Supreme Judicial Court, February 7, 2013

During a trial where the defendant raises a claim of self-defense and, pursuant to Commonwealth v. Adjutant, 443 Mass. 649 (2005), has been permitted to introduce evidence of the victim's prior violent acts on the issue of the identity of the first aggressor, the Commonwealth may introduce evidence of the defendant's prior violent acts on that same issue--to be followed by an instruction that the jury may consider the evidence of both parties' violent acts on the findings of who was the first aggressor provided that the Commonwealth gives the defendant notice appropriately in advance of its intent to introduce such evidence and the trial judge determines that introduction of such evidence is more probative of its intended purpose than prejudicial to the defendant.