Commonwealth v. Lanigan

Click here for full document (PDF)

COMMONWEALTH v. THOMAS J. LANIGAN.

N-6505

SUPREME JUDICIAL COURT OF MASSACHUSETTS

419 Mass. 15; 641 N.E.2d 1342; 1994 Mass. LEXIS 620

September 8, 1994, Argued
November 18, 1994, Decided

PRIOR HISTORY: [***1]
Norfolk. Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court Department on January 11, 1989. Motions to dismiss were heard by John Paul Sullivan, J., and Barbara A. Dortch, J.; following review by this court, 413 Mass. 154 (1992), a third motion to dismiss was heard by Andrew G. Meyer, J., and a certain evidentiary ruling was made by him; the case was then heard by Paul A. Chernoff, J. The Supreme Judicial Court granted a request for direct appellate review.

DISPOSITION: Judgments affirmed.

HEADNOTES: Deoxyribonucleic Acid. Practice, Criminal, Speedy Trial. Constitutional Law, Speedy trial. Evidence, Competency, Scientific test.

COUNSEL: William C. McPhee (Dolores E. O’Neill with him) for the defendant.
Stephanie Martin Glennon, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

JUDGES: Present: Liacos, C.J., Wilkins, Abrams, Nolan, & Lynch, JJ.

OPINION BY: WILKINS

OPINION: [*16] [**1344]
WILKINS, J. In Commonwealth v. Lanigan, 413 Mass. 154, 596 N.E.2d 311 (1992) (Lanigan I), this court upheld a pretrial ruling that had excluded the admission of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) test results that showed a match between the defendant’s DNA and DNA found on the [***2] clothes of one of the victims. We did so because it did not appear that the process that the Commonwealth used for estimating the frequency with which the defendant’s DNA profile would occur in the population had been generally accepted in the field of population genetics. On remand, the Commonwealth immediately advanced a new and different process for determining the likelihood of a DNA match. On the basis of that new process, a judge ruled in the Superior Court that DNA evidence tending to incriminate the defendant was admissible. n1

At a bench trial in which the defendant stipulated to the evidence against him, including the DNA evidence, the defendant was found guilty of rape of a child and of indecent assault and battery on three minors. We granted the defendant’s application for direct appellate review and once [***3] again consider the admissibility of DNA test results. See Commonwealth v. Daggett, 416 Mass. 347, 622 N.E.2d 272 (1993); Lanigan I, supra; Commonwealth v. Curnin, 409 Mass. 218, 565 N.E.2d 440 (1991). This time we conclude that an adequate basis for the admission of testimony on the statistical probability of a DNA match is established, and thus the DNA evidence was admissible. Before we may properly reach and discuss the DNA evidentiary [*17] issue, however, we discuss and reject the defendant’s argument that the delay in his trial required the dismissal of the charges against him.

Click here for full document (PDF)