Salvucci Harris, LLC Blog

'Another view of Boston' found at https://flic.kr/p/bURAAa by Navaneeth K N (https://flickr.com/people/navaneethkn) used under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/)
'Another view of Boston' found at https://flic.kr/p/bURAAa by Navaneeth K N (https://flickr.com/people/navaneethkn) used under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/)
'Another view of Boston' found at https://flic.kr/p/bURAAa by Navaneeth K N (https://flickr.com/people/navaneethkn) used under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/)

Not Guilty - Receiving Stolen Motor Vehicle Bench Trial

After a Motion to Suppress, the Court ruled that the Defendant's request to suppress any and all out of court and in court identifications by the car owner was allowed. Additionally, the statements of the Defendant after his arrest were similarly suppressed at the request of Attorney Harris. At a subsequent bench trial in the West Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court, the Commonwealth elicited testimony from three witnesses in an attempt to establish that the defendant was a passenger in a motor vehicle when it was involved in a single car crash five hours after it was stolen. After trial, Judge Shoptease found that the defendant was Not Guilty of the single charge of knowingly receiving a stolen motor vehicle.

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NOT GUILTY - CHECK FRAUD JURY VERDICT

Successfully defended a client against charges of Larceny, Forgery, and Uttering in the West Roxbury Division of the Boston Municipal Court in December 2013.  A required finding of Not Guilty was entered by the trial judge on both Larceny and Forgery. The jury returned a verdict of Not Guilty on the one remaining count of Uttering.

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Personal Injury Settlement - $100,000

I recently obtained a $100,000 settlement for a personal injury client prior to filing a lawsuit. The client, an elderly woman, suffered serious personal injuries as a result of being knocked over by an employee/agent at a local hospital.  Her injuries included a fractured wrist and head contusion that led to a lengthy stay at a rehabilitation facility.  Although nothing could ever fully compensate the client for loss of quality of life that her injuries caused, this settlement is a first step towards her regaining her independence.

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Scandal at Drug Lab May Lead to Overturned Convictions and New Trials

It has recently come to light that a chemist at the drug lab in Jamaica Plain mishandled drug evidence, altered the weight of drugs, failed to calibrate the testing machines correctly, and even manipulated samples to get positive results for illegal narcotics when the sample that was submitted to the lab was in fact not an illegal substance.

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Want a court-appointed attorney? Be prepared to prove you need it.

The Supreme Judicial Court in Massachusetts made it harder for individuals who need court-appointed legal representation to get it in two separate decisions that came down yesterday. The Court ruled that "a criminal defendant who seeks to have counsel appointed at public expense bears the burden of proving indigency by a preponderance of the evidence." Commonwealth v. Porter. In evaluating the individual's income and ability to pay, the Court will consider the spouse's (or live-in significant other's) income and assets.  If a parent is substantially supporting the individual seeking assigned counsel, that parent's financial situation shall be considered as well in making an indigency determination..  Commonwealth v. Fico.  Be prepared to show documentation regarding the bills and expenses that you have, whether or not the other individuals in your household are willing and able to  contribute to your legal defense funds, and the value and ease of liquidity of any property that you may own.

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Mandatory Life Without the Possibility of Parole for Juveniles is Unconstitutional.

Today the Supreme Court ruled in the matters of Miller v. Arkansas and Jackson v. Arkansas that "mandatory life without parole for those under the age of 18 at the time of their crimes violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of  'cruel and unusual punishments'."  The Court noted in its decision that juveniles have "diminished culpability and heightened capacity for change."  In order for the punishment for a juvenile to be proportional to the crime that he/she committed, the judge must have the discretion to factor in youth in imposing a sentence on the juvenile. This decision is a positive step towards recognizing the increasing body of research demonstrating the diminished mental capacity of juveniles due to developmental delays in our criminal courts.

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SJC Decides Not to Expand Common Law Social Host Liability

In Massachusetts, a social host may be held liable in for the injuries of a third-party in cases where "an intoxicated guest's negligent operation of a motor vehicle where a social host who knew or should have known that his guest was drunk, nevertheless gave him or permitted him to take an alcoholic drink and thereafter, because of his intoxication, the guest negligently operated a motor vehicle causing the third person's injury."  See McGuiggan v. New England Tel. & Tel. Co., 398 Mass. 152, 162 (1986).  In the recent case of Juliano v. Simpson, the Plaintiffs sought to expand the common law doctrine of social host liability to include  social hosts who merely provide a venue for underage guests to consume alcohol, but who do not provide nor control the alcohol at the venue.  See Juliano v. Simpson, SJC-10843, February 21, 2012.  In this case, the injured Plaintiff was a guest at a party hosted by the underage Defendant.  The Plaintiff's boyfriend, who was also a guest at the party, came to the party with a bottle of rum and a 30-pack of beer.  He consumed some of the alcohol that he brought while at the party and then left the party with the Plaintiff to drive her home.  The driver was intoxicated and struck a utility pole on his way home, injuring himself and the Plaintiff.  The Plaintiff sought to hold the host of the party liable for her injuries because she provided and controlled the location where the party was held.  The Plaintiff argued that this form of social host liability should be allowed because there is a criminal law which penalizes furnishing alcohol to minors and which includes in its definition of "furnishing," knowingly or intentionally allowing an underage person to possess alcohol on their property.  The SJC declined to accept this reasoning, noting that the criminal statute does not impose civil liability.  The SJC declined to extend liability to either underage age or of-age hosts in such a situation.  I tend to agree with Justice Gants' concurring opinion, however, which suggests reserving any decision on the liability of a of-age social host until such a case is presented.  Justice Gants noted that "it is not difficult to imagine egregious circumstances where an adult of legal drinking age encourages underage guest to 'bring your own beer or booze' to get drunk at his or her house, one whom later kills or cripples someone while driving home, that might cause us to look differently at whether we should impose liability on such an irresponsible social host."  See Id. at pg. 8.

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A Positive Step Towards Policing the Police: More courts are acknowledging the right of individuals to record public officials in the performance of their public duties.

When it comes to recording conversations in Massachusetts, we are a two-party consent state.  This essentially means that both parties must be aware of the recording and/or have consented to the recording.  The Massachusetts Wiretapping Statute, M.G.L. 272, Sec. 99(c) (1), provides that "any person who willfully commits an interception (defined as secretly hearing or secretly recording by means of an interception device), or aid another to secretly hear or secretly record, attempts to commit an interception, or procures any other person to commit an interception or to attempt to commit an interception of any wire or oral communication" will be fined and/or imprisoned.  The broad definition of the crime includes concealing a cell phone video camera to obtain a video and audio recording without the consent or knowledge of all parties being recorded.

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Do your homework, it will help cut down on legal fees in your divorce.

People are always asking me how they can save money on their divorce case. The number one piece of advice that I give them is to do their homework. In a Divorce action, Supplement Probate Court Rule 410 requires that the parties AUTOMATICALLY provide the following documents to the opposing party (within 45 days from the date of service of the summons):

The ABC's of the Massachusetts Criminal Courts

The Massachusetts criminal courts can seem like a foreign place to those who are unfamiliar with them. The lawyers and judges speak in acronyms, rather than sentences, and things move at lightning speed. Therefore, knowing the language of the criminal courts is essential when you are being charged with a crime. Below is a list of the terms that people frequently ask me to explain, and their meaning: