Posts tagged "1007816"

Commonwealth v. Hartfield (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-078-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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-11948 COMMONWEALTH  vs.  NKRUMAH N. HARTFIELD.       Suffolk.     February 9, 2016. – June 9, 2016.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ. Due Process of Law, Probation revocation.  Practice, Criminal, Revocation of probation, Hearsay, Confrontation of witnesses, Findings by judge.  Witness, Victim.  Evidence, Hearsay.       Complaint received and sworn to in the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court Department on December 7, 2009.   A proceeding for revocation of probation was heard by Jonathan R. Tynes, J.   After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review.     Kathleen J. Hill for the probationer. Helle Sachse, Assistant District Attorney (Lynn S. Feigenbaum, Assistant District Attorney, with her) for the Commonwealth. Crispin Birnbaum, Special Assistant Attorney General, & Nina L. Pomponio for Commissioner of Probation, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.     GANTS, C.J.  The primary issue on appeal is whether a judge’s decision in a probation violation hearing to admit in evidence hearsay statements of an alleged victim regarding a new criminal offense bars the probationer from calling the alleged victim to testify.  We conclude that it does not.  Because the judge erred in concluding that it was inherently inconsistent to allow the alleged victim to be called to testify by the probationer after her hearsay statements were admitted in evidence when offered by the probation department, and because the error was constitutional in nature and not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, we vacate the finding of a violation of probation and the order revoking probation, and remand for a new hearing.      Background.  We recite the facts based on the testimony and documentary evidence from the probation violation hearing held in the Dorchester Division of the Boston Municipal Court Department on July 2, 2013.  During the probation department’s presentation of evidence, the judge heard testimony from the assistant chief probation officer and a Boston police detective, Ediberto Figueroa, who investigated the case.[1]  Over the probationer’s objection, the judge also admitted in evidence the alleged victim’s testimony before the grand jury, two serology reports, and a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) report from the Boston police crime laboratory.  The reports were admitted through the testimony of Detective Figueroa; no criminalist testified. The probationer had been placed on probation supervision after pleading guilty to one count of […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - June 9, 2016 at 8:07 pm

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