The MACDL Strike Force Committee Chair, John Amabile, recently represented a MACDL member who was subpoenaed to testify against a client charged with conspiring to violate the drug laws. The case stemmed from an alleged incident where a family member brought an eyeglass case to court for the Defendant, who was in custody, When the lawyer was on her way to speak to her client, a court officer handed her the glasses to bring to the lock up for her client.

The Commonwealth alleged that a controlled substance was secreted in the eyeglass case. The ADA subpoenaed the lawyer to testify as a fact witness against her former client. When the lawyer contacted MACDL, the strike force promptly moved to quash the subpoena arguing it was not issued with prior permission of the court as required by law. The Rules of Professional Conduct require prosecutors to obtain the court’s approval before subpoenaing defense lawyers to testify against their clients. The ADA then moved the court to approve issuance of a subpoena.

When a judge of the Taunton District Court granted the Commonwealth’s motion—and refused to allow the lawyer to assert her own Fifth Amendment rights in order to avoid testifying against her client—the Strike Force filed a petition under G.L. c. 211, § 3 to a single justice of the SJC. On April 11, Chief Justice Gants granted the petition and vacated the order issuing the subpoena. A copy of the decision is here.

MACDL congratulates Attorney John Amabile, Chair of our Strike Force, on winning a precedent-setting decision and thanks him for the enormous time he spent in providing our member with a first-class representation.

The Strike Force’s pro bono representation is available to MACDL members who face sanctions of any kind for zealously representing their clients.