NORTH ATTLEBORO — A lawyer arguing in Attleboro District Court says police should be required to use their department-issued smartphones to record the statements of criminal suspects they have arrested.
The lawyer, James Reidy of West Roxbury, who represents a suspect in a North Attleboro drive-by shooting, made the argument during a hearing Tuesday to ask a judge to throw out statements his client allegedly made to police.
Reidy said his argument is an extension of a landmark state Supreme Judicial Court ruling in 2004. That ruling requires police to electronically record suspects in custody at the police station or “place of detention.”
When the police do not record statements made during a custodial interrogation, the defendant can request the judge instruct the jury that the state’s highest court prefers that confessions be recorded whenever practical.
During the hearing Tuesday, Reidy argued that courts should extend that requirement to when suspects have been arrested and handcuffed and make statements to police who have department-issued smartphones.
The hearing occurred a day after the 10th anniversary of Apple founder Steve Jobs’ announcement of the creation of the popular iPhone.
Reidy said smartphones were not used prevalently at the time the SJC made its ruling and conceded there is no available case law. But, he said the same logic of the ruling applies to his client’s case.
Some larger police departments in the country use body cameras that record audio and videotape events. In Massachusetts, Boston police are using them in a pilot program and some communities have tested or fully implemented them.
Reidy represents 21-year-old Kevin Baldwin of Norfolk, who is the alleged getaway driver in a June 22 drive-by shooting. No one inside the home was injured, according to police.
The defense lawyer wants a judge to throw out statements Baldwin allegedly made to North Attleboro police when he was arrested on a warrant outside his home on July 13.
Baldwin, who allegedly supplied the shotgun used in the drive-by shooting, told police he cut it up after the incident and threw it in a Rehoboth swamp, North Attleboro Detective Daniel Arrighi testified.
Baldwin, who has pleaded innocent to related charges, allegedly told police he would show police where he disposed of the gun if accompanied by his lawyer, then he stopped talking, Arrighi said.
The gun was never found, but police say they recovered more than a dozen shotgun shells from Baldwin’s home.
Reidy argued that the alleged statements were made after his client was handcuffed and in custody in a cruiser where he could have been recorded by a smartphone.
If police were required by law to record such statements by suspects, Reidy said after the hearing, “Nobody can dispute what they said.”
Judge Daniel O’Shea gave Reidy and prosecutors until later this month to submit written legal arguments in the case.
Baldwin, who is being held in jail on bail, is due back in court Feb. 9.