Posts tagged "1003617"

Commonwealth v. Blanchard (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-036-17)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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-12041   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  MICHAEL BLANCHARD.     February 27, 2017.     Practice, Criminal, Jury and jurors, Deliberation of jury, Instructions to jury, Voir dire, Mistrial, Confrontation of witnesses, Required finding.  Constitutional Law, Jury, Confrontation of witnesses.  Jury and Jurors.  Evidence, Expert opinion, Cross-examination.  Witness, Cross-examination.  Firearms.  License.     In the early morning hours of March 16, 2010, the defendant, by his own admission, fired multiple shots into the window of the apartment where Stephen Erving, Jr., was asleep, and killed him.  The Commonwealth charged the defendant with murder in the first degree, armed assault with the intent to murder, and carrying a firearm without a license.  At trial, there was an issue whether the defendant’s actions were consistent with manslaughter where he argued that he fired the shots to scare, not kill, Erving, who purportedly had threatened the defendant and his family.  The jury ultimately convicted the defendant of murder in the second degree and carrying a firearm without a license.  He appealed from the convictions to the Appeals Court.   Before the Appeals Court, the defendant argued (among other claims) that the trial judge improperly denied his motion for a mistrial on the ground that during the jury’s deliberations, the jurors were exposed to the contents of a binder belonging to the judge that contained copies of various motions, photographs, and transcripts, and included materials that had been excluded as evidence at trial.[1]  The defendant’s position was that the extraneous materials were a factor in the jury’s decision to convict him of murder in the second degree, and that he was therefore prejudiced by the jurors’ unauthorized exposure to them.  The Appeals Court upheld the judge’s denial of the defendant’s motion for a mistrial, rejected his other claims of error, and affirmed the convictions.  Commonwealth v. Blanchard, 88 Mass. App. Ct. 637 (2016).  We granted the defendant’s application for further appellate review, and affirm the convictions.   The principal issue before us is whether the jury’s exposure to the judge’s binder during deliberations should have resulted in a mistrial.  Where a jury have been exposed to extraneous materials, we have differentiated between cases in which the exposure comes to light before a seated jury have completed deliberations, and cases where the exposure is discovered after jurors have already had been discharged.[2]  Compare Commonwealth v. Mejia, 461 Mass. […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - February 28, 2017 at 11:56 pm

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