Supreme Judicial Court (October 24, 2006)
Proof of a third OUI conviction is sufficient to establish the fact of the first two OUI offenses.
The Commonwealth is not required to offer live testimony to link the defendant to the prior convictions.
The defendant was convicted of operating under the influence (OUI), fourth offense. To prove the prior convictions, the Commonwealth introduced certified court records of the defendant's second OUI conviction; certified records of his conviction for third-offense OUI; and Registry of Motor Vehicle (RMV) documents referencing the defendant's three prior OUIs. On appeal, among other things the defendant claimed that the Commonwealth (1) was required to offer certified records of each of his prior convictions and (2) was required to provide live testimony to link him to each prior offense.
The SJC disagreed. It held that proof of conviction of a third offense OUI effectively incorporates proof of the first and second offenses: "[A] judgment of conviction for a third offense may appropriately be relied on to establish culpability for the first two offenses." In addition, the court rejected the defendant's assertion that the Commonwealth must offer live testimony to prove that the defendant is the same person referenced in the prior convictions. Clarifying its ruling in Commonwealth v. Koney, 421 Mass. 295 (1995), the court acknowledged that the Commonwealth cannot rely solely on the mere identity of name from documents, but " we have never said that live witness testimony was required."