Commonwealth v. Teixeira, SJC–11929, SJC–11944.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtLENK, J.
Citation475 Mass. 482,58 N.E.3d 292
Docket NumberSJC–11929, SJC–11944.
Decision Date16 September 2016
Parties COMMONWEALTH v. Angelo TEIXEIRA. Commonwealth v. Christopher A. Meade.

475 Mass. 482
58 N.E.3d 292

COMMONWEALTH
v.
Angelo TEIXEIRA.


Commonwealth
v.
Christopher A. Meade.

SJC–11929, SJC–11944.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Suffolk.

Submitted Jan. 11, 2016.
Decided Sept. 16, 2016.


58 N.E.3d 294

Valerie A. DePalma (Jeffrey M. Miller with her) for the defendants.

Kathryn Leary, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

John D. Donovan, Jr., Boston, Jesse M. Boodoo, Joshua D. Rovenger, & David M. Coriell, Boston, for Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.

Benjamin H. Keehn, Committee for Public Counsel Services, for Committee for Public Counsel Services, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.

58 N.E.3d 295

Present: GANTS, C.J., CORDY, BOTSFORD, DUFFLY, LENK, & HINES, JJ.1

LENK, J.

475 Mass. 483

These cases stem from two unrelated, nonfatal shootings in the Roxbury section of Boston in June, 2015, and July, 2015. Angelo Teixeira was arrested for the first shooting, and Christopher Meade for the second. Meade and Teixeira each were charged by complaint in the Boston Municipal Court (BMC) with a number of felonies, including some that are outside the final jurisdiction of that court. Pursuant to G.L. c. 276, § 38, probable cause hearings were scheduled for each defendant to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to bind them over to the Superior Court for trial. The Commonwealth was ordered to provide the defendants with discovery in advance of those hearings. Noting that judges of the BMC and the District Court Department2 are not explicitly authorized, either by statute or by the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure, to order discovery in preparation for probable cause hearings (prehearing discovery), the Commonwealth objected to the discovery orders and filed interlocutory appeals.

In considering these cases, we must determine whether judges of the BMC may order prehearing discovery in the absence of specific authorization from G.L. c. 276, § 38, the Rules of Criminal Procedure, or any trial court standing order.3 We conclude that, because such judges have inherent authority to issue orders essential to their capacity to decide cases, they may, in their discretion, order prehearing discovery. We conclude also that, here, the judges did not abuse their discretion by issuing these discovery orders, which were limited in scope and which would have allowed defense counsel reasonably to prepare for the scheduled probable cause hearings.4

475 Mass. 484

1. Background. a. Teixeira. On June 20, 2015, Boston police officers were dispatched to the scene of a shooting in Roxbury. There, they encountered Teixeira, who had been shot in the leg and soon thereafter was transported to a hospital. The officers interviewed three witnesses, including an off-duty police officer from another jurisdiction, who said that they heard gunshots and that, subsequently, someone matching Teixeira's description had fired several shots at “unknown persons.” Police obtained surveillance footage from a store near the scene, which showed two individuals—one of whom is apparently believed to be Teixeira—“remov[ing] items from the store,” “flee[ing]”

58 N.E.3d 296

down the street, and “plac[ing] a white garbage bag in the rear of [a nearby] yard.”5 Police recovered two firearms from the garbage bag.

On June 24, 2015, a complaint issued in the BMC, charging Teixeira with four crimes within the final jurisdiction of that court: carrying a firearm without a license, G.L. c. 269, § 10 (a ) ; carrying a loaded firearm without a license, G.L. c. 269, § 10 (n ) ; possession of ammunition without a firearm identification (FID) card as a subsequent offense, G.L. c. 269, § 10 (h ) (1 ) ; and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, G.L. c. 265, § 15A (b ) (three counts). The complaint also charged him with two crimes—carrying a firearm without a license as a second offense, G.L. c. 269, § 10 (a ), (d ) ; and committing a firearms violation having been convicted of three violent crimes or three serious drug offenses, G.L. c. 269, § 10G (c ) —for which final jurisdiction lies only in the Superior Court.6

Teixeira was arrested and arraigned the same day. At arraignment, the judge scheduled a probable cause hearing for July 7, 2015. Over the Commonwealth's objection, the judge granted Teixeira's motion for discovery in advance of that hearing. He ordered that the names and contact information of the Commonwealth's three witnesses be turned over by the close of business the following day, and that the surveillance footage be turned over the following week, four days before the hearing. The judge

475 Mass. 485

also issued a protective order “direct[ing defense counsel] not to provide to [Teixeira] any contact information on any witness.” The protective order was later expanded to prevent Teixeira from learning the names of the civilian witnesses.

The following day, June 25, 2015, the Commonwealth filed a motion for reconsideration with respect to the discovery orders. A hearing on the Commonwealth's motion was scheduled for June 26, 2105. At that hearing, the Commonwealth's motion was denied, and the judge ordered that the witness information be turned over by the close of business. The judge did, however, allow the Commonwealth's motion to continue the probable cause hearing for approximately one month.

Later that day, the Commonwealth filed a notice of appeal with respect to the discovery order, a motion to stay the order pending appeal, and a request for a written ruling. The judge stayed the discovery order until the close of business on June 30, 2015. The judge also issued a written ruling, explaining that he had ordered discovery because

“[a]ffording such minimal discovery as the identities of witnesses and an opportunity to view video footage of the alleged incident in advance of the probable cause hearing is essential to the defendant's ability meaningfully to exercise his rights to confrontation and to present evidence at that hearing.... For example, one of the witnesses might describe the alleged shooter differently from the way that the defendant is described in the police report or from other witness accounts. Without the witnesses' identities being disclosed to defense counsel in advance of the
58 N.E.3d 297
hearing, such discrepancies, which might raise genuine issues with respect to probable cause, could not be explored ....”

