439 Mass. 678 (July 1, 2003)

A petition filed by a grand jury must be under oath or supported by a sworn affidavit when the approval sought is dependent on a showing of a "reasonable basis for believing" that the evidence sought will significantly aid the grand jury in their investigation.

The defendant was a suspect in the bloody stabbing of an elderly gentleman. After hearing evidence of the defendant's possible involvement, the grand jury filed a petition for an order directing the defendant to provide samples of his hair, blood and saliva. In reviewing the petition, the SJC found ample information to support the grand jury's request. Based on blood stains and other physical evidence gathered at the crime scene, the grand jury clearly had a "reasonable basis for believing" that samples from the defendant would "significantly aid" their investigation.

The issue, however, considered for the first time by the SJC, was whether the petition should be under oath or supported by a sworn affidavit. The answer is, yes. This requirement "can be met by the filing of a verified petition or an affidavit from the prosecutor or a member of the grand jury, or by the submission of grand jury testimony."