Debrief: Cooperative Coverage Day

A man charged with selling drugs inside the courthouse. A woman said to have shoplifted $5 worth of barbeque chicken wings. A man charged with multiple counts of raping a child with force. A longtime Drug Court participant booted from the program for taking a non-narcotic pill (still against the rules). Everyone brought back to court owing fees or victim restitution in previously dismissed cases. A man on psychotropic medication charged with shoplifting a Stop and Shop cart full of meat and pulling a knife when confronted in the parking lot. A naked hiker in the Blue Hills whose defense to lewd behavior is being raised as a naturist. OUIs. Restraining order hearings. A wife sectioning her husband for alcoholism.

OpenCourt has been streaming public court hearings from the First Session courtroom in Quincy since May of 2011. We’ve received feedback about how our viewers use and value the footage, and we we realize it would be useful to show more of the court’s daily business — not just the cross-section that comes through the First Session.

While holding to our goal to carve a plausible model for other courthouses, we’ve often asked ourselves how we and other journalists around the country could do a better job shedding light on a bigger portion of the iceberg’s tip, and not necessarily using as much expensive technology.

In other words, just how much business does all of Quincy District Court do in a single day? How can we more fully capture the breadth of cases heard, day in and day out?

Cooperative Coverage

To help answer these questions, last month we hosted a cooperative coverage event at the court, an open invitation to citizen and traditional journalists alike to help us gather notes about everything that transpires in the building’s six public courtrooms.

Our combined notes, below — gathered between myself, Val, two Patriot Ledger reporters, two Harvard Berkman interns, one State House News reporter, and three citizen journalists — are inevitably incomplete. But we hope this coming together shows more fully the wide array of hearings before the court, the sheer volume of cases, and the fact that this is all happening every day, outside of normal public view.

We realized it’s easier than you might think for loosely affiliated citizens to collaborate on a one-off project (read: Twitter + Google Docs).

There were unsurprisingly a wide variety of cases. Some rough tallies: Assault & Battery (15, of which 3 were labeled as domestic violence), disorderly conduct (4), trespassing (3), resisting arrest (1), uninsured and/or unlicensed motor vehicle operation (5), speeding (3), shoplifting (5), larceny over $250 (1), receiving stolen property (2), distribution of an illegal substance (3), section 35 (1), sealed record request (3), interpreter needed (1).

This day was exceptional not by any standard of caseload or substance, only that more of us were there to see it and relay stories. For me and Val, the longer we’re in court streaming, the clearer it is that we’re sitting on a relatively unchecked sociological goldmine.

Opening Court Data

These notes from last month’s experiment are, at the least, a compelling glance at the river of data flowing through our local courts every single day.

At best they offer a new angle on approaching larger questions: how do we get to a place where public court data is more accessible? Why aren’t the stats being tracked more extensively and automatically in the name of scientifically diagnosing societal ills?

The Boston Globe recently published an extensive three-part series on Massachusetts OUI prosecutions, which undoubtedly required massive reporting energy. While that energy will always be required for strong narrative journalism, shouldn’t reporters and the public at large alike have easier access to court proceedings to begin with? Wouldn’t the State be better off if tracking the operation of its courts didn’t require the Herculean effort of a crack, paid investigative team?

Thanks again to everyone who helped make this possible. Our aim at this point, as always, is to provide a window into the everyday landscape of our legal system. Beyond that, we hope efforts like this lead to smarter methods to inform and awaken the public: to be a better radar for a community’s prevalent crimes.

What do you think? What do you see? What should we do differently if we host another event like this?

