Appeals Court (June 10, 2010)
The admission of certified docket sheets to prove prior convictions does not violate a defendant's Sixth Amendment confrontation rights.
A jury found the defendant guilty of unlawful possession of a firearm without a license. Subsequently, the defendant waived his right to a jury trial on a charge of carrying a firearm without a license, subsequent offense, and the judge found the defendant guilty. The defendant appealed the subsequent offense conviction arguing that the admission of the docket sheets to prove the prior conviction violated his Sixth Amendment confrontation rights.
The defendant, relying on Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 129 S. Ct. 2527 (2009), argued that the certified docket sheets were testimonial hearsay. The Commonwealth argued that the certified convictions are not testimonial hearsay because they qualify as business records. The Court found that certified convictions are used for various administrative purposes, and "unlike drug certificates, docket sheets are not prepared for an upcoming case and are not testimonial since the authors are not witnesses against the criminal defendant."
The Court further found that docket sheets are not testimonial under the two-part inquiry established in Commonwealth v. Gonsalves, 445 Mass. 1 (2005). Docket sheets are not "testimonial per se" because they are not made in response to interrogation or in a solemnized form similar to a deposition or affidavit. Moreover, docket sheets are not "testimonial in fact" because they are created for numerous administrative purposes, and they are not created for the purpose of pending litigation.