Press Release

Press Release Supreme Judicial Court Announces New Committee to Study Grand Jury Proceedings

For immediate release:
3/22/2017
  • Supreme Judicial Court
  • Massachusetts Court System

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Jennifer Donahue and Erika Gully-Santiago

BOSTON, MA — The Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court today announced the creation of a Committee to Study Grand Jury Proceedings. The committee will report on the practices employed by the district attorneys and the Attorney General with respect to grand jury presentments, the reasons supporting the different practices, the substance of the instructions that grand juries receive, and any recommended best practices.    

In a recent opinion, Commonwealth v . Bryan M. Grassie, 476 Mass. 202 (2017), the Supreme Judicial Court stated that it would "convene a committee to assist us in gaining a better understanding of current practices employed by the various district attorneys and the Attorney General before considering an extension of the rule adopted in Commonwealth v. Walczak, 463 Mass. 808 (2012) to similar types of grand jury proceedings involving adults." In Walczak, the Court had held that “where the Commonwealth seeks to indict a juvenile for murder and where there is substantial evidence of mitigating circumstances or defenses (other than lack of criminal responsibility) presented to the grand jury, the prosecutor shall instruct the grand jury on the elements of murder and on the significance of the mitigating circumstances and defenses.”  

Chaired by Superior Court Judge Robert L. Ullmann, the committee includes representatives of the judiciary, the Attorney General, the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the Massachusetts Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and others with experience in grand jury proceedings.

The members of the committee are:

Honorable Robert L. Ullmann, Superior Court, Chair
Honorable Peter W. Agnes, Jr., Appeals Court
Janice Bassil, Esq., Bassil Klovee & Budreau, Boston
Assistant District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello, Berkshire County District Attorney’s Office
Honorable Judd J. Carhart, Appeals Court
Assistant Attorney General David E. Clayton, Office of the Attorney General
Assistant District Attorney Kevin J. Curtin, Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office
Randy Gioia, Esq., Committee for Public Counsel Services
Honorable Bertha Josephson, Superior Court (retired)
Clinical Professor Diane S. Juliar, Suffolk Law School
Assistant District Attorney Mary Lee, Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office
Kevin M. Mitchell, Esq., Law Office of Kevin M. Mitchell, Chelsea
Assistant District Attorney Donna Jalbert Patalano, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office  

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Supreme Judicial Court 

The SJC is the Commonwealth's highest appellate court.

Massachusetts Court System 

The Massachusetts court system consists of the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, the Executive Office of the Trial Court, the 7 Trial Court departments, the Massachusetts Probation Service, and the Office of Jury Commissioner.

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