Posts tagged "1112414"

Commonwealth v. Douglas (and five companion cases) (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-124-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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;   12-P-1992                                       Appeals Court   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  JASON DOUGLAS (and five companion cases[1]). No. 12-P-1992. Suffolk.     January 13, 2014. – September 30, 2014.   Present:  Cypher, Rubin, & Hines, JJ.[2]     Firearms.  Constitutional Law, Search and seizure.  Search and Seizure, Motor vehicle, Threshold police inquiry, Protective frisk.  Evidence, Firearm.  Threshold Police Inquiry.  Practice, Criminal, Motion to suppress.       Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on September 28, 2011.   Pretrial motions to suppress evidence were heard by Janet L. Sanders, J.   An application for leave to prosecute an interlocutory appeal was allowed by Robert J. Cordy, J., in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk, and the appeal was reported by him to the Appeals Court. Elisabeth Martino, Assistant District Attorney (Joseph Janezic, Assistant District Attorney, with her) for the Commonwealth. Michael Tumposky for Jason Douglas. Daniel R. Katz for Wayne Steed.     CYPHER, J.  This is an appeal by the Commonwealth after a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court allowed the Commonwealth’s petition under Mass.R.Crim.P. 15, as appearing in 422 Mass. 1501 (1996).  In ruling on the defendants’ motions to suppress, a judge in the Superior Court held that the seizure by police officers of a firearm found under a passenger’s seat during a “patfrisk” of the interior of a motor vehicle was impermissible because, although the stop of the vehicle was justified, the police had exceeded the permissible scope of the search when they looked under the passenger’s seat before the occupants returned to the vehicle.  Specifically, the judge reasoned that “[a]ny suspicion which might have been prompted by any movement (or lack thereof) by the car’s occupants was dispelled by the removal and pat frisk of each individual’s person.”[3]  We reverse the order allowing the motions to suppress. 1.  Standard of review.  ”[W]e accept the motion judge’s subsidiary findings of fact absent clear error.”  Commonwealth v. Sinforoso, 434 Mass. 320, 321 (2001), quoting from Commonwealth v. Sanna, 424 Mass. 92, 97 (1997).  ”We review de novo the judge’s application of constitutional principles.”  Commonwealth v. Martin, 467 Mass. 291, 301 (2014).  We must assess the reasonableness of a police officer’s actions based upon the “circumstances confronting the officer in the field, not those facing the judge in the tranquility of the courtroom.” Commonwealth v. Dedominicis, 42 Mass. App. Ct. 76, […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - September 30, 2014 at 6:42 pm

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