Barbara Fell-Johnson, Head Law Librarian at the Hampshire Law Library, has pointed out a significant technical error in Melanie's Law, 2005 St. c.122, which she promptly reported to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. 2005 St. c.122 Sect. 6A actually DELETES THE WRONG SECTION OF THE GENERAL LAWS and as a result leaves us with TWO sections dealing with the same subject matter, and one former section that appears to be missing altogether.
It accidentally deleted c.90 s.24 (1)(c)(4) which previously read: "Notwithstanding the foregoing, no new license shall be issued or right to operate be reinstated by the registrar to any person convicted of a violation of subparagraph (1) of paragraph (a) until ten years after the date of conviction in case the registrar determines upon investigation and after hearing that the action of the person so convicted in committing such offense caused an accident resulting in the death of another, nor at any time after a subsequent conviction of such an offense, whenever committed, in case the registrar determines in the manner aforesaid that the action of such person, in committing the offense of which he was so subsequently convicted, caused an accident resulting in the death of another."
It did NOT delete the section it should have deleted: c.90 GL s.24(4), which previously read "In any prosecution commenced pursuant to this section, introduction into evidence of a prior conviction or prior finding of sufficient facts by either original court papers or certified attested copy of original court papers, accompanied by a certified attested copy of the biographical and informational data from official probation office records, shall be prima facie evidence that a defendant has been convicted previously or assigned to an alcohol or controlled substance education, treatment, or rehabilitation program because of a like offense by a court of the commonwealth one or more times preceding the date of commission of the offense for which said defendant is being prosecuted."
It replaced section 24(1)(c)(4) with the following wording:
"In any prosecution commenced pursuant to this section, introduction into evidence of a prior conviction or a prior finding of sufficient facts by either certified attested copies of original court papers, or certified attested copies of the defendant's biographical and informational data from records of the department of probation, any jail or house of corrections, the department of correction, or the registry, shall be prima facie evidence that the defendant before the court had been convicted previously or assigned to an alcohol or controlled substance education, treatment, or rehabilitation program by a court of the commonwealth or any other jurisdiction. Such documentation shall be self-authenticating and admissible, after the commonwealth has established the defendant's guilt on the primary offense, as evidence in any court of the commonwealth to prove the defendant's commission of any prior convictions described therein. The commonwealth shall not be required to introduce any additional corrobating evidence, nor live witness testimony to establish the validity of such prior convictions. "
So now we are left with a new 24(1)(c)(4) and 24(4) which deal with exactly the same thing, but with different wording, and no 24(1)(c)(4) that deals with license reinstatement. We'll leave it to the lawyers and judges out there to interpret all this, but as librarians, we thought we'd bring it to your attention.