Posts tagged "1016814"

Commonwealth v. LeClair, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-168-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-11469   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  JASON J. LECLAIR & another.1 Hampshire.     March 6, 2014. – October 10, 2014. Present:  Ireland, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.2 Contempt.  Practice, Criminal, Contempt.  Constitutional Law, Self-incrimination.  Witness, Self-incrimination.       Complaint received and sworn to in the Northampton Division of the District Court Department on May 2, 2012.   An adjudication of contempt was made by W. Michael Goggins, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     Paul R. Rudof, Committee for Public Counsel Services (Dana Goldblatt with him) for the intervener. Cynthia M. Von Flatern, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth. Michael C. Walsh & Stephanie K. Fattman, pro se, amici curiae, submitted a brief.     DUFFLY, J.  A nonimmunized witness in a criminal trial  repeatedly refused to answer questions posed by the prosecutor concerning his use of illegal drugs on the ground of the privilege against self-incrimination.  The prosecutor represented to the witness and the trial judge that the Commonwealth had no intention of pursuing such a prosecution, but when the witness, advised by his attorney, refused to answer, the judge directed the witness to do so.  When the witness continued to refuse, the judge found the witness in summary criminal contempt and imposed a sentence of ninety days’ incarceration, which he stayed pending resolution of the witness’s interlocutory appeal. In considering the witness’s appeal, we are confronted with the question whether the judgment of contempt should not have entered because, regardless of the Commonwealth’s intention, the compelled admission was a violation of the witness’s privilege against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and art. 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.  We conclude that, in these circumstances, the witness validly invoked his privilege against self-incrimination, that his compelled responses to such questioning did not constitute a waiver of the privilege, and that the judgment of summary contempt should not have entered. Background and prior proceedings.  On May 2, 2012, the defendant was arraigned on a charge of assault and battery, G. L. c. 265, § 13A, as a result of an incident between the defendant and his girl friend that had taken place in his friend Mark Sheehan’s apartment at approximately 10 A.M. that morning.3 On August 1, 2012, the day that trial was scheduled […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - October 10, 2014 at 6:22 pm

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