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A lot has been reported in the media and debated since Aaron Hernandez – by all present appearances – committed suicide this past Wednesday.  Most of the debate has surrounded the public’s confusion over this business that Hernandez’ suicide means that he was “not guilty” over the murder of Odin Lloyd (which of course, he was convicted of in April 2015.)

So, what’s this all about?  A very old and little-used Massachusetts law, that’s what.  Its formal name is“abatement ab initio,” and it loosely translates to “removed from the beginning.”  It is a common law which has its roots in British law, when Massachusetts was still a British colony. The legal rationale behind this law was that, since it was possible that someone’s conviction might have been  legally defective in some manner, that person should have the right of a full appeal – and that if some intervening event prevented that appeal (such as the convict’s death,) then the person’s name should be legally “cleared.”   Massachusetts is only one of a handful of states in the U.S. that either still have this common law on the books, or that still recognize it as valid.  Many states have either modified it in some manner, or nullified its applicability to present cases.  In all of the states that have nullified this doctrine, it’s been done so in the name of the rights of crime victims.  It’s not hard to see why. Continue reading

Well, as of midnight tonight, marijuana is finally legalized in Massachusetts.  Despite the dire predictions of tone-deaf politicians and law enforcement officials, despite the moral protestations of religious leaders including the Catholic church, the voters of Massachusetts saw through the smoke and mirrors (pardon the pun,) and approved what so many other states have already done:  Made possession of limited amounts of cannabis legal. Voters here had already decriminalized marijuana in 2008, and approved medical marijuana in 2012.  Reflecting the cluelessness of many of Beacon Hill, all three measures had to be approved by citizen ballot measures, as the legislature consistently refused to act. In a growing trend of sanity on this issue, Massachusetts voters joined voters in Maine, California, and Nevada on Nov. 8.  Colorado, Oregon, Washington State, Alaska, and the District of Columbia also voted to legalize marijuana in recent years. Continue reading

Anyone familiar me or with this blog knows that I am a fierce defender of anyone who has been charged with a Massachusetts rape offense, or any Massachusetts sex offense.  No, not because I don’t find rape or any sex offense to be repugnant – I very much do.  Rather, it’s because that sex offenses, as a criminal law category, is one in which there is often more gray than there is black and white:  Believe me, as a Massachusetts rape defense attorney, I can assure you:  Just because someone accuses another person of  “rape”, does NOT mean that the accused is legally guilty of that crime.  If I were to tell you every case story I have represented, you would come to understand that the number of cases that re “black and white” are relatively small, compared with the number that fall into a very “gray” category. Continue reading

Well, well – here we are:  Black Friday, that ignominious day in the American calendar when otherwise (and I use this term liberally) “normal” people, turn into openly aggressive, violent, even maniacal individuals – all in the name of scoring a few less dollars on the latest wide screen TV or pair of sneakers.  To quote an aphorism that has become quite true, “Because only in America, do people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.” How bad is this problem?  In just the past eight years, from 2006 to 2014, the total death count involving Black Friday shopping incidents has reached seven deaths.    Visually, try to think of being in a cemetery and seeing seven gravestones, each reading “Killed in a store by other shoppers the day after Thanksgiving.”   Two of those deaths were the result of people actually being “trampled” by aggressive shoppers. Two more were shooting deaths, and the remaining fatalities were due car crashes that were directly related to Black Friday shopping. Continue reading

More and more these days, I get calls from people who want me to assist them in obtaining a Massachusetts firearms license (gun permit,) or to represent them in an appeal of a permit denial they have received.  Importantly, these aren’t people who have been accused of committing any crimes – they’re law-abiding citizens who want to legally carry a gun.  Even more striking, the vast majority of these people have never carried any kind of firearm before.

Some who are reading this post this might think these people are suspicious types – ne’er do wells, uneducated people, or hunters.  As a Massachusetts gun license lawyer, I can assure anyone:  They’re not.  In fact, the vast majority of them are educated, working people who never before though that they’d ever want to own a gun – but now they want to.  What drives them to want this?  Continue reading

In my previous post on this topic, I wrote about how prosecutors in Massachusetts must prove that any allegedly illegal substances that the Commonwealth accuses a defendant of possessing, using, or distributing, have actually been tested by a qualified chemist in the state drug lab, and that the substance is indeed either a controlled substance or an illegal drug.   That’s the first, threshold legal issue in any Massachusetts drug offenses prosecution.  Continue reading

When what you do in your profession involves defending as legal counsel people who have been charged with some very serious crimes, a common question is “How can you defend people who have been accused of such serious crimes?”  My answer, as a Wrentham  Mass. criminal defense attorney, is always the same:  “Because they may be legally innocent.”

Drug crimes are an area that many people misunderstand – or perhaps more accurately, mis-context.  They often assume that anyone charged with a Massachusetts drug offense must be some kind of drug-crazed criminal, or the local version of something like a ‘drug lord.’  Hardly.  In fact, the truth is almost anything but this. Some examples?   Being found by police to be carrying a controlled substance without a prescription on your person.  This could happen while traveling through Logan Airport, or even if stopped in your car by police.   Or providing any of your prescription pain medication to another person because they were in pain and couldn’t locate or get an appointment with their own doctor right away.  Or selling or buying more than an ounce of marijuana to another (yes, pot.)  Or a student who gives some of his or her Ritalin prescription to a friend in advance of exams.  The list goes on and on.  As a Massachusetts drug charges lawyer, I can say with certainty that 85%-90% of my Massachusetts drug charges clients are definitely not dangerous drug criminals. Continue reading

The Massachusetts SJC just issued a very controversial ruling in reviewing a criminal case that, as a Boston criminal defense lawyer, most people would expect me to agree with wholeheartedly.  I don’t.  My views aren’t going to win me much agreement with my colleagues in the criminal defense bar, but I just can’t support this finding.

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In my previous post on this subject, I wrote about how bad the incidence of texting and driving has become– as well as cell phone use when driving – in Massachusetts and New England.  Here I’ll discuss what’s being done in other states, and what might be done here to more aggressively tackle this change-resistant problem.

Presently, forty-six states in the U.S. have enacted laws against texting while driving.  Almost all of those states also prohibit sending or reading email, or otherwise using the phone.   Unfortunately, in Florida, texting is a secondary offense, which means that even if a police officer sees a driver texting, the officer can’t stop that driver unless another violation is observed, such as speeding. Continue reading

So many times when driving around, I ask myself, ”What is wrong with people these days?  Are they just plain stupid, homicidal or suicidal?”  I’m referring, of course, to the widespread and outrageously growing habit of texting while driving.

On a clinical level of mental health, I wonder what new, modern mental illness will soon be named to describe people who do this.  “Subconsciously suicidal ideation?”  “Pre-homicidal aggression?”  Or how about calling a spade a spade, and just calling it for what it is:  Idiotic.  Truly, as a Boston car accident lawyer, I have seen an alarming spike in the number of serious Massachusetts motor vehicle accident injuries that have been cause by people texting and driving – or talking on their cell phones while driving. It’s almost unfathomable that drivers would risk their own lives, their families’ lives, and the lives of others, to read a ridiculous text message, or answer a phone call. Continue reading