Justia Massachusetts Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

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After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of possessing child pornography. Defendant appealed, arguing that the district court erred in denying his motion to suppress computer evidence obtained pursuant to a search warrant issued for the the place searched because the police needed more information to link Defendant to the place searched and the items seized. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that there was a substantial basis from which to conclude that the evidence of downloading and sharing child pornography via the Internet was probably present at the place to be searched. View "Commonwealth v. Martinez" on Justia Law

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Bahig Bishay brought an action bringing various claims arising from Plaintiff’s eviction from his home. Bishay named as defendants National Investigations, Inc. and its principals (collectively, National), Harvard 45 Associates, LLC and its principals (collectively, Harvard), and Allied Finance Adjusters Conference, Inc. (Allied). Allied’s motion to dismiss was allowed. Also allowed was Harvard’s motion for summary judgment as to both the claims against it and a counterclaim it asserted against Bishay. Thereafter, Bishay and National (collectively, Petitioners) settled their dispute and moved for entry of final judgment. The motion was denied. Petitioners then filed a petition seeking relief in the nature of mandamus and requesting that the clerk of the superior court be ordered to enter final judgment as Petitioners proposed. A single justice denied relief without a hearing. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the single justice neither erred nor abused her discretion by denying extraordinary relief, as Petitioners had other remedies available to them. View "Bishay v. Clerk of the Superior Court in Norfolk County" on Justia Law

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In 1971, the City of Quincy, as trustee of the Adams Temple and School Fund (Adams Fund), sought a decree authorizing it to execute a proposed fifty-year lease of a building and parking lot of the Adams Academy that it had negotiated with the Quincy Historical Society (Society). In 1972, a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court decreed that the City was authorized to execute the proposed lease. In 2014, the successor trustee of the Adams Fund (Plaintiff) filed a complaint seeking rescission of the lease and money damages, arguing that the City violated its fiduciary duty to the Woodward School for Girls, Inc., the sole income beneficiary of the Adams Fund, by executing the lease. Defendants, the City and the Society, moved for summary judgment, arguing that they were entitled to judgment under res judicata. The single justice allowed Defendants’ motion. Plaintiff appealed, contending that he should not be precluded by res judicata from obtaining relief because neither he nor the Woodward School was a party to the 1972 equity proceeding. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff was precluded by res judicata from prevailing on his challenge to the execution of the lease. View "DeGiacomo v. City of Quincy" on Justia Law

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Petitioner was the defendant in a summary process action in the Housing Court. In 1993, the Appeals Court affirmed. In the years since then, Petitioner repeatedly sought to challenge the foreclosure that led to the summary process action, without success. In 2015, Petitioner filed a motion seeking to vacate the Appeals Court’s 1993 decision. The Appeals Court denied relief. Petitioner subsequently filed a petition pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 in the county court. A single justice denied the petition. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Petitioner failed to prosecute her appeal, and therefore, her appeal could be dismissed on this basis alone; and (2) Petitioner’s claims failed on the merits. View "Eresian v. Merrill Lynch Credit Corp." on Justia Law

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The United States Court of Appeal for the First Circuit certified two questions of state law to the Massachusetts Supreme Court. The questions arose in the context of a bankruptcy proceeding, and concerned the power and effect of an affidavit of an attorney, executed pursuant to G.L. c. 183 section 5B, in relation to a mortgage containing a defective certificate of acknowledgement. The first question centered on whether, pursuant to the statute, a recorded mortgage omitting the name of the mortgagor, a material defect of that mortgage. The second question centered on whether the recording of that allegedly defective mortgages provides constructive notice of the mortgage to a bona fide purchaser, either independently or in combination with the mortgage. The Massachusetts Supreme Court answered both questions "yes." View "Bank of America, N.A. v. Casey" on Justia Law

