What's New


8/2/21: Judge Stearns has revised the opening chapters on criminal procedure to include among other significant new decisions, a discussion of the Supreme Judicial Court's guidance in Mushwaalakbar v. Commonwealth, 487 Mass. 627 (2021), on pretrial detention in the time of COVID, and an important right of confrontation case, Commonwealth v. Rand, 487 Mass. 811 (2021), which adopts the "ongoing emergency" exception defined by the Supreme Court in Michigan v. Bryant. Other new decisions address exculpatory evidence, double jeopardy, continuance, and juvenile justice, among other topics.

7/24/21: Judge Stearns has revised and updated the chapters on "Searches Incident to Arrest" and "Plain View Seizures" to incorporate among other developments a commentary on Lange v. California, the Supreme Court's recent misdemeanor hot pursuit decision.

7/16/21: Judge Stearns has revised and updated the chapters on "Domestic Abuse", "Forgery", and "Criminal Trespass".

7/1/21: Judge Stearns has revised the chapter in "Search and Seizure" on "Threshold Inquiries" to include the Supreme Court's decision in Caniglia v. Strom, limiting the scope of the community caretaking doctrine, as well as several recent Appeals Court cases discussing the proper scope of vehicle stops and the fine line between the right to order a suspect to exit a vehicle and the right to conduct a frisk.

6/9/21: Judge Stearns has revised the chapter on "Search and Seizure" to include a number of new cases. Of particular significance are Commonwealth v. Delgado-Rivera, 487 Mass. 551 (2021), in which Justice Gaziano strongly hints that the Supreme Judicial Court is prepared to abandon its traditional art. 14 analysis treating standing and expectation of privacy as separate issues in favor of the Supreme Court's Fourth Amendment single step inquiry into the reasonableness of a defendant's expectation of privacy, and Commonwealth v. Pearson, 486 Mass. 809 (2021), in which the Court in an opinion authored by Chief Justice Budd replaces the objective test of the first prong of the independent source exception with the Supreme Court's hybrid subjective test. The chapter on "Identification Evidence" has also been revised to incorporate new cases on the authentication of social media and the proper implementation of the Daubert-Lanigan test of expert scientific and technical evidence.

5/18/21: Judge Stearns has revised the chapter on "Police and Police Misconduct" to incorporate new cases on the use of force, due process, qualified immunity, and prisoner rights, among other topics.

5/3/21: Judge Stearns has revised the chapter on "Indecent Assault and Battery" with a principal focus on issues of potential juror bias, the use of peremptory challenges, and post-verdict access to juror questionnaires, as well as noting new cases on the consent defense and the first complaint doctrine. The chapter on "Threshold Inquiries" has been revised to include new cases discussing the community caretaking doctrine and the quantum of suspicion necessary to justify an investigatory stop. Judge Stearns has also included a commentary on Torres v. Madrid, an important recent Supreme Court case discussing the use of force to effect an arrest.

4/19/21: Judge Stearns has revised the chapters on "Motor Vehicle Offenses" to incorporate new cases on proof of operation and on leaving the scene and the Daigle decision, 99 Mass. App. Ct. 107 (2021), on Breathalyzer refusal evidence, as well as to note important post-Camblin developments. The chapter on "Assault and Battery: Dangerous Weapon" has been revised with particular note of the holding in Commonwealth v. Colas, 486 Mass. 831 (2021), regarding the pointing of a weapon and proof of an intent to kill.

3/19/21: Judge Stearns has revised the chapters on court procedure and practice to highlight new cases discussing the duty to disclose exculpatory evidence, impeachment, and the sentencing of juveniles, among other topics.

3/10/21: Judge Stearns has revised the chapter on "Public Order Offenses" to comment on Justice Kafker's recent decisions in Manolo M., 486 Mass. 678 (2021), and Nick N., 486 Mass. 696 (2021), clarifying the procedures to be followed in applying the "second chance" opportunity given juveniles who commit minor offenses by the 2018 Criminal Justice Reform Act. New cases discussing First Amendment speech restrictions, the elements of open and gross lewdness, and deriving support from prostitution are also noted.

2/24/21: Judge Stearns has revised the chapters on "Identification Evidence", "Battery", and "Drug Crimes" to note new cases discussing authentication, third-party culprit hearsay, self-defense, constructive possession, and the medical use of marijuana, among other topics.

2/5/21: Judge Stearns has revised the chapter on "Searches with Warrants" to explain the impact of the new "Police Reform" statute severely restricting the issuance of no-knock search warrants. Also included are new cases discussing staleness, digital searches, connection to the premises, and controlled buys, among other topics.

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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