Recent Blog Posts

Marijuana odor is not a basis for a motor vehicle stop

Evidence found during a traffic stop should have been suppressed because the mere odor of burnt marijuana did not justify the stop, the Supreme Judicial Court has ruled in a split decision. “Because stops based on reasonable suspicion of a possible civil marijuana infraction do not promote highway safety and run contrary to the purposes… Read More »

New law requiring headlights to be turned on

A new law requiring headlights and taillights to be kept on during inclement weather and when windshield wipers are on goes into effect for all Massachusetts motorists April 7, 2015. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation said the law is intended to increase safety and visibility of vehicles on the road. The law requires a vehicle’s… Read More »

Search of a Van is invalid despite observing marijuana

A van pulled over because of an unilluminated headlight could not be entered and searched by the police based on marijuana the officers saw inside the van, the Supreme Judicial Court has ruled. After an officer saw “about a [one]-ounce bag” of marijuana protruding from under a rumpled T-shirt lying on the floor between the… Read More »

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Judge seeks to reform drug cases

The  new Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judical Court recently spoke on the “state of the judiciary”.  One of his most important goals for the future is to call for the end to mandatory minimum sentences for low level drug offenders.  He said that mandatory minimum sentences interfere with judges’ discrection, disproportionately affects minorities… Read More »

Expunging or sealing your record

The Supreme Judicial Court in the case of Commonwealth v. Alves, decided on August 27, 2014 dealt with the issue of expunging or sealing a criminal record.  The single question before the court was whether the proper remedy for a clerical error that results in the issuance of a criminal complaint against a person who… Read More »

Mass Supreme Judicial Court eases standard for sealing of criminal record

  By: Tom Egan August 15, 2014   The Supreme Judicial Court has decided to make it easier to get a criminal record sealed. In 2010, the Legislature enacted extensive reforms to the criminal offender record information (CORI) scheme, extending access to official CORI records to more employers, housing providers and other organizations, for limited use, while… Read More »

Small Business Owners: Estate Planning

Going on a trip?  Do you have a plan?  Someone to watch the house; take care of pets, etc.?  Of course. So what is your plan for your small business when you are no longer able to operate it? Who will be left to pick up the pieces?  Will they have the necessary skills, time… Read More »

Why Innocent People Plead Guilty

Why innocent people plead guilty Federal judge says thousands are in prison after taking deals by Gilien Silsby April 18, 2014After serving as a criminal defense attorney, federal prosecutor and now United States District judge, the Hon. Jed Rakoff knows what works — and what doesn’t — in the criminal justice system. Rakoff, who sits on… Read More »

A Misdemeanor Conviction Is Not a Big Deal, Right? Think Again

Only about 10% of all federal convictions in 2010 were misdemeanors, but research shows the majority of people who find themselves in state criminal courts are facing charges for minor crimes like possession of marijuana or driving with a suspended license. Misdemeanor convictions, in fact, don’t always result in jail time. And yet, misdemeanor convictions can trigger… Read More »

Eyewitness testimony is no longer a gold standard

The American legal system offers few moments as dramatic as an eyewitness to a crime pointing his finger across a crowded courtroom at a defendant.  The problem is that decades of studies show eyewitness testimony is right only about half the time — a reality that has prompted a small vanguard of police chiefs, courts… Read More »