Cooperative Coverage Notes: December 5, 2011

First Session – Judge Mark Coven

  1. 10:21 – Man charged with Assault and Battery and threats to commit a crime on Dec. 3
  2. 10:22: Trespassing and disorderly. Dismissed on $250 in court costs, $100 court costs.
  3. 10:23: Resisting arrest, disorderly conduct. DA will take look at it to see if can resolve today. Def will waive right to lawyer.
  4. 10:25 Disorderly conduct (2 defendants). No lawyer appointed because no possibility of jail time. Can resolve today. Defs will waive right to lawyer and talk to DA. 2nd call
  5. 10:28: Registration suspension, operating uninsured vehicle. No accident. Will talk to DA. 2nd call
  6. 10:29: On a warrant. 6/5. Numbered plate violation, concealing, other charges… Will talk to DA.
  7. 10:31: Domestic A&B. Does not qualify for court-appointed lawyer. Will hire a lawyer. Will wait for domestic DA. 2nd call.
  8. 10:32: Owes $500. Posted $250 bail in Holbrooke. Has $100 today. She says will have remaining $150 by next week. Put over until 12/19.
  9. 10:34: Domestic A&B. Doesn’t qualify for lawyer. 2nd call
  10. 10:35: Defaulted because she was in Plymouth Highpoint program. Now in Adcare program. Next date 2/16.
  11. 10:37: Custody. Probationer. Thought he cut his bracelet (but he didn’t). Didn’t answer his phone. Officers came to house and held overnight. Released and asked to meet w/ P.O.
  12. 10:38: Custody. Larceny over $250 from Wal-mart.10:40: Receiving stolen motor vehicle.  Ordered to stay away from the victim until further hearing. Needs to perform community service to pay for court costs and will reappear Feb. 17.
  13. 10;44 Wife is applying for possibly Section 35 for husband, who has a drinking problem. He’s not in court, he wouldn’t come in by himself. Issued warrant of apprehension.
  14. 10:46: #6 is back. Count 2: $50. Count 3: $300. Not responsible on civil infraction. Numbered plate (2), driving uninsured (3)
  15. 10:47 Custody. Fugitive from justice on court warrant from Maine. Receiving stolen property. DA makes a bail argument. Comm. vs Upton – only applies to light felonies. No new charges in Mass. At McDonald’s, ran her license, found fugitive. Def lawyer bail argument: 3 children who live w/ her parents in milton. Radiology degree. 3 contacts with law. No warrants in Mass. Open cases. Probation says she has a straight warrant out of Plymouth. Shouldn’t be held on bail. Bail $6,800 cash. Waiving rendition today. 2nd call
  16. 10:53: #4 are back. Will plead guilty. Boilerplate: waiving right to lawyer, trial, presumption of innocence. Voluntary? Under threat? Under influence? Immigration warning. Asked age and how far he’s gone in school. do you understand everything? Still wish to plead guilty? Yes. Police report: DA: Fight in progress. Group of people arguing. Group wouldn’t leave when asked. Def. continued to fight, was handcuffed. Def #2 screamed at police, to let his friend go. Sentencing: Guilty file for 6 mo. + $50 victim witness fee
  17. 10:58: #5 is back. $50 (count 1) $200 (count 2). Has until Jan 9 to pay
  18. 11:00: Def gets lawyer assigned
  19. 11:01: Domestic A&B. Private lawyer? 2nd call
  20. 11:02: A&B with dangerous weapon. Non-domestic. Stay away from Clash of the Ash bar in Quincy. Young woman.
  21. 11:09: Dist Class B, conspiracy to violate drug laws. Will hire private lawyer.
  22. 11:10: Unlicensed operation of MV, failing to stop at intersection. Looking for portuguese interpreter. 2nd call (comes after #24). Will meet with DA to resolve case. Unclear about it. Asks judge to repeat.
  23. 11:11: Custody. Possession to distribute Class D. Disorderly. disruption court proceedings. Allegedly tried to sell drugs in the courtroom. Went outside and causes ruckus in hallway. Allegedly attempted to swallow drugs.
  24. 11:16: Default, didn’t come in. French speaker.
  25. 11:19: #23: $100 on count 1, not respon on count 2
  26. 11:21: Request for record being sealed. Having trouble getting job. Boston Financial. She had job and they ccalled her in and retracted .
  27. 11:22: Request for recrod to be sealed. Can’t find job. In HR for 20 years. Someone told me off the recrod (a friend) but not on the recrod.
  28. 11:24: Request for record being sealed. Career change, class said they he would have trouble getting job. Class B driver’s license.
  29. 11:26: Shoplifting, 3rd offense. Bail argument DA: wal-mart, officer chasing boot on one foot, sandal on other foot through woods. asked cashier for bags. Filled bags with items and walked out. Ran. Working w/ 2 other woman. $606.10. 32 page record. 84 contacts w/ police. 305 guilties. 18 mos committed in 2008. 36 guilties for larceny over $250. Guilty for escape in 2008. asking $3K bail. BAIL DEF: Northeastern U graduate in accounting. Says she bleeding, 8.5 months pregnant. On probation in 5 courts. 2nd call. Bail on new case: $3K. Final surrender hearing for probation, held w/ o bail.
