Posts tagged "Montoya"

Commonwealth v. Montoya (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-041-13)

NOTICE: All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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‑11086   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  EDWIN MONTOYA.     Middlesex.     November 5, 2012.  ‑  March 14, 2013. Present:  Ireland, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.       Controlled Substances.  Constitutional Law, Confrontation of witnesses, Harmless error, Search and seizure, Probable cause, Admissions and confessions.  Error, Harmless.  Practice, Criminal, Confrontation of witnesses, Harmless error, Admissions and confessions, Voluntariness of statement.  Evidence, Certificate of drug analysis, Admissions and confessions, Voluntariness of statement.  Search and Seizure, Probable cause, Automobile.  Probable Cause.  Arrest.       Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on November 9, 2006.   A pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Christopher J. Muse, J.; the cases were tried before Dennis J. Curran, J.; and a motion for new trial, filed on February 4, 2010, was heard by him.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     Paul C. Brennan for the defendant. Paul Trifiletti, Assistant District Attorney (Kevin J. Curtin, Assistant District Attorney, with him) for the Commonwealth.       DUFFLY, J.  During the defendant’s trial in the Superior Court on drug-related charges that included trafficking in cocaine over twenty-eight grams, certificates of chemical analysis establishing the weight and identity of the substance alleged to have been in the defendant’s possession (drug certificates) were erroneously admitted in evidence.  At issue in this case is whether the improper admission of those drug certificates was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt, where jurors had the opportunity to handle and examine the bags of powder cocaine in evidence.  Because we conclude that unaided jurors would not have been able to determine the weight of such small quantities with the requisite degree of precision, and that the evidence otherwise was not overwhelming, the error in admission of the drug certificates was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.  Therefore, the defendant’s convictions must be vacated.   Background.  The defendant was indicted on charges of distribution of cocaine, G. L. c. 94C, § 32A (c); a drug violation within a school zone, G. L. c. 94C, § 32J; trafficking in cocaine over twenty-eight grams and less than one hundred grams, G. L. c. 94C, § 32E (b); and conspiracy to violate the drug laws, G. L. c. 94C, § 40.  The charges stemmed from the defendant’s arrest after State troopers, conducting surveillance in the parking lot of a grocery store, observed […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - March 14, 2013 at 6:52 pm

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