Posts tagged "1117115"

Commonwealth v. Packer (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-171-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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;   13-P-928                                        Appeals Court   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  CHRISTINE M. PACKER. No. 13-P-928. Hampden.     May 6, 2014. – October 27, 2015.   Present:  Berry, Milkey, & Maldonado, JJ.   Assault and Battery.  Parent and Child, Discipline.  Child Abuse.  Practice, Criminal, Affirmative defense, Request for jury instructions, Instructions to jury, Presumptions and burden of proof.     Complaint received and sworn to in the Westfield Division of the District Court Department on April 1, 2011.   The case was tried before Philip A. Contant, J.     Jessica L. LaClair for the defendant. Deborah D. Ahlstrom, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.     MILKEY, J.  Following a jury trial in the District Court, the defendant, Christine M. Packer, was convicted of assault and battery of her fourteen year old stepdaughter (daughter), pursuant to G. L. c. 265, § 13(A)(a).  The daughter’s father was likewise charged, and there was a joint trial.  Both defendants requested a jury instruction on the affirmative defense of parental discipline.  At the conclusion of the evidence, the judge instructed the jury that they could consider excusing the father’s actions as reasonable parental discipline, but that they could not do so with regard to the defendant.  The jury found the defendant guilty, while acquitting the father.  On appeal, the defendant argues that this differential treatment constituted reversible error.  Under the particular circumstances presented, we agree. Background.  The family.  At the time of the incident, the daughter lived with her father, the defendant, and the daughter’s eight year old half-sister (born of the father and the defendant).  The father and the defendant were married, and the jury reasonably could have inferred that the couple had been together for at least eight years (the age of the half-sister).[1]  The father was never married to the daughter’s biological mother, and the daughter never lived with her.  In fact, there was no evidence whatsoever that the daughter’s biological mother had any ongoing parenting role in her life. With the biological mother playing no apparent role in the daughter’s life, the daughter viewed the defendant as her “mother” or “mom” (as she repeatedly referred to the defendant in her trial testimony).  Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the adolescent daughter’s relationship with the defendant was somewhat volatile.  The daughter testified that she simultaneously loved and could not “stand” the defendant.  When the father’s counsel tried to get […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - October 27, 2015 at 4:37 pm

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