JP court has high acquittal rate for OUI cases

November 23, 2012
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The Jamaica Plain-based West Roxbury District Court at 445 Arborway has one of the highest acquittal rates in the state when it comes to jury-waived operating under the influence (OUI) trials, according to a special report commissioned by the state Supreme Judicial Court.

The report was commissioned after a Boston Globe investigation found high acquittal rates for jury-waived OUI trials and evidence of “judge-shopping,” which is an effort to find an advantageous judge.

The report found that West Roxbury Court had a 100 percent acquittal rate when an OUI defendant chose a trial in front of a judge instead of a jury.

The report looked at OUI cases between Jan. 1, 2008 and Sept. 30, 2011 and found that West Roxbury Court had 17 not-guilty verdicts during that time when the defendant chose a jury-waived trial. For 49 cases that had a jury trial during that time, the acquittal rate was 51 percent.

West Roxbury is one of six courts in the state that had a 100 percent acquittal for jury-waived trials. The 68 courts that the report surveyed averaged an 86 percent acquittal rate for jury-waved trials.

The court did not respond to a request for comment.

The report was issued in October and is available at www.mass.gov/courts/sjc/media/report-110112.html. The report said it is difficult to give an exact reason for the high-acquittal rate, but did give recommendations, such as revising the rules for waiving a jury trial. It suggested forcing defendants to choose to waive a jury trial earlier in the process to prevent “judge-shopping.”

 

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