  30. 11:37: Maine fugitive back up. Judge says that the defendant will be transported to Maine, bail is set at $6800 and is set to return to court on Dec. 29.
  31. 11:46 – A Weymouth man charged with liscence suspension and speeding, he claims that he was not the guilty party and that someone “used my name”. Weymouth man is ordered to have a seat until an attorney is appointed.
  32. 11:48 – Woman with two old cases owes some money to the court, she claims to have the money and is prepared to pay today. She is sent downstairs to pay the defaults.
  33. 11:49 – A man in a wheelchair is claimed to have defaulted on a prior appearance. He had been held on a bail, on charges in June and missed a court date in August. He is scheduled to be back in court on Feb. 12.
  34. 11:52 – Man owes $510 to the court, says he has the money and prepared to pay in full.
  35. 11:54: Domestic DA. Dangerousness hearing – officers here, just waiting for police tape. Hearing at 2 pm. Case moved to Feb. 10.
  36. 11:55: Domestic A&B case. Next date: 2/10
  37. 11:58: Custody. Portuguese speaking provided translator. Motor vehicle violations. OUI charges. Right to operate suspended. A Portugese-speaking man, provided a translator, is being held on moving violations and OUI charges, his right to operate a vehichle is supsended. He pleads guilty to amended charges, will lose right to operate for at least two year.
  38. 12:11: Custody. Domestic A&B. BAIL DA: Locked victim outside bc she wouldn’t pick him up bc there will children at home. Fire Department opened door. $1K cash BAIL DEF: Were at fundraiser together. She wouldn’t pick up, he walked to friend’s house, borrowed car. He threw phone out to her. Judge releases on personal recognizance.
  39. LIVESTREAM OFF FOR RESTRAINING ORDER – Husband saw her walking w/ a friend, became enraged, she stayed at a friend’s house. He pushed her and hit her on the head. Is not asking for him to stay away from 3 kids. He will not testify. Wants RO for 3 months. Missing keys to car, computer. He will still coach son’s hockey.
  40. 12:26: Domestic A&B. Pretrial: 2/24
  41. 12:29 – Weymouth man charged with Class A substance possession in June. He made bail in Stoughton on similar charge this morning and has been in correction house, prison, since Sept. Judge sets bail at $200.
  42. 12:30: Custody. Warrant has been out on him since June. In possession of large bag of heroin. Willing to go get treatment for addiction.
  43. 12:37: Drug Court participant didn’t report to court until this morning. Final surrender hearing. She took a pill, that was not a narcotic, which is against the rules. The woman was in the sober house longer than normal because it was difficult to find work. The woman requested drug court for a shoplifting charge, but the case is recommended to be dismissed.  Probation (Jo) says woman was discharged from Edwina Martin in Sept, didn’t report to court until this morning. Very involved, has been calling Jo, has been going to meetings, has been afraid of coming in to court. Find her in violation and dismisses case. She won’t come back to Drug Court.
  44. 12:43. Man charged with OUI, leaving the scene of an accident and other motor vehicle charges.
  45. 12:49: Marijuana, poss w/ intent to sell
  46. 12:55: Domestic A&B.
  47. 12:57: In custody. Man charged with raping a child w/ force, 2 counts. Indecent A&B child under 14 several count. March 2002. Motion to turn camera off — denied. DA asks for $25K bail. GPS monitoring. Stay away from alleged victim and all children. Surrender passport. Friday: QPD report: rape happened 9 years ago, when she lived near def’s children in Hull. March 2002 visited him in quincy. Spent night in def’s daughter’s bedroom. Early morning hours. def placing hand over mouth and nose. Def. Climbed into bed. Smelled of diesel fuel. Big glasses. Ran hand over her body, forced hand into underwwear, put finger into vagina, She bit him. Def’s daughter didn’t wake up. Vaginally raped until ejaculated. He stifled cries. Pulled hand away from face. Hyperventilating. Whipsered. don’t tell anyone. this is what adults do when they’re in love. kiss her on neck. Parents picked her up. Told best friend who is def’s niece. Niece’s mother said to stop telling lies about her family. He was arrested for sexually assaulting other children recently, so she came forward. 6th young woman to come forward for rape of a child. As young as 6 yo. Has hosted foreign exchange students. BAIL DEF: Plumber who works w/ son. Case 2 weeks ago – GPS. (Here?) BAIl: $5K cash, same pretrial conditions. Out of range 2x. Coven will revoke bail and hold w/o bail if that happens again. Next case: 1/19
  48. 1:17: Mistaken identity
