What's New

2020

1/18/21: Judge Stearns has revised the chapter on "Firearms Offenses" to take particular note of Justice Gaziano's important decision in Commonwealth v. Ashford, 486 Mass. 450 (2020), excluding crimes of recklessness as predicates for sentencing under the Massachusetts Armed Career Criminal Act, as well as new cases involving proof of knowledge that a firearm is loaded, and other significant developments.

1/4/21: Judge Stearns has revised the chapter on "Search and Seizure" to take particular note of an important new decision, Commonwealth v Gosselin, 486 Mass. 256 (2020), that makes clear that the third-party records doctrine remains (for the most part) alive and well in Massachusetts.

12/21/20: Judge Stearns has revised the chapter on "Assaults on Police and Police Misconduct" to include his commentary on the impact he believes that the proposed "Police Reform" Act will have on the doctrine of qualified immunity and excessive force claims (basically, very little). Also noted is Tinsley v. Town of Framingham, 485 Mass. 760 (2020), an important new Supreme Judicial Court case discussing the Massachusetts application of the Heck rule, along with other cases affecting civil rights actions, the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, and more.

12/6/20: Judge Stearns has updated the chapter on "Motor Vehicle Offenses" to discuss, among other new developments, the Supreme Judicial Court's decision in Commonwealth v. Bohigian, , 486 Mass. 209 (2020), nullifying the authority of judges to issue search warrants permitting the forcible extraction of blood samples in drunk driving cases where a defendant has refused to consent to a test.

11/23/20: Judge Stearns has updated the chapters on "Procedure" to note new cases affecting joint venture prosecutions, the right of confrontation, and dispositions in juvenile cases. The chapter on "Assault" has been updated to take note of the important case of Commonwealth v. Dunphe, 485 Mass. 871 (2020), and its refinement of the DiPadova instruction regarding the impact of the voluntary consumption of drugs and alcohol on criminal responsibility.

10/27/20: Judge Stearns has revised the chapter on "Admissions and Confessions" to note new cases addressing immunity, client perjury, the right to counsel, the right to silence, voluntariness, and custodial interrogation.

10/13/20: This is the 40th Edition of the Prosecutor's Guide.

Judge Stearns has revised the chapters on "Threshold Inquiries", "Searches Incident to Arrest", and "Public Order Offenses" with the important cases of Commonwealth v. Jones 98 Mass. App. Ct. 120 (2020), and Commonwealth v. Evelyn, 485 Mass. 691 (2020), and the attempt to address racial profiling in the context of traffic stops as the major topic of discussion.

10/3/20: Judge Stearns has revised the sections on "Bail" and "Other Crimes Evidence" in "Procedure 1" to highlight Justice Lowy's elaboration on the Brangan requirements in Walsh v. Commonwealth, 485 Mass. 567 (2020), and new cases touching on proof of state of mind, motive, and common scheme, as well as undue prejudice.

9/15/20: Judge Stearns has revised the chapter on "Indecent Assault Battery", which discusses, among other topics, the law governing jury empanelment, to incorporate the Supreme Judicial Court's groundbreaking decision in Commonwealth v. Sanchez, 485 Mass. 491 (2020), that aligns state with federal law prohibiting the discriminatory use of peremptory challenges. The chapter on "Search and Seizure" has been revised to take note of Commonwealth v. Mora, 485 Mass. 360 (2020), a pole camera surveillance case, elaborating on the Court's recently adopted "mosaic theory" of the expectation of privacy.

8/16/20: Judge Stearns has revised the chapters on "Identification Evidence", "Indecent Assault and Battery", "Receiving Stolen Property", and "Firearms Offenses" to incorporate new cases dealing with jury issues, jury unanimity, the authentication of evidence, proof of knowledge that a weapon is loaded, and Firearm Identification Card applications, among many other topics.

8/11/20: Judge Stearns has updated and revised the chapters on "Drug Crimes", "Dangerous Weapons", "Search and Seizure", "Consent Searches", and "Exigent Searches" to incorporate recent developments in the case law.

7/21/20: Judge Stearns has revised the chapters on court procedure to incorporate new developments with respect to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Speedy Trial Act matters (including pretrial detention), as well as new cases discussing the separation of powers, continuances, gang affiliation evidence, and the Confrontation Clause. Judge Stearns also draws attention to the Supreme Judicial Court's suggestion in Commonwealth v. Watt, 484 Mass. 742 (2020), that it might be open to extending its "cruel or unusual punishment" reasoning in Diatchenko to persons under age twenty-two.

7/13/20: Judge Stearns has revised the chapters on "Battery" and "Domestic Abuse" to note, among other topics, new cases on the law of self-defense and two new Appeals Court cases by Justice Hanlon clarifying the burden of proof in establishing a reasonable fear of imminent harm and the rules governing the appealability of Chapter 209A and Chapter 258E orders.

7/1/20: Judge Stearns has revised and updated the chapter on "Admissions and Confessions" to include a number of recent developments in Massachusetts and federal law.

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