In Commonwealth v. Humphries, the SJC affirmed defendant’s convictions of assault by means of a dangerous weapon, carrying a firearm without a license, and related offenses, based on evidence of an altercation in which Humphries’ alleged joint venturer fired a gun.  At issue was “whether a defendant’s burden of producing evidence of a license to carry a firearm, as provided by statute , applies where a defendant must rely on the existence of a license held by a coventurer to establish his own defense.” Ordinarily, where a lone defendant charged with a possessory firearms offense raises the affirmative defense that he has a license to carry, it is the defendant’s burden to produce “‘some evidence’” of licensure, before the burden shifts to the Commonwealth to prove the absence of a license beyond a reasonable doubt. The reason for the defendant having the initial burden of production in such a case is that “the existence of the license is peculiarly within the knowledge of the defendant.” That rationale is not present in circumstances where, as here, the evidence showed that it was the coventurer, not the defendant, who possessed the gun.  In such an instance, it would be unfair to impose the burden of production on the defendant, because “he would be in no better position than the prosecutor to ascertain whether a license had been issued to the person who allegedly possessed the firearm.” Therefore, the SJC found that the affirmative defense of license, in the ordinary sense, was inapplicable to this case; Humphries did “not bear the burden of producing evidence that his coventurer was licensed to possess a firearm before the burden shifted to the Commonwealth.”  Regardless,  Humphries was still required, under Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure to announce before trial that he intended to challenge the Commonwealth to produce evidence that the joint venturer was licensed.   Under Rule 14, the “failure to provide notice ¼ ‘renders the claim of license unavailable as a defense.’”  That is what happened in this case; Humphries’ “failure to comply with the notice requirement was fatal to his claim.”