  49. 2:50 p.m. — 1.5k bail set for sex offense, drinks with friend of 10 years, sexual assault, phone battery stolen to prevent calling the police. Friend says wont testify against defendant.
  50. 2:58 p.m. — offline for a restraining order hearing. guy threatened his kids. $350 cash bail set at $350. #assault.
  51. 3:04 p.m. — Man requests that camera STAY ON. Camera shut off due to SJC directive against recording restraining order hearings.
  52. 3:25 p.m. — $10,000 cash bail revoke bail on another. tried to sell drugs in court. propositioned court official. swallowing plastic bag. believed to be marijuana. crowd gathered outside courtrooms. 20 contacts with the court. two violations of probation. defense argues could have been gum in his mouth. was bailed on $100 in that arrest. $5,000 bail set.
  53. 3:35 p.m. — #section 35. wife petitioning for restraining order. man becomes suicidal when drinking. ‘he has never physically harmed me.’ but ‘i am in fear at the moment.’ defense: voluntarily partaking in MATC program. granted restraining order for a year. no contact except by telephone. not to be within 100 yards.
  54. 3:40 p.m. — Charged with breaking and entering (#b&e). Appointed attorney to represent during bail hearing. Attorney and defendant step out into hall to discuss the matter. assault and battery (#a&b) with a dangerous weapon. shoplifting. charged with malicious in boston district court on dec 9. this is new offense to that open offense. danger to community. filled cart with meat from a store and left. they approached him in the parking lot. threatened them with a knife. 8-inch blade. and 7-inch blade. ranted about taking food because hungry. wanted ‘that sweat white meat.’ 27 prior contacts. 18 guilties. 12 prior defaults. ADA asks $25k cash bail. defense: mental health problems. mr. smith 52 years old, graduated tech school. collects SSDI. on psychotropic medication. truly indigent. pray the court release him. judge says would like to get him help. but won’t happen today. if it protects him it protects society. he’ll be returned to roxbury. $1,000 cash on this case. stayaway from stop and shop. december 23 date.
  55. 3:52  — larceny over. opiates oxycodone and heroin. MATC bed available.
  56. 3:53 — vandalizing property. $5,000 cash bail asked for. randolph police report: breaking and entering. victim said rang
  57. doorbell, loud bangs at back door. stay away from the victim. no contact whatsoever. he was held on DYS detainer. brockton.
  58. 4:00 — mr. ortiz. released possession with intent to distribute class a (heroin).
  59. 4:02 — surrender date. picked her up on warrants from breaking and enterings.
  60. 4:07 — judge overrules motion to shut off the camera. note the ADA’s objection.victim testimony: 25 year relationship. violence within the relationship. found another lady. don’t do it when the kids are around. Ages of children: 24, 23, 7, and 2. don’t do that in front of the kids. he swears a lot. mf-er, fu – kinds of things he’ll say. he pushed me, i fell and he kicked me. daughter called the cops when he was choking her when he was drunk and she came home late. older daughter was there. 14 at the time. the day it happened he was arrested. he was getting a restraining order, she didn’t realize i had to go to court. son passsed away because of that? (huh?) says he doesn’t remember anything the next day. i don’t even thinks he gets that drunk anymore it’s just a game so he can say whatever he wants. had a big fight he was choking her on the ground after she said ‘you have to leave.’ the kids where there. older daughter yelling for her to get out get out. said he was going to kill me and kill the kids. kept punching the doors. he was drinking the night before. she went to the hospital.cross-exam: brings up that this could be solved if he didn’t live at home. asks whether she drinks.police testimony: blotchy neck upon arrival. crying. wants this to stop. daughter was upset. ambulance took her to hospital. at hospital, he called the on-call judge who called him back at the hospital. restraining order was issued.cross to police: was he doing anything when you arrived? police say he said ‘can you tell her to stop doing what she’s doing?’ he was agitated. he didn’t know details of domestic. he observed things thrown out into the driveway. ‘can you tell her to stop throwing stuff out the house.’ no alcohol on his breath or anything. agitated that he was thrown out. when you spoke to her.. spoke for 10 mins. after i went back in, i wanted to get the facts from her. when i went back in at de-escalated. he didn’t observe them the first time around. only saw the blotches the second time not the first time.
    closing by ada: only way to safety is to
    closing by defense: operates gas tanker truck.Ruling: declared dangerous and held without bail. january 6 hearing.

