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Commonwealth v. Firmin

Appeals Court of Massachusetts, Middlesex

February 10, 2016

Commonwealth
v.
Kristie L. Firmin

         Argued November 6, 2015

          Complaint received and sworn to in the Framingham Division of the District Court Department on February 29, 2012.

         The case was tried before Douglas W. Stoddart, J.

          Jin-Ho King for the defendant.

          Charles Koech, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

         Present: Katzmann, Milkey, & Carhart, JJ.

          OPINION

          [46 N.E.3d 560] Carhart, J.

          The defendant appeals from her conviction by a District Court jury of operating under the influence of alcohol, second offense, G. L. c. 90, § 24(1)( a )(1), on the basis that the trial judge gave a coercive jury instruction.[1] We agree.[2]

          Background.

          In the early morning hours of February 29, 2012, a Framingham police officer stopped a vehicle he had been following after he observed it making some erratic movements.

Page 63

The officer determined that the defendant was driving, and that she was under the influence of alcohol. The defendant was arrested and tried for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

         After closing arguments and following his general instructions on the law, the trial judge stated:

" If I can give you some helpful hints -- because we do this every day -- it's not fun or easy to be a juror, we know that. So, to the extent that you could create a collegial atmosphere in the room, that would be great. So, when the door shuts, it would be very helpful if people didn't make pronouncements, you know, 'This is the way I'm going to vote', because then ...

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