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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
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my cousin is a probation officer at westborough ma courthouse.I

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my cousin is a probation officer at westborough ma courthouse.I was on probation with her coworker probation officer johnson,i asked the court to move my case out of this district before my case was disposed of there,before i was even put on probation.the judge denied the motion.he then stated that my case would be moved out of the district if i was put on probation in westborough.the other judge who was there denied that motion also.there is a lrule of criminal court preceedings that prohibits my case from being heard in a courthouse where i have family.What is this rule of court procedure?specific citing please
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking.

As your cousin is a probation officer and not a judge or attorney general in the court, there is no conflict of interest in the case in general. There is no law or MA general statute on this, it is no different than any complaint about the inability to get a fair trial because of some bias. You would have to file a motion to recuse and motion for change of venue upon proving that the relationship between your cousin and the judge is such that you could not receive a fair and impartial trial pursuant to MA G.L. c. 278, § 33E. It is up to you to bear the burden of proving that to the court by actual evidence.

You have a better case of arguing that you should not be put on probation with anyone in the same office that your cousin works in because that is a direct conflict of interest, but again there is no MA General Statute on this, it is just the appearance of impropriety.

A trial judge may order a change of venue if “there exists in the community where the prosecution is pending so great a prejudice against the defendant that he may not there obtain a fair and impartial trial.” Mass. R.Crim. P. 37(b)(1), 378 Mass. 914 (1979). A change of venue should be ordered only “with great caution and only after a solid foundation of fact has been first established.” Commonwealth v. McCowen, 458 Mass. 461, 476, 939 N.E.2d 735 (2010), quoting [460 Mass. 463] Commonwealth v. Clark, 432 Mass. 1, 6, 730 N.E.2d 872 (2000). A trial judge has substantial discretion in deciding whether to allow a motion for a change of venue; we review for abuse of discretion. See Commonwealth v. McCowen, supra at 475, 939 N.E.2d 735. . A change of venue is granted when it is impossible to obtain a fair and impartial jury due to pervasive bias in the community. See, e.g., Commonwealth v. Morales, 440 Mass. 536, 538-540, 800 N.E.2d 683 (2003); Commonwealth v. Colon-Cruz, 408 Mass. 533, 551, 562 N.E.2d 797 (1990); Mass. R.Crim. P. 37(b), 378 Mass. 914 (1979).

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