Third Session – Judge Heather Bradley

  1. 9:10 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. – Judge Bradley went through a list of defendants with matters before the court and applicants for harassment/209A protection orders. Of the three dozen she named, about 10 hadn’t arrived in court on time and were assessed $50 default fees. Lawyers in each of the matters identified themselves and many cases were quickly scheduled for trials in February.
  2. 9:50 a.m. – Judge Bradley denied a motion by one defendant to waive her $50 default fee, claiming she arrived just moments after her name was called. “It’s more important that you step into court when court starts so that you’re not defaulting,” Bradley said. “Even if you don’t see your attorney, you have to be in court.”
  3. 10:12 a.m. – Judge Bradley hears arguments from ADA on a matter in which a defendant was nabbed by what police said was an illicit drug transaction in a parking lot. Defendant’s lawyer said she had been forthcoming with police and had a minimal prior record, in addition she works 40 hours a week and is pregnant. Bradley continued the case without a finding, ordering that the defendant submit to random drug screenings for a year. “After you give birth and certainly while you are pregnant, it’s in your best interest and your child that you remain drug-free,” Bradley said.
  4. 10:23 a.m. – Judge Bradley heard arguments in a case in which Quincy police pulled over a motorist in a GMC Sierra who turned out to be unregistered and uninsured. In addition, he was driving with a suspended license. His record included a drug conviction in district court and two prior “operating after suspensions.” Although prosecutors and the defense attorney recommended continuing the case, Bradley rejected the deal. “He’s got a prior dismissal on an OAS. And he’s got a continuance without a finding on an OAS. Once you get that continuance without a finding, it’s not something you should be getting again,” she said. “This is an offense, sir, that you can go to jail for.” Bradley recommended a guilty verdict with a $500 fine on one of the counts and a guilty verdict on driving while unregistered. The defendant rejected Bradley’s recommendation and a trial was scheduled for March.
  5. 10:40 a.m. – Bradley heard arguments in a case in which a defendant, while driving, sideswiped a car’s mirror and fled the scene. The ADA said the victim is not requesting any restitution because the damage was covered by an insurance company. The defense attorney described his client as a 25-year-old lobsterman who didn’t even realize he had made contact with the other car. Bradley continued the case without a finding, requiring the defendant to take a driving course.
  6. 11:30 a.m. – Bradley next heard a case with a male and female defendant in which police searched the female defendant’s car and discovered hypodermic needles belonging to the male. The female defendant’s attorney described her as a clean 22-year-old who was forthcoming with police and agreed to go to AA/NA meetings twice a week. Bradley stipulated that the female defendant abstain from drugs and alcohol and submit to random testing
  7. 11:45 a.m. – A defendant seeking a harassment prevention order against an ex-girlfriend, describing repeated phone calls and texts every day, including three while he was sitting in the courtroom. He said she would stop by parents’ house. Bradley issued a temporary order prohibiting the ex-girlfriend from coming within 100 yards of the applicant or from visiting his residence. She will have a chance to oppose the order on Dec. 14.
  8. 12: 11 p.m. – Bradley heard arguments in a matter in which a defendant was accused of violating his probation by assaulting a girlfriend in October, his third assault charge this year. According to the ADA, the defendant, 21, had consumed alcohol and punched his girlfriend in the eye. In May, he had been arrested for pulling her hair while driving and causing a car accident. In September, his brother called the police, claiming that the defendant had punched him in the fact. While incarcerated for the earlier incidents, the defendant was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and has been taking medications.Although the Probation Department recommended a continuance, Bradley rejected the offer. “This type of escalation of behavior has to have consequences. I appreciate that probation is recommending the continuance. You’re not entitled to a continuance without a finding. It’s a gift. Probation is a gift.” Bradley recommended a guilty finding with a year suspended sentence. She also ordered the defendant to wear a GPS bracelet and abstain from alcohol, submit to random alcohol testing and participate in a batterers program. She also said that he needed to immediately enter mental health treatment, find a counselor and maintain his treatment regimen. “What I want to see is continuity,” she said. “As long as you do all that and you don’t get charged with anything else, at the end of the year this gets terminated.”break // afternoon session
  9. 2-party hearing for an abuse prevention order. Ms Yang: asking the court to issue the orders for as long as possible against Francis Yu. Mr Yu opposes extension of harassment prevention order. Therefore the judge says that the court needs a full hearing. Judge asks bailiff to get records. Ms Yang is married to Francis Yu. She seeks abuse prevention order against husband Francis Yu because she claims husband physically abused her during altercation while young son was present on September 2, 2011.She reports 5 or 6 incidents of physical abuse in addition to the September incident. She summarized
    these for the judge. (Fumbles through plastic expanding file folder for snapshots of results of abuse).2:55: Her doctor urged her to report incident to police back in 2000 she sought medical treatment after one of
    the incidents. She also reports prior threats. She reports an incident happening while they were living in San Francisco, where they had lived from 2004 to early 2011. On May 4, 2011, she said Francis kept her in her room (?), under pretense of asking for sex, when she needed to pick up her son. She was able to call the police who intervened.She said that she is afraid that Francis is threatening to leave her and their son. Judge reminds her that the abuse prevention order is issued when there is a threat of abuse and asks her if she understands that.3:05 Court recess for 5 minutes.3:15 Judge received copy of court of probation records. She scans the documents.Ms Yang now reports that she and her son feel very scared. (I overheard a friend? Lawyer? Advise her to
    make sure she told the judge that she felt afraid.)She said John Chung Ye Lu has come by the house several times. I think this is the stepbrother. On one
    night in particular, she and her son pretended to not be home. Frankly she tells winding stories that are quite difficult to follow given her poor command of English. Judge asks what the relationship is between husband and stepbrother.3:35 Hearing suspended while she gathers together lawyersNew case: Michael Connors (sp?) and ..?She is seeking and abuse prevention order. Judge reviews affidavit. Mr and Mrs Connors are married but separated.*** A police officer in the courtroom told me I could not take notes during a restraining order hearing.

Fourth Session

Minor Motor Vehicle Hearings in front of Clerk Magistrate Bob Bloom. All quotes are from Clerk.

