Posts tagged "1017713"

Commonwealth v. Ortiz (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-177-13)

NOTICE: All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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‑11298   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  LUIS ORTIZ.       Norfolk.     May 9, 2013.  ‑  September 27, 2013. Present:  Ireland, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.       Controlled Substances.  Practice, Criminal, Stipulation, Presumptions and burden of proof.  Rules of Criminal Procedure.       Complaint received and sworn to in the Quincy Division of the District Court Department on July 7, 2010.   The case was tried before Mark S. Coven, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct appellate review.     Robert L. Sheketoff for the defendant. Pamela L. Alford, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.       BOTSFORD, J.  The defendant appeals from his convictions of distribution of a class B controlled substance, G. L. c. 94C, § 32A (c), and committing a drug offense within a school zone, G. L. c. 94C, § 32J.  The trial took place before a jury in 2011, more than two years after the United States Supreme Court decided Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 557 U.S. 305 (2009).  Before trial, the defendant’s trial counsel orally stipulated that the substance at issue was cocaine and both the Commonwealth and defendant effectively treated this as an established fact during trial, but the jury only became aware of the stipulation itself when the judge spoke of it during his final charge to the jury.  The defendant appeals from his convictions, arguing, among other claims, that because the stipulation never was presented to the jury, the Commonwealth failed to prove that the substance was cocaine and his motion for a required finding of not guilty should have been allowed.[1]  In a related vein, the defendant contends that any stipulation to an element of the crime charged must be recorded in a writing and signed by the defendant or at least the subject of a colloquy between the defendant and the trial judge, and the use of his trial counsel’s oral stipulation without any writing signed by the defendant, or any judicial colloquy, constituted error requiring a new trial.   To date, we have not established any particular method for the parties in a criminal case to handle trial stipulations about the existence of an element of a crime or of a material fact more generally.  Even if there were error in the manner the stipulation was handled in the present case, where the defendant […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - September 27, 2013 at 8:43 pm

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