Posts tagged "Brangan"

Brangan v. Commonwealth (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-185-17)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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-12284   JAHMAL BRANGAN  vs.  COMMONWEALTH.       Suffolk.     September 7, 2017. – November 14, 2017.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Gaziano, Budd, Cypher, & Kafker, JJ.     Practice, Criminal, Double jeopardy, Indictment, Conduct of prosecutor, Argument by prosecutor.  Robbery.       Civil action commenced in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk on December 19, 2016.   The case was considered by Lowy, J.     Merritt Schnipper for the defendant. Amal Bala, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.     CYPHER, J.  The petitioner, Jahmal Brangan, appeals from the denial, by a single justice of the county court, of his petition for relief from the denial of his motion to dismiss the indictment against him for armed robbery while masked by the trial judge, after the Commonwealth’s closing argument led to a mistrial.  Brangan argues that principles of double jeopardy forbid his retrial because the Commonwealth did not present sufficient evidence to sustain a guilty finding or, alternatively, the prosecutor’s misconduct was so egregious that it warranted a dismissal of the indictment.  We affirm the decision of the single justice. Background.  The following facts are taken from Commonwealth v. Brangan, 475 Mass. 143 (2016), and from the trial record.[1] In January, 2014, a bank in Springfield was robbed.  The robber entered the bank with his face obscured by a hat and sunglasses.  He was wearing gloves.  His nose and his cheeks were nonetheless visible.  He approached a teller’s window, but that window was closed so the teller asked him to move to another teller window.  He then approached a second teller window and handed a note to that teller.  The note stated that the robber had a weapon and demanded all of the teller’s cash.  The teller complied and gave the robber an envelope with less than $ 1,000 in cash.  The robber fled, and the police arrived shortly thereafter.  The police processed the note for fingerprints within hours of the crime.  On the note, the police found Brangan’s thumbprint.  They also found a right palm print that was unusable for determining a match.  Brangan was arrested. At trial, both bank tellers testified about the robber’s appearance.  The tellers each described her recollection of the robber’s race, skin tone, and nose shape and size.  One teller described the robber as having acne scars on his […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - November 14, 2017 at 3:23 pm

Categories: News   Tags: , , , ,

Brangan v. Commonwealth (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-143-17)

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-12232   JAHMAL BRANGAN  vs.  COMMONWEALTH.       Suffolk.     May 2, 2017. – August 25, 2017.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Hines, Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, & Cypher, JJ.[1]     Bail.  Indigent.  Due Process of Law, Pretrial detainees.       Civil action commenced in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk on February 26, 2016.   The case was heard by Lenk, J.     Merritt Schnipper for the petitioner. Amal Bala, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth. Shira Diner & Ryan M. Schiff, for Committee for Public Counsel Services, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.     HINES, J.  The practice of releasing a defendant on bail prior to trial has been part of Massachusetts law since its beginnings as a colony.  See Commonwealth v. Baker, 343 Mass. 162, 165 (1961).  The Body of Liberties (1641), the oldest known compilation of Massachusetts Colonial law, provided that: “18.  No mans person shall be restrained or imprisoned by any Authority whatsoever, before the law hath sentenced him thereto, If he can put in sufficient securitie, bayle or mainprise, for his appearance, and good behaviour in the meane time, unlesse it be in Crimes Capital, and Contempts in open Court, and in such cases where some expresse act of Court doth allow it.”   See Baker, supra.   This statement, although nearly four centuries old, summarizes well the dual functions of bail.  On the one hand, release on bail preserves the liberty of the accused until he or she has been afforded the full measure of due process in a criminal trial.  “This traditional right to freedom before conviction permits the unhampered preparation of a defense, and serves to prevent the infliction of punishment prior to conviction. . . .  Unless this right to bail before trial is preserved, the presumption of innocence, secured only after centuries of struggle, would lose its meaning” (citation omitted).  Stack v. Boyle, 342 U.S. 1, 4 (1951).[2]  On the other hand, the giving of security serves to assure that the defendant will appear in court when called to do so.  “The right to release before trial is conditioned upon the accused’s giving adequate assurance that he will stand trial and submit to sentence if found guilty.”  Id.  Where, as in this case, the defendant is unable to give the necessary security for his appearance at […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - August 25, 2017 at 11:48 pm

Categories: News   Tags: , , , ,

Commonwealth v. Brangan (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-124-16)

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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-12037   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  JAHMAL BRANGAN.       Hampden.     April 7, 2016. – August 12, 2016.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.[1]     Practice, Criminal, Appeal by Commonwealth, Mistrial.       Indictment found and returned in the Superior Court Department on February 25, 2014.   The case was tried before Mark D. Mason, J., and a mistrial was ordered by him.   The Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct appellate review.     Amal Bala, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth. Merritt Schnipper for the defendant.     CORDY, J.  On March 13, 2015, a jury convicted the defendant of armed robbery while masked, in violation of G. L. c. 265, § 17.  During closing argument, the defendant objected to a series of the prosecutor’s statements, and at its conclusion moved for a mistrial, claiming that those statements constituted prejudicial error.  The trial judge, who had given curative instructions in response to the defendant’s objections, took the defendant’s motion under advisement, gave the jury final instructions, and placed the case in their hands for deliberations.      After the jury returned a guilty verdict, the judge solicited briefs from both parties on the prejudicial error issue and held a nonevidentiary hearing.  He then granted the defendant’s motion for a mistrial,[2] ordering that the defendant’s indictment would stand for retrial.  The Commonwealth sought an appeal of the judge’s decision pursuant to G. L. c. 278, § 28E, suggesting that the judge had granted a motion for a new trial, as opposed to a mistrial.  The case was entered in the Appeals Court, and we allowed the defendant’s motion for direct appellate review. On appeal, the Commonwealth argues that, although an order granting a mistrial is generally not appealable, we have jurisdiction to hear its appeal pursuant to G. L. c. 278, § 28E, because the defendant’s motion, granted after the verdict, was akin to a motion for relief from a guilty verdict under the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure.[3]  See Mass. R. Crim. P. 25 (c), as amended, 420 Mass. 1502 (1995) (right of appeal where motion for required finding of not guilty granted after verdict of guilty); Mass. R. Crim. P. 30 (c) (8), as appearing in 435 Mass. 1501 (2001) (right of appeal where motion for new trial granted).  Because we conclude that the timing […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - August 12, 2016 at 10:33 pm

Categories: News   Tags: , , , ,