What CORI Reform Means for Police

Many people have asked what affect the newly signed Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) means for the way Police do business in the Commonwealth.

On August 6, 2010 Governor Patrick signed into law the new CORI law which has two effective dates. The first date is November 4, 2010 and the second date that it becomes active in part is May 4, 2012. The acts of Session laws: Chapter 256 of the acts of 2010 which can be found by the attached link did in fact change the way the law is applied, but insofar as how law enforcement deals with it, it means nothing.

The least you need to know about the CORI reform is that it related more to the “Ban the Box” on applications and the area of employment law than it did in any way affect law enforcement. Essentially, the law was written with the following disclaimer in it;

“SECTION 10. Said section 168 of said chapter 6, as so appearing, is hereby further amended by striking out, in lines 50 and 51, the words “five hundred dollars for each willful violation thereof, after notice and hearing as provided by applicable law” and inserting in place thereof the following words:- $1,000 for a knowing violation thereof, $2,500 for a second knowing violation, and $5,000 for a third or subsequent knowing violation, after notice and hearing as provided by applicable law; provided, however, that the board shall not issue any orders, sanctions or fines against a law enforcement officer who, in good faith, obtains or seeks to obtain or communicates or seeks to communicate criminal offender record information in the furtherance of the officer’s official duties.”

This would mean that the law still allows a police officer to release “CORI” in the same manner as previously allowed such as stated in Bellin v. Kelley 435 Mass. 261 (2001) which said, “ G.L. c. 6, § 178A, provides that victims and witnesses of crime “shall be certified” to receive CORI pertaining to the offense with which they were involved and authorizes criminal justice agencies to disclose “to such persons such additional information, including but not limited to evaluative information, as such agencies determine, in their discretion, is reasonably necessary for the security and well being of such persons.” This provision recognizes that victims and witnesses have a justifiable need for information, including CORI, that pertains to the crime that they have either suffered or witnessed, and indeed requires that the board approve their requests for such access to CORI. Cf. G.L. c. 258B, § 3 ( a) (requirement that prosecutor “periodically apprise the victim of significant developments in the case”). Section 178A also recognizes that, in some cases, victims and witnesses may need such information for their own safety and security, and allows criminal justice agencies discretion to reveal to victims and witnesses information that is “reasonably necessary” for that purpose.”

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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