  1. 9:15 Unsafe lane change. (lady with child called first) no responsibity
  2. 9:16 Truman & North, ran stop sign, taking roommate to hospital, not responsible
  3. 2 defendants not there
  4. 9:18 ran red light, half into intersection, no history, not responsible
  5. 9:19 red lights, blue lights in car, have been removed, defendant has pictures, not responsible
  6. 1 defendant not here
  7. 9:20 u turn, rushing didn’t see sign ” Clerk: “no signs on 128, can’t turn there either” not responsible this time
  8. 9:22 failed to yield to pedestrian, red light violation. Driver said pedestrian cleared crosswalk. Responsible for red light violation. Defendant confused. Found responsible for whole thing, will appeal
  9. 9:25 red light. Light turned yellow, could not stop safely. Well prepared defendant. “never see the officers, they’re disguised as trees” – clerk. I swear didn’t run the red light, Not responsible, “after all that”
  10. 9:30 60 in a 30, car axle broken, couldn’t be doing 60. Maybe doing 35, 40. Responsible. No appeal.
  11. 9:32 speeding, clocked by radar. Responsible 40 mph, $100, no appeal
  12. 9:35 48 in 30, radar, by radar, responsible for 40, $100, no appeal
  13. 9:37 marked lane violation, not carrying a license at time of violation. produces license, not responsible.
  14. 9:38 red light, not responsible.
  15. Defendant not here
  16. 9:40 red light, in intersection on green, slowed down for turning traffic, surprised by being pulled over “I’ve been surprised many times” not responsible.
  17. 9:42 texting while driving, “who were you messaging, the president?” Cop didn’t have paperwork, not responsible
  18. 9:43, u turn, dropping kid off at school, not responsible
  19. 9:44 red light, long history of tickets, not responsible
  20. 9:45 unregistered vehicle, produces registration, not responsible
  21. 9:47 failing to yield at accident scene, left arrow green, I did yield. Responsible. Not appealed.
  22. 9:51 not signaling turn, open container. Someone says I threw out a bottle. Not 1st time with a bottle. Clerk looks at history: “You throw everything out the window.” Responsible for signal, $25 fine. Defendant says he’ll appeal. Clerk change mind, decides he’s not responsible, Commonwealth appealing.

    Calling roll, sorting out who’s here, whose lawyer couldn’t show, where the police are.
  23. 10:07 driving with a suspended license, put in front of judge, if license reinstated will be dismissed
  24. 10:09 commercial vehicle, parking illegally. Defendant has no other transport, has to park there. Judge.
  25. 10:11 pool, no bottom, no fence or gate around pool. Filling pool. Confusion about filling pool as in water, or filling as in putting dirt back in the hole. Defendant says they’re filling the hole. Officer says they’re filling it in with debris, cited by building inspector for throwing tree into hole. Out to talk with officer.
  26. 10:14 registration produced by 9 am session person, not responsible.
  27. 10:15 vandalism, smashed car window with left hand. Long story that defies linear note taking about a party, a sister, and breaking a window an hour later of an uninvolved stranger. Already paid restitution. Judge.
  28. 10:22 failing to stop for officer, driving to endanger. Cop turned and motioned in way driver thought was meant to proceed says driver. Demonstrates. Well prepared defendant, talking about officer training for traffic details, wanting officers record. Clerk not interested. “Don’t need to go to MIT to learn how to direct traffic.” Dismissing driving to endanger. Responsible for failing to stop, civil not criminal.
  29. 10:33 operating without insurance, mass plates on car, proof of insurance from Illinois. Took plate from another car, daughter bring plates from Chicago. Judge.
  30. 10:38 filled pool back, adjourned for 30 days to resolve (fill the hole appropriately)
  31. 10:39 unregistered vehicle. Judge, will be dismissed if registered.
  32. Julianne Green (spelling?) (10:41 AM) Vehicle in collision registered to Julie Green– Green called and said she was the operator of the red Volvo.Green said she was frightened by Miranda (operator of the other car) as Miranda got out of the car, and drove away (thought Miranda could get her license plate as she drove away) and took her son to a soccer game. Didn’t call the police because she said her phone had died.Green: I didn’t rear-end her; front left of Green’s car hit the front right of Miranda’s car; Miranda swerved as Green tried to get off the exit; called the police after the gameJudge: Why would Miranda swerve and deliberately stop in front of you? (10:46 AM) “That’s what driving’s all about– people move, change their minds, that doesn’t mean they should get hit.”
