Decision Commonwealth v. Colon

Date: 05/03/2019
Organization: Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

Commonwealth v. Colon
Supreme Judicial Court, May 3, 2019
(Voir Dire/Racial or Ethnic Bias)


The Court among other issues addressed individual voir dire of the venire on racial or ethnic bias.  The Court, as a matter of supervisory power, extended the principle announced in Commonwealth v. Young, 401 Mass. 390, 398 (1987); Commonwealth v. Hobbs, 385 Mass. 863, 873 (1992); and Commonwealth v. Sanders, 383 Mass. 637, 640 (1981).  Specifically, in cases of murder, sexual offenses against children, and rape, where a defendant facing trial on such a charge requests individual voir dire on the issue of racial or ethnic prejudice, and the defendant and the victim are of different such backgrounds, the judge shall grant the request.  The rule shall be applied in cases tried after the issuance of the rescript in this case.

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