Mass. SJC Reverses Drunk Driving Conviction

The SJC this week, in Commonwealth v. Parenteau, considered whether a District Court judge erred by admitting in evidence, pursuant to G.L. c. 90, § 22 (d), a certificate from the registry of motor vehicles (registry) attesting to the fact that a notice of license suspension or revocation was mailed to the defendant, Peter L. Parenteau, on May 2, 2007.

The Commonwealth did not present any testimony from a witness on behalf of the registry.

The SJC concluded that the admission of the certificate violated the defendant’s rights of confrontation and cross-examination under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and that such admission was not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. The SJC thus reversed the defendant’s conviction of operating a motor vehicle after his license had been revoked for operating while under the influence of intoxicating liquor and remanded the case for further proceedings.

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