  33. 10:52 vandalism, bat thrown through car windshield of car in woman’s driveway by woman. 2 previous restraining orders against ex-boyfriend driving car. Ex boyfriend believed email that said “come over and I’ll beat your ass” was a joke and an invitation. $8900 worth of damage. Ex-boyfriend says brother called him, told him to come over and work things out. Cross restraining orders. Ex-boyfriend arrested in June for breaking and entering for the purpose of harassment. Woman moved out of town to escape ex-boyfriend, who found her via obituary for her father. Hundreds of mails, stack 8-10 inches thick handed to clerk. Bat wielding woman in fear due to breaking and entering. Ex boyfriend says his account hijacked for purposes of sending email. Emails include pictures of ex boyfriend sending email. Dismissed. If women doesn’t pay what ex-boyfriend is out of pocket for the windshield (his insurance deductible), take her to small claims court.Same case, different notes:Crystal Flint (10:53 AM) – 10/17/11 – Report of vandalism; traveling up Williams and someone threw an object that damaged his windshield. When victim was asked who was it? He said it was the kid with pierced ears that lived across the street from Crystal. He also said he and Crystal used to date.Crystal said she warned him about staying away from her– two prior restraining orders against him (but had already expired)– said she broke the windshield.Crystal said she was scared and took matters in her own hands.Victim: $8900 worth of damages because windshield was shattered (2010 Mercedes); wanted to add assault to suit potentially because he was in the car. Got a call from Crystal’s brother asking him to be at the house at 9:30 PM (to work things out re: money Crystal’s mom owed him), I wasn’t expecting that I was uninvited.
  34. 11:20 charge not read, but mention of a “saloon’s worth” of alcohol in car. Electrical engineering student is defendant. Clerk notes a conviction would keep him from getting engineering license. Dismissed.
  35. 11:24 “another phd student. Wait til you hear this one” 17 yr old female. shoplifting of honey barbecued chicken wings worth $6. Are they good? Asks clerk. Yes says police officer. Is that expert testimony? “if you’re going to steal chicken wings for friends, at least make it enough wings to go around” $100 court costs, dismissed.
  36. 11:30 no charge read. “Bizarre behavior” “naturalist” naked in the Blue Hills. Raised as a “naturalist” nudist, was out on a Friday 4pm, cold and rainy day, didn’t expect to see anyone. Apologized to man who saw him. Put aside to for discussion.
  37. 11:35 private complaint. Assault and battery, two times. Husband accused by wife, divorce pending, husband got upset, hit and shook her June and Sept 15 again. Sham marriage says defense lawyer, working with immigration, trying to get this women out of his life. “They’re trying to get me deported” says wife. “You said that, not us” answers lawyer. Husband is battered man, suffers from battering syndrome says lawyer. “That’s his child, he must have found some tenderness along the way” He has restraining against her. Continued to allow divorce and other proceedings to take their course.
  38. 11:50 Back in the Blue Hills. Naturist, naturalist. Police officer points out that nudists are naturists, not naturalists. People hike in the Blue Hills. Even children. Open and gross lewdness. Wasn’t open and gross. Indecent exposure. Was trying to avoid people, not flashing. Discussion of defendant’s business, owns small business employing 10 people, high end clients. Defendant talking, saying this is a one time thing, never happen again. “People pay lawyers then they talk themselves” “Jails are full of one time thing.” open and lewd charge dismissed. What would defense suggest for court costs? $250 for speeding says lawyer, would accept that. $1000 in court costs says clerk. Dismissed. (Hard to hear that last give and take as anything other than “how much are you willing to pay to make this go away?”)

