Posts tagged "1018613"

Commonwealth v. Canty (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-186-13)

NOTICE: All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us     SJC‑11315   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  JOSEPH J. CANTY. Worcester.     September 3, 2013.  ‑  November 6, 2013. Present:  Ireland, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.   Motor Vehicle, Operating under the influence.  Intoxication.  Evidence, Intoxication, Opinion, Indictment, Guilty plea.  Practice, Criminal, Witness, Indictment, Plea.  Witness, Police officer.  Due Process of Law, Elements of criminal offense, Notice, Plea.  Constitutional Law, Indictment, Plea.       Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on July 23, 2009.   The cases were tried before Janet Kenton-Walker, J., and a motion to vacate conviction was considered by her.   The Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct appellate review.     James P. Vander Salm for the defendant. Ellyn H. Lazar-Moore, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.       GANTS, J.  This case presents two issues.  First, where a defendant is charged with operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, may a police officer offer testimony that, in his opinion, the defendant’s ability to drive was diminished by the consumption of alcohol, or that the defendant was “probably impaired” by alcohol?  Second, where an indictment identifies the statute that a defendant has allegedly violated but fails to allege an essential element of proof in describing the offense, does due process require that a guilty plea to that indictment be vacated because the indictment fails to charge a crime?  As to the first issue, we conclude that a police officer who observed the defendant may offer an opinion as to the defendant’s level of intoxication arising from the consumption of alcohol, but may not offer an opinion as to whether the defendant’s intoxication impaired his ability to operate a motor vehicle.  As to the second issue, we conclude that an indictment may charge a crime without alleging all the essential elements of proof, and that due process does not require vacating the defendant’s conviction arising from his guilty plea where the defendant has fair notice of the crime charged and fails to show that he did not understand that he was pleading guilty to that crime. Background.  At approximately 1:38 A.M. on March 8, 2009, Leicester police Officer Frank Bulman was parked on Main Street monitoring traffic when he saw a motor vehicle traveling in the westbound lane come within four inches of striking the curb.  He followed […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - November 6, 2013 at 7:32 pm

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