Commonwealth v. VigianiAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Judicial Court Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 233, 20, Fourth - which applies to the testimony of a parent of minor child against the other in criminal, delinquency, and youthful offender proceedings where the victim is not a family member and does not reside in the household - does not disqualify parents from being called as witnesses for the defense to testify at an evidentiary hearing for a motion to suppress.
Juvenile was indicted as a youthful offender on the charge of carrying a firearm without a license. Before trial, Juvenile moved to suppress certain statements he made to the police and sought to call his mother to testify at the evidentiary hearing. The Commonwealth sought to prohibit the juvenile's mother from testifying based on section 20, Fourth. The judge denied the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) section 20, Fourth prevents the prosecution from calling the child's parents to testify for the Commonwealth in youthful offender proceedings where the victim is not a family member and does not reside in the household; but (2) section 20, Fourth allows the child to call his or her parents as witnesses for the defense and then the Commonwealth to cross-examine them.