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Commonwealth v. Walczak, 463 Mass. 808 (2012)

Commonwealth v. Walczak, 463 Mass. 808 (2012)

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A grand jury indicted the defendant, a juvenile at the time of the offense, for second-degree murder on two separate occasions. The Superior Court judge dismissed the indictment on both occasions: first, because the prosecutor’s failure to disclose exculpatory evidence impaired the grand jury proceeding, and second, for lack of sufficient evidence. The Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) granted the Commonwealth’s application for direct appellate review of the second dismissal. The SJC held that the evidence was sufficient to support the indictment, but a four-justice majority upheld the dismissal on the alternative ground that the grand jury should have been instructed on the elements of murder and the significance of mitigating circumstances in juvenile cases.
A grand jury indicted the defendant, a juvenile at the time of the offense, for second-degree murder on two separate occasions. The Superior Court judge dismissed the indictment on both occasions: first, because the prosecutor’s failure to disclose exculpatory evidence impaired the grand jury proceeding, and second, for lack of sufficient evidence. The Supreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) granted the Commonwealth’s application for direct appellate review of the second dismissal. The SJC held that the evidence was sufficient to support the indictment, but a four-justice majority upheld the dismissal on the alternative ground that the grand jury should have been instructed on the elements of murder and the significance of mitigating circumstances in juvenile cases.

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: New England Law Review on Apr 22, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/21/2013

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Commonwealth v. Walczak,463 Mass. 808 (2012)
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ONTRIBUTING
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I. Procedural History
A grand jury indicted the defendant, a juvenile at the time of theoffense, for second-degree murder on two separate occasions.
1
TheSuperior Court judge dismissed the indictment on both occasions: first, because the prosecutor’s failure to disclose exculpatory evidence impairedthe grand jury proceeding,
2
and second, for lack of sufficient evidence. TheSupreme Judicial Court (“SJC”) granted the Commonwealth’s applicationfor direct appellate review of the second dismissal. The SJC held that theevidence was sufficient to support the indictment, but a four-justicemajority upheld the dismissal on the alternative ground that the grand juryshould have been instructed on the elements of murder and thesignificance of mitigating circumstances in juvenile cases.
II. Facts
The grand jury heard evidence that the defendant, who was sixteen atthe time of the offense, stabbed the victim in the midst of a scuffle that began when the victim tried to rob the defendant. At the indictment stage,the grand jury was not given instructions on the elements of murder andthe significance of mitigating circumstances and defenses.
III. Issue Presented
Whether prosecutors should instruct grand juries on the elements ofmurder and the significance of mitigating circumstances and defenseswhen the prospective defendant is a juvenile.
1
Commonwealth v. Walczak, 463 Mass. 808, 810 (2012) (Lenk, J., concurring).
2
Id. at 810-811.

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