On June 30, 2015, the Commonwealth filed a motion to further stay the discovery order. The judge denied the motion, and the stay expired, by its own terms, at the close of business that day. The Commonwealth did not provide the ordered discovery.

The next day, July 1, 2015, Teixeira filed a motion seeking sanctions. At a hearing later that day, the judge asked the Commonwealth to address why “[nineteen] and a half hours after that stay expired ... there's been no compliance.” He noted,

“[M]y order is in effect ... [A]s far as I know, it hasn't been stayed, and I'm starting to get a little impatient, because I
475 Mass. 486
feel like I'm trying to do things procedurally in a way that respects the law and procedure. And I'm starting to feel like not everybody is adhering to the same rules.”

The judge did not then issue a ruling on sanctions. Rather, he allowed the Commonwealth's request for seven days in which to respond to the defendant's motion for sanctions.

On July 2, 2015, the Commonwealth filed an emergency petition in the county court, seeking an immediate stay of execution of the discovery order, and also seeking to vacate that order. The motion for a stay was allowed on July 7, 2015, and a single justice thereafter reserved and reported the Commonwealth's petition to the full court.

On July 30, 2015, a Suffolk County grand jury returned eleven indictments against Teixeira.7 On August 26, 2015, the defendant was arraigned in the Superior Court and was provided with the discovery he had been seeking from the BMC.

b. Meade. Shortly after midnight on July 5, 2015, a “black male” wearing a red sweatshirt approached a sedan parked on a street in the Roxbury section of Boston, and fired approximately three shots into the vehicle. Four people, including the driver, were inside; two passengers were hit. The driver drove away from the scene, pulled up next to a nearby police cruiser, and sought help. The two victims were taken to a hospital. Police interviewed the driver and one of the passengers,8 and obtained a surveillance video recording of the shooting.

On July 8, 2015, police showed a photographic array, which did not contain a photograph of Meade, to the driver and one of the passengers. Neither could identify any of the pictured individuals as the shooter. On July 10, 2015, Meade was arrested and held in custody on an unrelated charge. On July 11, 2015, police presented another photographic array to the driver and to the

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4 practice notes
  • Commonwealth v. Rossetti, SJC-13036
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • May 5, 2022
    ..."among other things, those 'whose exercise is essential to . . . [the court's] capacity to decide cases, '" Commonwealth v. Teixeira, 475 Mass. 482, 490 (2016), quoting Brach v. Chief Justice of the Dist. Court Dep't, 386 Mass. 528, 535 (1982), and because this court possesses the "inherent......
  • Commonwealth v. Irvin I., 20-P-372.
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • July 13, 2021
    ...the complaint when, on the evidence presented, a trial court would be bound to acquit as a matter of law." Commonwealth v. Teixeira, 475 Mass. 482, 489 n.14, 58 N.E.3d 292 (2016), quoting Myers v. Commonwealth, 363 Mass. 843, 850, 298 N.E.2d 819 (1973). It follows that an appellate court, i......
  • Commonwealth v. Irvin I., No. 20-P-372.
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • July 13, 2021
    ...the complaint when, on the evidencePage 8presented, a trial court would be bound to acquit as a matter of law." Commonwealth v. Teixeira, 475 Mass. 482, 489 n.14 (2016), quoting Myers v. Commonwealth, 363 Mass. 843, 850 (1973). It follows that an appellate court, in reviewing de novo a judg......
  • Commonwealth v. Joe J., 20-P-26
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • July 14, 2021
    ...the complaint when, on the evidence presented, a trial court would be bound to acquit as a matter of law.’ Commonwealth v. Teixeira, 475 Mass. 482, 489 n.14 (2016), quoting Myers v. Commonwealth, 363 Mass. 843, 849 (1973)." (Footnote omitted.) Irvin I., supra at 7-8. Contrary to the juvenil......
4 cases
  • Commonwealth v. Rossetti, SJC-13036
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • May 5, 2022
    ..."among other things, those 'whose exercise is essential to . . . [the court's] capacity to decide cases, '" Commonwealth v. Teixeira, 475 Mass. 482, 490 (2016), quoting Brach v. Chief Justice of the Dist. Court Dep't, 386 Mass. 528, 535 (1982), and because this court possesses the "inherent......
  • Commonwealth v. Irvin I., 20-P-372.
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • July 13, 2021
    ...the complaint when, on the evidence presented, a trial court would be bound to acquit as a matter of law." Commonwealth v. Teixeira, 475 Mass. 482, 489 n.14, 58 N.E.3d 292 (2016), quoting Myers v. Commonwealth, 363 Mass. 843, 850, 298 N.E.2d 819 (1973). It follows that an appellate court, i......
  • Commonwealth v. Irvin I., No. 20-P-372.
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • July 13, 2021
    ...the complaint when, on the evidencePage 8presented, a trial court would be bound to acquit as a matter of law." Commonwealth v. Teixeira, 475 Mass. 482, 489 n.14 (2016), quoting Myers v. Commonwealth, 363 Mass. 843, 850 (1973). It follows that an appellate court, in reviewing de novo a judg......
  • Commonwealth v. Joe J., 20-P-26
    • United States
    • Appeals Court of Massachusetts
    • July 14, 2021
    ...the complaint when, on the evidence presented, a trial court would be bound to acquit as a matter of law.’ Commonwealth v. Teixeira, 475 Mass. 482, 489 n.14 (2016), quoting Myers v. Commonwealth, 363 Mass. 843, 849 (1973)." (Footnote omitted.) Irvin I., supra at 7-8. Contrary to the juvenil......

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