Monday, March 14, 2011

SJC Case: Commonwealth v Eddington, Inventory Search

COMMONWEALTH vs. Gerald EDDINGTON (and six companion cases). [FN1]


November 2, 2010. - March 10, 2011.

Search and Seizure, Motor vehicle, Inventory, Impoundment of vehicle. Constitutional Law, Search and seizure. Motor Vehicle, Firearms. Firearms.


The defendants, Gerald Eddington and Jessica Cappas, were indicted on multiple firearm offenses, [FN2] and Eddington also was indicted on a charge of operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, in violation of G.L. c. 90, § 23. After an evidentiary hearing, a Superior Court judge allowed Eddington's motion to suppress [FN3] the firearm and ammunition recovered by police during an inventory search of an automobile driven by Eddington, in which Cappas was a passenger, on the ground that the firearm and ammunition were obtained as a result of an unlawful impoundment. [FN4], [FN5] A single justice of this court granted the Commonwealth leave to pursue interlocutory appeals from the judge's orders, see note 5, supra, in the Appeals Court, see Mass. R.Crim. P. 15(a)(2), as appearing in 422 Mass. 1501 (1996). The Appeals Court reversed the orders of suppression. Commonwealth v. Eddington, 76 Mass.App.Ct. 173, 179 (2010). We granted Eddington's application for further appellate review. Because we conclude that the impoundment was justified in the circumstances of this case, we reverse the allowance of the motion to suppress the firearm and ammunition.

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