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August 20, 2014

SJC Reverses Conviction Based on Improper DNA Evidence Testimony

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) recently reversed a defendant's conviction and remanded the case for a new trial due to the improper admission of expert testimony regarding DNA evidence. The SJC concluded that an opinion regarding the results of DNA testing is admissible only where the defendant has a meaningful opportunity to cross-examine the expert witness about the reliability of the underlying data produced by such testing.

In Commonwealth v. Tassone, a superior court jury convicted the defendant of unarmed robbery and assault and battery. The defendant had been arrested in connection with the robbery of a small variety store in Pittsfield, MA. The defendant was the allegedly the only customer in the store at the time of the robbery. It was alleged that the defendant went to the counter to purchase an item, and when the store manager opened the register door, the defendant reached into the register to take the money. A fight ensued, ending with the manager on the floor and the defendant fleeing with $350. When police arrived at the scene, they recovered a pair of eyeglasses on the floor that did not belong to the store manager.

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