Commonwealth v. Burgos, 19 N.E.3d 843 (2014)
I. FactsOn July 4, 2005, Dana Haywood was shot and killed in the Monte Park neighborhood of New Bedford. Three years later, Rico Almeida contacted the District Attorney’s office about Haywood’s murder. At the time, Almeida was sharing a cell with the defendant, John Burgos, when he found out that the defendant murdered Haywood. Almeida offered to help police by wearing a concealed recording device to get the defendant’s confession on tape. In order to secure a search warrant, police submitted an affidavit, which contained information about police officers’ prior dealings with Almeida. The affidavit also detailed the background of gang involvement between the defendant’s gang, United Front, and Haywood’s gang, Monte Park. Additionally, the affidavit stated that police suspected Haywood’s death was in retaliation for a United Front member’s murder. A Superior Court judge issued the search warrant, which allowed police officers to provide Almeida a recording device to record a conversation with the defendant. The defendant admitted on tape to being one of the shooters that killed Haywood.
Commonwealth v. Valentin, 470 Mass. 186 (2014)
I. FactsIn July 1991, Timothy Bond stole cocaine from Angel Ruidiaz, who was selling drugs for the defendant’s brother, Simon. Ruidiaz paid Simon for the stolen drugs, but Simon told Ruidiaz that he was “still going to get” Bond. Later that same month, while Bond was with a group of friends, including Kenneth Stokes, Simon and the defendant approached Bond from behind and shot him in the back of the head. Bond fell to the ground and Simon shot him again in the head. Stokes testified that the defendant next stomped on the victim’s head while making a profane death threat. Then the defendant and Simon fled on foot and, as they were running away, the defendant told Simon, “Man, put the gun away, the police are coming.” At the trial, the defendant’s primary defense was an alibi, calling three witnesses to testify that he was playing dominoes elsewhere at the time of the shooting. The Commonwealth called four witnesses, including Stokes, who were at the shooting. All four of these witnesses testified that the defendant either “kicked” or “stomped” on the victim’s head after Simon fired the second shot. However, only Stokes testified that the defendant made a profane statement while he kicked or stomped on the victim’s head. On cross-examination, two witnesses acknowledged they did not tell the police shortly after the incident that they saw the defendant stomp on Bond. Stokes, though cross-examined, was not questioned about his failure to initially tell the police about the defendant’s statement. On the second day of jury deliberations, defendant’s trial counsel, Robinson, asked for the judge’s permission to have her law partner stand in for her. Although her partner had not worked on the case and had only discussed it with Robinson, the judge granted the request without seeking defendant’s consent to the substitution.
Commonwealth v. Leclair, 469 Mass. 777 (2014)
I. FactsOn May 2, 2012 the defendant was arraigned on charges of assault and battery, following an incident between him and his girlfriend that occurred earlier that day at Matthew Sheehan’s (“Sheehan”) apartment. The case went to trial on August 1, 2012, and it was on that day that the Commonwealth first disclosed its intent to call Sheehan as a witness. The judge appointed an attorney to represent Sheehan and to counsel him regarding the potential assertion of his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. After consulting with Sheehan about the questions he could expect upon examination, his attorney informed the court that Sheehan intended to invoke his privilege. Sheehan sought to assert this privilege in order to refuse answering questions that might expose him to criminal charges for possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy to violate the drug laws. After an in camera hearing on this issue, the judge ruled that Sheehan would not be permitted to invoke this privilege. As grounds for this ruling, the judge stated that Sheehan failed to demonstrate that he faced an actual risk that his testimony would “tend to indicate involvement in illegal activity, as opposed to a mere imaginary, remote, or speculative possibility of prosecution.” The case proceeded to trial and Sheehan took the stand as the first witness. During the cross-examination, defense counsel posed questions to Sheehan regarding his use of illegal drugs on the night of the incident. Sheehan responded by invoking his privilege against self-incrimination. The judge then instructed Sheehan to answer the question at which time Sheehan testified that he had used cocaine that night. Defense counsel then proceeded to ask Sheehan further questions regarding his cocaine use. Despite the judge’s prior instruction, Sheehan responded each time by invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege and refusing to answer, as instructed by his attorney.
Commonwealth v. Guzman, 469 Mass. 492 (2014)
I. IssuesThere are three main issues in this case:
- Whether the imposition of the Global Positioning System (“GPS”) is mandatory under chapter 265, section 47 of the Massachusetts General Laws;
- Whether the statutory mandate violates substantive and procedural due process under the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Articles 1, 10, 11, and 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights; and
- Whether the statutory mandate constitutes unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Article Fourteen under the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.
Vast amounts of personal information is placed on social media profiles and websites daily; as a result many attorneys are avidly seeking to use the material as evidence—“It’s one thing to make a fool of yourself in public, but some folks seem to excel at stupidity in front of the entire world.” Millions of Americans spend an enormous amount of time on social media interacting with family, friends, and rekindling past relationships; a danger in posting information to these sites is that the information may be used in court due to the scope of electronic discovery (“e-discovery”). Although not all states have enacted specific e-discovery rules, the effect of e-discovery is drastic due to the abundance of easily accessible information. As the intricacies of electronically stored information (“ESI”) grow because of developments in technology, the need for efficient discovery management grows as well. “Even without having to worry about social media, preservation of electronic information is fraught with danger.” In January 2014, Massachusetts amended its Rules of Civil Procedure to include e-discovery rules. From an efficiency standpoint, amendments should be made to specifically address issues with social media and the authentication of electronic information. Part I of this Note discusses the differences between traditional discovery and e-discovery. Part II argues that the recently enacted Massachusetts e-discovery rules will be more efficient than the Federal e-discovery rules. Parts III and IV argue that amendments must be made to the Massachusetts rules addressing social media and authentication issues. These Parts further propose standards for such amendments.Read more from the most recent On Remand article, Exploring the Newly Enacted Massachusetts E-Discovery Rules by Business Managing Editor Julianna Zitz here.