In a recent trial in Brockton Superior Court, Attorney David J. Grimaldi obtained judicial immunity for six defense witnesses he subpoenaed to testify for his client. This extraordinary feat, never achieved before in Massachusetts history, fulfilled a long-desired goal among the state’s criminal defense attorneys and directly contributed to the acquittal of Attorney Grimaldi’s client at trial. (View Article)
For many years, prosecutors have possessed the exclusive power to grant immunity to witnesses that might otherwise refuse to testify out of concern of incriminating themselves. Once immunized, a witness can testify freely and without fear of prosecution for any matter discussed in their testimony. In essence, the witness gets “a free pass” on their own possible crimes in exchange for their testimony for the prosecution against the defendant.
Until recently, only prosecutors have been afforded the power to grant immunity to witnesses. Thus, if a defendant wanted to call a witness who may incriminate himself during testimony, the witness could simply “take the 5th” and refuse to testify for the defendant. In such cases, the jury would be deprived of the witness’s important testimony, and the prosecutor would gain an unfair advantage.
For years, defense attorneys and their clients have cried foul at the prosecutor’s one-sided ability to grant immunity to witnesses. This unequal allocation of power is prone to abuse by prosecutors and distorts the jury’s ability to determine the actual facts of each case.
In a case alleging Motor Vehicle Homicide tried in Brockton Superior Court, Attorney Grimaldi achieved what other defense attorneys have sought for generations: judicial immunity for defense witnesses. The remarkable story of how Attorney Grimaldi won judicial immunity was later described in a front-page article in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. After securing immunity for his witnesses in the trial court, a Single Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court denied the Commonwealth’s appeal of the landmark ruling, leaving Attorney Grimaldi’s victory firmly in place.
With his witnesses immunized from prosecution, Attorney Grimaldi called each of them to testify before the jury. The result was tremendous: the jury learned the real facts surrounding the alleged offense and returned a verdict of Not Guilty on the charge of Motor Vehicle Homicide.
Attorney Grimaldi’s success in obtaining judicial immunity is a testament to his constant readiness to fight for the rights and freedom of his clients.