In Commonwealth v. D.M., the Supreme Judicial Court reversed the single justice’s denial of the Commonwealth’s petition for relief from an interlocutory order of the Juvenile Court, requiring the Commonwealth to reveal the identity of an informant.
The background was as follows. “Acting on information provided by a confidential informant, the Boston police apprehended, searched, and arrested the juvenile, D.M., on firearm-related charges. Before a hearing on the motion to suppress in the Juvenile Court, the juvenile sought an order requiring the Commonwealth to disclose the identity of its informant and other related information. The Commonwealth asserted that it was privileged not to disclose the information, … because disclosure would jeopardize the informant’s safety. It averred that the informant was not a percipient witness to the juvenile’s arrest, and that the juvenile had not met his burden of demonstrating that disclosure was required…. [T]he judge allowed the juvenile’s motion. The judge determined that … the juvenile adequately had challenged the assertion of the privilege on the ground that it interfered with his right to present a defense…. The judge concluded that the ‘informant’s identity and concomitant information are sufficiently “relevant and helpful to the defense of an accused” that it must be disclosed.’ [Commonwealthv. Bonnett, 472 Mass. 827,] 847 , quoting Commonwealthv. Dias, 451 Mass. 463, 468 (2008). The Commonwealth thereafter filed a G.L. c.211, §3 petition …, seeking reversal of the interlocutory ruling…. The single justice denied the petition, and the Commonwealth appeal[ed].” Continue reading →