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The Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) filed a complaint for summary process in the Housing Court to establish its right to possession of the Rego house, which Fannie Mae purchased at a foreclosure sale. The Regos argued that the foreclosure sale conducted by GMAC, which held the mortgage, was void because GMAC's attorneys had not been authorized by a prior writing to undertake the actions set forth in G. L. 244, 14. They also asserted an equitable defense and counterclaims. The judge granted Fannie Mae summary judgment "as to possession only," and scheduled a bench trial on the counterclaims, but later dismissed the counterclaims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court vacated. The foreclosure suffered no defect on the asserted ground that GMAC failed to provide such authorization to its attorneys, but the Housing Court has limited authorization to entertain counterclaims and an equitable defense to the foreclosure sale in the summary process action. View "Fed. Nat'l Mortgage Ass'n v. Rego" on Justia Law

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B.V.G., a young woman with intellectual disabilities, has been in the sole custody of her father for many years. He was named her temporary guardian when B.V.G. reached age 18. Her maternal grandfather sought to intervene in B.V.G.'s father's permanent guardianship proceedings, asserting that his relationship with B.V.G. has been restricted by her father, that B.V.G. has indicated expressly her desire to communicate with him and has sought contact with him via social media, and that such a relationship is in B.V.G.'s best interests. Concluding that the grandfather lacked standing because he was not an "interested person" within the meaning of G.L. 190B, 5-306(c), a judge denied the motion. The Appeals Court affirmed the denial, on different grounds. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed, first holding that the grandfather had standing. The statute is intended to provide a means by which an individual interested in the welfare of an incapacitated person can advocate on behalf of that person and the Massachusetts implementation of the Uniform Probate Code encourages a broad right of advocacy in favor of an incapacitated person's protected interest in a limited guardianship. Once a judge has concluded that a proposed intervener is an "interested person," nothing more is required to establish that person's entitlement to intervene. View "Guardianship of B.V.G." on Justia Law

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Appellant filed a complaint against Harvard University alleging employment discrimination. The superior court granted Harvard’s motion to dismiss the complaint and denied Appellant’s subsequent attempts to reinstate the case. Appellant appealed and, while his appeal was pending, filed a motion to stay the appeal so that he could file a new complaint and seek additional discovery in the underlying action. A single justice of the Appeals Court denied the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse her discretion in denying Appellant’s request for relief. View "Myrick v. Harvard University" on Justia Law

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Victoria was born in Mexico in 1997 and later moved to Texas. The Office of Refugee Resettlement designated Victoria as an unaccompanied refugee minor and assigned her for placement in Massachusetts. Three weeks after Victoria’s arrival in Massachusetts, the Department of Children and Families filed a petition for custody of Victoria in the Probate and Family Court. The probate and family court judge concluded that Massachusetts lacked child custody jurisdiction under the Massachusetts Child Custody Jurisdiction Act but that jurisdiction was proper where Massachusetts was an “appropriate court” under federal law governing custody and resettlement of unaccompanied refugee minors. The judge stayed further custody proceedings pending resolution of questions regarding jurisdiction. The Supreme Judicial Court held that Massachusetts has jurisdiction over the custody proceeding under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 209B, 2(a)(2) because (1) no other state has home state jurisdiction, and (2) it is in the best interest of Victoria that a Massachusetts court assume jurisdiction of the custody proceeding. View "In re Custody of Victoria" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff commenced an action alleging various constitutional violations with respect to the presidential ballot. Along with his complaint, Plaintiff filed an affidavit of indigence pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws chapter 261, 27B requesting a waiver of normal court fees and litigation costs. In his affidavit, Plaintiff claimed indigence on the ground that he received public assistance in the form of veterans’ benefits. The judge concluded that Plaintiff was not indigent because he had the ability to pay the normal and extra fees and costs. At issue on appeal was whether Plaintiff, who received federal veterans’ benefits and a Massachusetts property tax abatement that were not dependent on his economic circumstances, was considered indigent under Mass. Gen. Laws chapter 261, 27A and therefore entitled to a waiver despite having ample financial resources to pay court fees and costs. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judge’s decision denying Plaintiff’s request for a waiver of normal and extra court fees and litigation costs, holding that the statute was not intended to provide for a waiver under the circumstances of this case. View "Reade v. Sec’y of Commonwealth" on Justia Law