Commonwealth v. Woodin, 090319 MACA, 18-P-1581

Docket Nº:18-P-1581
Judge Panel:Sullivan, Massing & Lemire, JJ.
Case Date:September 03, 2019
Court:Appeals Court of Massachusetts




No. 18-P-1581

Appeals Court of Massachusetts

September 3, 2019

Summary decisions issued by the Appeals Court pursuant to its rule 1:28, as amended by 73 Mass.App.Ct. 1001 (2009), are primarily directed to the parties and, therefore, may not fully address the facts of the case or the panel's decisional rationale. Moreover, such decisions are not circulated to the entire court and, therefore, represent only the views of the panel that decided the case. A summary decision pursuant to rule 1:28 issued after February 25, 2008, may be cited for its persuasive value but, because of the limitations noted above, not as binding precedent. See Chace v. Curran, 71 Mass.App.Ct. 258, 260 n.4 (2008).


The defendant, Chris S. Woodin, appeals from his convictions of operating under the influence and negligent operation of a motor vehicle.1 Woodin claims that the judge's failure to excuse a jury member for cause and the prosecutor's improper closing argument, warrant a new trial. We affirm.


1. Facts surrounding the arrest.

Officer Adam Paicos of the Erving police department was on patrol when he observed a car run a stop sign at a high rate of speed. Paicos pulled the car over and identified the driver as Woodin. During his initial conversation with Woodin, Paicos detected an odor of alcohol and observed that Woodin's eyes were bloodshot and glassy and his speech was slurred. Paicos asked Woodin if he had anything to drink that night, to which Woodin replied that he had three beers about thirty minutes ago.

Paicos performed field sobriety tests.2 During these tests, Woodin appeared off-balance, swayed backward, had trouble focusing, and could not keep his head still. For example, in one of the tests, Woodin was asked to raise his foot six inches off the ground for thirty seconds. Woodin had to make several attempts to keep his foot raised and was only able to count up to four before losing his balance. Based on his observations, Paicos formed the opinion that Woodin was under the influence of intoxicating liquor and placed him under arrest. During his booking at the police station, Woodin called his girlfriend and told her that he had "not even a six pack ... I wasn't even sloshed."[3]

2. Jury venire.

During the jury venire, juror 17 raised her hand in response to a question regarding whether she or a family member has ever been involved with an Alcoholics Anonymous program, and explained that her father was an alcoholic. When asked whether she would be able to follow the legal definition of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol, "without succumbing to any personal feelings," juror 17 answered, "yes." The following exchange then took place: Defense Counsel: "Hi. If you hear that a person had a few drinks before driving, would that affect your ability to remain fair and impartial and listen to all the evidence?"

Juror 17: "Oh, I would listen to the evidence. I would still make the judgment that the person was foolish or . . . . Excuse me, I'm losing my voice. I would be able to be fair and listen, although I would pre-judge that person as having poor judgment for taking a few drinks and getting behind the wheel. I mean, I would -- but I would listen."

When asked if she...

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