Posts tagged "Guinan"

Commonwealth v. Guinan (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-127-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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   13-P-592                                        Appeals Court   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  DOUGLAS F. GUINAN. No. 13-P-592. Berkshire.     April 8, 2014. – October 3, 2014.   Present:  Berry, Katzmann, & Sullivan, JJ. Motor Vehicle, Homicide, Operating under the influence, Defect.  Homicide.  Evidence, Expert opinion, Qualification of expert witness, Intoxication, Third-party culprit.  Witness, Expert.  Intoxication.       Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on February 18, 2011.   The cases were tried before Daniel A. Ford, J.     Susan E. Taylor for the defendant. John P. Bossé, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.      SULLIVAN, J.  Douglas F. Guinan appeals from convictions of motor vehicle homicide while under the influence of alcohol; and operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, causing serious bodily injury.  See G. L. c. 90, § 24G(a); G. L. c. 90, § 24L(1).  He contends that the trial judge abused his discretion in admitting, over objection, expert testimony ruling out the computer-assisted power steering mechanism of the defendant’s automobile as a cause of the collision.  We conclude that the State trooper who offered this opinion lacked the qualifications to testify regarding the computer system employed in the operation of the motorized power steering mechanism.  Because the issue of causation was a central issue at trial, the error was prejudicial.  Accordingly, we reverse. Background.  1.  The collision.  On October 23, 2010, while traveling north on South Street in Pittsfield, a 2011 Hyundai Sonata operated by the defendant crossed the center line and struck an oncoming Ford Focus, killing the passenger, Michael Ashline, and seriously injuring the driver, Nicole Rudd.  The crash occurred at approximately 5:00 P.M.  The weather and road conditions were dry, and the percipient and expert witnesses agreed that the defendant’s car was going at the speed of traffic and within the speed limit. Five witnesses who were traveling on South Street at the time of the collision testified that they observed nothing unusual before the defendant’s car suddenly swerved left and crossed the center line.  Two other witnesses testified that the car veered to the right once, then a second time, striking the curb and causing rubber to peel off the passenger’s side tire.  The car then veered to the left and into oncoming traffic.  The Commonwealth’s accident reconstruction experts did not, however, observe any damage to or marks on the tires or the whitewalls consistent with hitting a curb […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - October 3, 2014 at 2:37 pm

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