Posts tagged "1010316"

Commonwealth v. Francis (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-103-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030;   SJC-11988   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  DANIEL FRANCIS.       Suffolk.     March 8, 2016. – July 20, 2016.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.     Controlled Substances.  Constitutional Law, Conduct of government agents.  Due Process of Law, Disclosure of evidence, Presumption.  Practice, Criminal, New trial, Conduct of government agents, Disclosure of evidence, Presumptions and burden of proof.  Evidence, Certificate of drug analysis, Disclosure of evidence, Presumptions.       Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on March 13, 2006.   The cases were tried before Frank M. Gaziano, J., and a motion for a new trial, filed on October 1, 2012, was considered by him.   After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review.     David J. Rotondo for the defendant. Benjamin B. Selman, Committee for Public Counsel Services, for Committee for Public Counsel Services. Vincent J. DeMore, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.     GANTS, C.J.  This is yet another in the series of cases arising from the misconduct of Annie Dookhan when she was employed as a chemist at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute (Hinton drug lab).  Here, the defendant was found guilty at trial of the trafficking and distribution of cocaine.  At trial, certificates of drug analysis (drug certificates) were admitted in evidence, signed by Dookhan as an assistant analyst, that declared that the substances in question were cocaine and that set forth their weight.  The defendant learned of Dookhan’s misconduct after trial, and now moves for a new trial based on that misconduct.  At issue on appeal is whether a defendant found guilty at trial who moves for a new trial is entitled to the same conclusive presumption of “egregious government misconduct” that we applied in Commonwealth v. Scott, 467 Mass. 336, 352-354 (2014), to cases where a defendant seeks to withdraw his or her guilty plea after learning of Dookhan’s misconduct. We conclude that a defendant in these circumstances is entitled to the same conclusive presumption.  The consequence of the conclusive presumption is that we deem it error to have admitted the drug certificates or comparable evidence regarding Dookhan’s drug analysis where the defendant had no knowledge of Dookhan’s misconduct and therefore no opportunity to challenge the admissibility or credibility of that evidence.  We […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - July 20, 2016 at 8:00 pm

Categories: News   Tags: , , , ,