.S. 621 (1991). In that case, the defendant fled and the United States Supreme Court held that he was not seized until the police physically stopped him. While running, the defendant threw cocaine from his pocket. If there was no reasonable suspicion prior to the flight, the evidence would have been suppressed, but since the court held that the defendant was not seized until he was stopped, the court declined to suppress the evidence. The Massachusetts SJC does not follow this rule as State Court are free to interpret their State Constitution different from how the US Supreme Court interprets the United States Constitution.