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July 20, 1989
Commonwealth v. W.C.
Stoughton District Court
OUI LIQUOR: CONVICTION REVERSED
LEAVING THE SCENE: CONVICTION REVERSED
At 1:45 a.m., police were dispatched to an auto-body garage in Avon for an argument in progress as a result of a hit-and-run accident. Upon arrival, a witness stated to police that a blue pick-up truck struck his vehicle, which was parked in front of his house. The witness chased the blue pick-up truck to the auto-body garage. The witness observed three people sitting in the blue pick-up truck. The witness identified the Defendant as getting out of the driver’s side of the truck. The witness identified a woman as sitting in the middle seat. The witness identified the Defendant as the operator of the pick-up truck. Defendant was the registered owner of the pick-up truck. Officers observed that the Defendant was highly intoxicated. Officers immediately detected a strong odor of alcohol coming from the Defendant’s breath. Defendant’s eyes were glassy, his speech was slurred, and he was very unsteady on his feet. The officer observed that the Defendant would close his eyes every 5 seconds, as if he was about to fall asleep. Defendant was arrested OUI-Liquor and Leaving the Scene of an Accident.
At this time in the 1980s, the District Court in Massachusetts had a two-tier trial system (known as the “de novo” system) in which a Defendant could choose to have a bench trial before a judge and, if found guilty, demand a jury trial on appeal.
Here, Defendant was tried before a judge and found Guilty of OUI-Liquor and Leaving the Scene of an Accident. Defendant was sentenced to 90 days in the House of Correction suspended for two-years, 14 days in an impatient treatment facility, and ordered to pay restitution. Defendant retained Attorney Gerald J. Noonan.
Result: Attorney Gerald J. Noonan appealed the Defendant’s conviction to the second tier of the trial system. Attorney Gerald J. Noonan filed a Motion to Dismiss and requested an evidentiary hearing. At the evidentiary hearing, Attorney Noonan called the Defendant’s wife to testify. Defendant’s wife testified that the Defendant was not the operator of the blue pick-up truck and that she had been the operator of the blue pick-up truck. The judge dismissed the criminal complaints against the Defendant, and his prior convictions were vacated.