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PostPosted: Wed Sep 05, 2001 4:41 pm 

Joined: Mon Nov 20, 2000 6:01 am
Posts: 493
Location: Framingham, MA USA
A recent decision from the Appellate Division of the Boston Municipal Court related to a case appealed from the Trial Court (Boston Municipal Court.

The case involved the determination by as Clerk Magistrate of that Court determining responsibility. The subject matter other than it was a motorist who appealled was not discussed but I believe it must have been related to accident responsibility in an accident case. The insurance charges are quite large with a finding of this sort.

In any event the case went up on appeal when a Clerk Magistrate found the motorist responsible at a hearing even though a law enforcement officer or representative of the citation issuing authority did not attend the hearing.

The Court Rules required all witnesses to be sworn but the rules of evidence did not apply to such hearings before judges or clerk magistrates. These fact finders will determine the weight of the evidence, but that a party to the action had the right to present evidence and cross examine witnesses.The Court cited a Massachusetts case of Town of Reading v. Murray 405 Mass. 415,416 which held that if no representative of the citation issuing authority had appeared at the clerk magistrate hearing, dismissal for non prosecution without right of appeal would be justified.

The Appellate Division found : "Accordingly, the determination of the hearing Judge is vacated and a finding of 'not responsible' shall be entered".

Be aware of this because even minor motor vehicle infractions can cause your insurer to rate you yearly for a long period of time.

Alan K

"The Goddess of Justice is Blind"

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