Certified Registry Documents not Applicable to Melendez Diaz Ruling

On April 2, 2010 The Massachusetts appeals court ruled that Certified Registry of Motor vehicle documents did not violate the Confrontation clause in COMMONWEALTH vs. DALE K. MCMULLIN 76 Mass.App.Ct. 904 (2010)

The court stated “The defendant was convicted of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, fourth offense, G. L. c. 90, § 24(1)(a)(1), operating after license suspension, second offense, G. L. c. 90, § 23, and failure to stop for a police officer, G. L. c. 90, § 25. On appeal, he challenges the admissibility, competency, and sufficiency of the public records used to establish his prior convictions. We address the defendant’s three principal contentions in turn. [FN1]

Confrontation clause. The defendant argues that the admission of certified copies of records from the Registry of Motor Vehicles and the District Court violated his right to confront the witnesses against him under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The defendant acknowledges that the admissibility of such records is established by Commonwealth v. Maloney, 447 Mass. 577, 592 (2006), but observes that Maloney rested its analysis of the confrontation clause issue on Commonwealth v. Verde, 444 Mass. 279, 283-284 (2005), and that Verde has since been overturned by the United States Supreme Court. See Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 129 S. Ct. 2527 (2009). The argument is unavailing. In Melendez-Diaz, the Court explicitly acknowledged that a clerk’s affidavit authenticating an official record is not testimonial for purposes of the confrontation clause, see id. at 2538-2539, and explained that “[b]usiness and public records are generally admissible absent confrontation not because they qualify under an exception to the hearsay rules, but because — having been created for the administration of an entity’s affairs and not for the purpose of establishing or proving some fact at trial — they are not testimonial.” Id. at 2539-2540. Admission of court records and records of the Registry of Motor Vehicles in the present case did not violate the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right of confrontation. General Laws c. 90, § 24(4), is unaffected by the Melendez-Diaz decision. See Commonwealth v. Martinez-Guzman, ante 167, 171 n.3 (2010).
Admissibility of Registry of Motor Vehicles records. Finally, there is no merit to the defendant’s contention that records of the Registry of Motor Vehicles were improperly admitted. As a threshold matter, we note that the defendant did not object to admission of the records. See note 2, supra. Moreover, the records were admissible under G. L. c. 90, § 30, even had the defendant objected. There was no error, much less a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice. Judgments affirmed”


Since the Melendez Diaz ruling, there has been a massive attempt by defense attorneys to apply it to everything. Clearly there is a huge difference between a certified Registry document outlining the Defendants driving history and the results of a chemical analysis which if done incorrectly may have differant results. The Appeals court agrees thankfully.

Attorney Ronald A. Sellon

About Attorney Ronald A. Sellon

Ronald A. Sellon is a licensed Attorney in the state of Massachusetts and U.S. District Court, Massachusetts as well as a Sergeant with a Municipal Police Department and U.S. military Veteran. Additionally, he has taught Criminal Procedure at the Massachusetts State Police Academy in New Braintree and has written a text on Criminal Procedure for police field training officer programs. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, was a 2008 recipient of the Massachusetts Coalition of Police (Mass C.O.P.) Presidents award and holds a Bachelors Degree in Law Enforcement, a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice Administration, and a Juris Doctor Law Degree. Questions related to content material may be directed to RSellon@PoliceLegalPromotions.com
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