Jury Room A

  1. 9:14 – Four matters. Two matters stem from the same incident–summoned some civilians and officers (1407 and 2794). Trespass claim; civilian witness necessary can’t be here today. Second defendant in custody? No, he made bail. Defendant not in courtroom yet. Third defendant, Johnson, in custody. Fourth defendant, Gaggs (sp?). Commonwealth makes an excited utterance motion. Defendant not in courtroom yet. Fifth defendant, Lazaron (sp?). Sixth defendant, Hawk. Codefendant motions to suppress– papers haven’t made it over yet.
    Recess at 9:30 AM
  2. 10:12 Officer not available for hearing. Efforts to get into the apprentice program– request to not enter a default against him. Both matters to continue in February on motion to suppress.
  3. Joanne Coffee. February 28 as jury trial date.
  4. 10:19 – Adam Johnson. Witness summons went to wrong address (victim)
    Excited utterance motion– dispatch evidence (911 tape)–
    P: Learned who the dispatcher is…not certain if she’ll be able to in because she’s working today
    D: Wait for dispatcher to appear; ready for trial to begin today. Will hold it
  5. Nema Caramose. Trooper indicated he’ll be here (four witnesses total for the Commonwealth). Will hold.
  6. Shaun Lazaron. Two witnesses for Defense. One witness for Commonwealth. Will hold.
  7. Breanna Hannery- CW answers not ready. Charge for larceny. Commonwealth: Two civilians and one officer here; two officers on call.
  8. Charge for trespass. Commonwealth: Necessary witness on her way in.
  9. Charge for shoplifting. Commonwealth: Requires a civilian not yet here. This charge is dismissed for want of prosecution.
  10. 10:25 – Marcus Gaggs (sp?). Defendant appears pro se. Victim is here– asserting her marital privilege; she’s here with children. Mrs. Gaggs: Married as of 2009; married in TX; wishes to testify her marital privilege to not testify for the Commonwealth against her husband; CW won’t be able to prosecute her husband if she doesn’t testify. Commonwealth: Not ready for trial. Case is dismissed for want of prosecution based on assertion of marital privilege
    10:27 RecessJury Room B
  11. 9:24 AM: SunTrust Bank: Amend because of error in interest calculation
  12. Ann Fitzgerald: Vacate motion to dismiss; find a default
  13. American Express v. Dorothy Latham: Motion to assess damages– didn’t calculate attorney’s fees, so may deny the attorney’s fees
  14. 9:29 AM: Several motions to amend because left out Defendant’s middle initial. Faroul: Liability not disputed, just disputing the amount owed (maybe some fraud involved)– insurance for deceased spouse. 9:32 a.m.: Motion for judgment on the hearings– she doesn’t dispute liability, just amount (owe money on credit card); another hearing to prove how much D owes (keep in mind there are interest payments)– an assessment hearing
  15. David Roberts: P’s motion for judgment on the pleadings; D doesn’t dispute owing the money, just inability to pay right now.
  16. Timothy Farland: P’s motion to attach wages; judgment entered in March 2008; current balance is $3,335.82; allowed the trustee’s summons for the amount; successive service is denied.
  17. Credit union v. Patani (spelling?): Successive service denied.
  18. Jacklyn Reed: Motion to attach; trustee summons;
  19. 9:39 AM: Show cause hearing scheduled for 12/19. Already agreed to a payment plan– nothing will happen for a year.Recess
  20. 1:20ish p.m: Jury Trial – Intoxicated while carrying a licensed firearm:Jury selection (voir dire):No one knows either party or witnesses. One person worked for police department. No one admits bias. Some people would have difficulties with 2 day trial. Instructions to jury about innocent until proven guilty. Posessing gun while intoxicated. Opening statements: 3:00 witness 1, Holbrook police sergeant. Experience. Call your attention to 4 AM. Where we’re you? Dunkin Donuts. Why? They open at 4. Called to address, saw defendant coming from back, asked if had weapon, said he had license, asked again, reached for gun, told him to stop, removed gun. Glock Model 33, chambered 357 sig, short barreled semi automatic pistol. Smelled of alcohol. Asked if he drank, 3 drinks. Took back to Holbrook police station, still smelled alcohol from across table. Chain of custody of gun, sent to state forensic lab. Sgt has sealed box, notations described. Asks court permission to open box, describes notations inside the box. What is the big black object? A firearm? Would you show to the jury? May I clear the weapon to make it safe? Yes. Do you recognize this? Weapon I took from defendant. Marked for id. Sgt puts wire tie thru barrel to disable weapon. Other individual at scene was Ben Howard, but provide his brother Jamal’s (?) ID. Police were able to “ascertain that Ben Howard was Ben Howard”.
    3:20: Cross examination:
    Defendant walked up driveway in heavy snow without stumbling. Responded to officers commands without belligerence. Does sgt know what was going on with gun when it was at police station from feb to sept? No.
    3:26: Holbrook police officer observed smell of alcohol on defendant, slurred speech as defendant transported to station
    3:30 Holbrook police Sgt: transported weapon to state police crime lab in Lakeville. Chain of custody, weapon, serial number the same. Picked up box, at later date, along with report. ID report. (couple of jurors yawning, eyes drooping)
    3:38 cross: where was the gun from feb to sept 2010? in Holbrook evidence room? Why so long? Just didn’t getvaround to transporting it.
    3:40 Mass state trooper, ballistic forensic tech: certifies that weapon is firearm as defined by Mass law, ammunition are functional bullets. Declared as expert ballistic witness. Did you test fire it? Yes. Was it functional? Yes. Gun has laser sight, makes those scary little red dots. ID the magazine. (witness rolls eyes, looks apologetically to jury while court discusses if magazine was exhibit 2 or 3)
    Certification: that the weapon And ammunition are firearm as defined by Mass law
    3:55 Cross examination – Were the bullets in the magazine? Don’t recall, expedited request, went directly to witness rather than normal intake.
    4:02 Defense. Defendants girlfriend for 3 yrs. went to dinner at Daily Catch, one bottle of wine, defendant had 2 glasses. awoken at 2:30 AM by phone call, ben howard asking For ride to Holbrook,. Got to house, 2minutes later cops arrive, arrest defendant.
    4:02 p.m: Witness – Defendant’s Girlfriend: Exam: Girlfriend of 3 years, went on date that night, split a bottle of wine, she had more
    Phone call at 2:30 am, someone asking for ride. Went to pick him up in car and tok him home. 2 minutes after getting to the house the police arrested him.Cross-Exam:
    First saw him at 7:30. Came from work. Probably not drunk, wasn’t with him before.
    Repeated the entire story with a stern tone, questioning at various parts whether she ever left him alone, if she had any alcohol in her house.4:10 cross exam continued. Walk witness thru evening looking for opportunities for defendant to drink. None, except maybe when she went to bathroom, but not sure she even had alcohol in the house.4:17 p.m. adjourned, with warnings to jurors not to talk, research case, all you can say is the judge was nice to you.
    Unadjourn. Discussion of how to handle gun evidence overnight. Discussion of jury instructions with respect to firearms licensing.

2 responses to “Debrief: Cooperative Coverage Day”

  1. mollyflogs says:

    I’d love to see filming of other courtrooms in the same courthouse. If streaming multiple courtrooms is too much, uploading the videos for later viewing would be totally viable. Essentially, more more more!

    I also think it would be neat to pick a few defendants and follow their cases from beginning to end.

  2. Joe Spurr says:

    Molly: all wonderful suggestions. Thanks for your input!