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NISSENBAUM’S STANDARD SET OF
SUMMARIES OF LAW
209A Soup to Nuts
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3.0 Rules of Evidence
The very nature of c. 209A proceedings "is intended to be expeditious and as comfortable as it reasonably can be for a lay person to pursue." Szymkowski, ppa v. Szymkowski, 57 Mass. App. Ct. 284 ( 2003) citing Frizado v. Frizado, 420 Mass. 592, 598. "[T]he rules of evidence need not be followed, provided that there is fairness in what evidence is admitted and relied on . . . The process must be a practical one." Id. at 597-598.
In care and protection (G. L. c. 119, �� 24-26) and termination of parental rights (G. L. c. 210, � 3) - cases involving the care and custody of children, a judge, in the exercise of discretion, may admit in evidence and consider the factual content of such government reports, while rejecting the social worker’s conclusion. See Adoption of George, 27 Mass. App. Ct. 265, 269-275 (1989); Custody of Michel, 28 Mass. App. Ct. 260, 267 (1990); Adoption of Irene, 54 Mass. App. Ct. 613, 620 n.8 (1990). Those considerations also come to bear in c. 209A proceedings. Szymkowski, ppa v. Szymkowski, 57 Mass. App. Ct. 284 ( 2003).
Evidence that a victim has obtained an abuse prevention order against the defendant is admissible to demonstrate the existence of a hostile relationship, as the relationship may be relevant to the defendant's motive to kill. Comm. v. Eugene, 438 Mass. 343 (2003). See Commonwealth v. Sarourt Nom, 426 Mass. 152, 160 (1997); Commonwealth v. Martino, 412 Mass. 267, 280-281 & n.9 (1992); Commonwealth v. Gil, 393 Mass. 204, 215-216 (1984).