Thursday, July 03, 2014

Prompt Evidentiary Hearings Ordered for G.L.c. 209A Cases

A plaintiff who requested an abuse prevention order was entitled to a prompt evidentiary hearing under G.L.c. 209A despite the fact that the defendant was facing possible consequences in his criminal proceedings if he were to testify in the Chapter 209A proceeding.

"Barring an agreement of the parties or emergency circumstances, both sides are entitled to an evidentiary hearing within ten days," Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland wrote for a unanimous court.

"Notwithstanding that [defendant Scott] Capuano faced a potentially difficult choice between testifying in the c. 209A case or asserting his privilege against self-incrimination, [plaintiff Aneeta] Singh was nevertheless entitled to a prompt evidentiary hearing on her claim under c. 209A," Ireland added. "While the decision whether to draw an adverse inference based on Capuano's failure to testify was ultimately one for the judge as fact finder, the judge was obliged to consider whether such an inference was fair and reasonable based on all the circumstances and evidence before him."

The case is Singh vs. Capuano (and a consolidated case), 468 Mass. 328, decided June 11, 2014.

See also our webpages: Massachusetts Law About Domestic Violence and Massachusetts Law about Defending Against a c.209A Order.