Posts tagged "Ramsey"

Commonwealth v. Ramsey (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-178-13)

NOTICE: All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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‑11300   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  AARON RAMSEY. Hampden.     May 9, 2013.  ‑  September 27, 2013. Present:  Ireland, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Gants, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.   Firearms.  Controlled Substances.  Constitutional Law, Confrontation of witnesses, Harmless error.  Evidence, Ballistician’s certificate, Certificate of drug analysis, Expert opinion.  Practice, Criminal, Confrontation of witnesses, Stipulation, Harmless error.  Witness, Expert.  Error, Harmless.  Necessity.       Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on February 2, 2007.   The cases were tried before John A. Agostini, J.   After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review.     Susan E. Taylor for the defendant. Jane Davidson Montori, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.     CORDY, J.  In 2008, a jury in the Superior Court found the defendant guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm, in violation of G. L. c. 269, § 10 (a); and unlawful possession of a Class B controlled substance, cocaine, in violation of   G. L. c. 94C, § 34.  As proof that the weapon the defendant possessed was a firearm and the substances found in his clothing were cocaine, the Commonwealth offered in evidence a ballistics certificate and two certificates of drug analysis.  The certificates were admitted without testimony from the analysts who had prepared them, and without objection by the defendant.  The defendant subsequently appealed, arguing that he was denied his right to a fair trial under the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution because the certificates were admitted without a showing of the unavailability of the analysts or a prior opportunity to cross-examine them, in contravention of Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 557 U.S. 305 (2009).  A divided panel of the Appeals Court affirmed the firearms conviction but reversed the drug conviction.  Commonwealth v. Ramsey, 79 Mass. App. Ct. 724, 730-731 (2011).  We granted both parties’ applications for further appellate review.  Because we are satisfied that the improper admission of both the ballistics certificate and drug certificates did not contribute to the jury’s verdict, where the defendant conceded as part of his trial strategy that he possessed both the gun and cocaine and agreed that the jury be instructed that the Commonwealth had proven all elements of both charges beyond a reasonable doubt, we conclude that the certificates’ introduction at trial was harmless beyond a reasonable […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - September 27, 2013 at 5:07 pm

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