Tuesday, August 17, 2004

SJC Orders New Confession Jury Instruction 

Boston.com reports that yesterday the Massachusetts SJC ruled that if the defense requests, the judge must instruct the jury:

...that the high court wants statements to be recorded ''whenever practicable" and that the absence of recordings is evidence to be weighed ''with great care and caution."

The 4-3 decision was authored by Justice Martha B. Sossman, joined by Chief Justice Margaret Marshall and Justices Roderick Ireland and Robert Cordy. The strong dissent was written by Justice John Greaney, joined by Justices Francis Spina and Judith Cowin. The new rule has received varing response in the law enforcement and legal community, with some decrying it as "too intrusive" and likely to lead to an inability to convict anyone, while others feel that the resulting encouragement to record all confessions will lead to a rise in convictions.

The case is Commonwealth v. Valerio DiGiambattista, SJC-09155.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 11:35 AM