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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the Court denying Petitioner’s petition pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse her discretion in denying relief. Petitioner was convicted of rape of a child and indecent assault and battery on a child under fourteen years of age. Petitioner later filed his Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 petition alleging that the trial court ignored his motion to vacate, set aside, or correct sentence that he claimed to have previously filed. The single justice denied the petition without a hearing. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that because it was unclear from the record whether the motion was actually ever received by and filed in the trial court Petitioner was not entitled to relief. View "Santos v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the Court denying Petitioner’s petition pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse his discretion in denying relief. In his petition, Petitioner sought relief from an original divorce judgment as well as a modification to that judgment. The single justice denied the petition without a hearing. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) to the extent that Petitioner continued to seek a stay to prevent his former wife’s trip to India with the parties’ children, the issue was now moot; and (2) to the extent Petitioner sought to preclude any and all future travel by seeking relief from the divorce judgment and the ensuing modification, Petitioner’s remedy did not lie with this Court. View "Panda v. Panda" on Justia Law

Posted in: Family Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the Court denying Petitioner’s petition pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse his discretion in denying relief. In 1974, Petitioner was convicted of several crimes in two different cases. In 2014, Petitioner filed a motion for a new trial in each of the two cases. The trial court denied the motions, and the Appeals Court affirmed. Petitioner then filed this petition raising the same issues that he had raised in the Appeals Court. The single justice denied the petition without a hearing. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Petitioner was not entitled to review under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3. View "McCants v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the Court denying Petitioner’s petition pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse his discretion in denying relief. In 2016, Petitioner pleaded guilty to drug-related crimes. Petitioner subsequently filed motions to withdraw his guilty pleas and for release from unlawful restraint, both of which were denied. Petitioner then filed this petition alleging that he had not received a fair hearing in the trial court on his motion for release from unlawful restraint and that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel. The single justice denied the petition without a hearing. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that this case did not present the type of exceptional circumstance that requires the exercise of the Court’s extraordinary power of general superintendence pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3. View "Perez-Acevedo v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order of the trial judge granting a class-wide preliminary injunction concerning the Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) operation of a shelter program, holding that, based on the preliminary record, Plaintiffs had not shown a likelihood of succeeding on their claim that the challenged policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by discriminating on the basis of disability. Plaintiffs were among the approximately 3,500 people currently served by the emergency assistance (EA) program. Plaintiffs sought a class-wide preliminary injunction directing DHCD to use motels as EA replacements. The judge allowed the motion in part and ordered that DHCD treat motels and hotels as available placements when implementing approved ADA accommodation requests in the EA program. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order of preliminary injunction and remanded for further proceedings, holding the judge erred in concluding (1) any delay in providing an ADA accommodation is a per se violation of law, and (2) DHCD likely violated ADA regulations that prohibit public entities from providing services or siting facilities in a manner that has the effect of discriminating on the basis of disability. View "Garcia v. Department of Housing & Community Development" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Rights

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At issue was the correct interpretation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 279, 25(a), which requires that a “habitual criminal” - or an individual who has been convicted of a felony and has two prior convictions resulting in state or federal prison sentences of three years or more - be sentenced to the maximum term provided by law on the underlying conviction. Defendant was indictment of a variety of charges. All but two of the indictments carried sentencing enhancements under 25(a). The judge allowed Defendant’s motion to dismiss the section 25(a) sentence enhancement charges, concluding that Defendant’s predicate convictions represented a single “incident” under section 25(a). The Supreme Judicial Court overruled in part Commonwealth v. Pelletier, 449 Mass. 392, 395-396 (2007), holding (1) although the predicate convictions must arise from separate incidents or episodes, the offenses need not be separately prosecuted; and (2) Mass. R. Crim. P. 15(a)(1) and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 28E grant the Commonwealth a right to appeal from the dismissal of the sentence enhancement portion of an indictment. View "Commonwealth v. Ruiz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held that the widespread evidence tampering of chemist Sonja Farak at the State Laboratory Institute in Amherst at the campus of the University of Massachusetts compromised the integrity of thousands of drug convictions and that her misconduct, compounded by prosecutorial misconduct, requires that the Court exercise its superintendence authority and vacate and dismiss all criminal convictions tainted by governmental wrongdoing. Farak stole and used for her own use drugs submitted to the lab for testing and consumed drug “standards” required for testing. Members of the Attorney General’s office deceptively withheld exculpatory evidence on the matter. Petitioners sought dismissal of thousands of cases tainted by governmental wrongdoing. The Supreme Judicial Court held that the class of “Farak defendants” includes all defendants who were found guilty of a drug charge where Farak signed the certificate of analysis, the conviction was based on methamphetamine and the drugs were tested during Farak’s tenure at the Amherst lab, or the drugs were tested at the Amherst lab during a certain period regardless of who signed the certificate of analysis. The Court also recommended that the standing advisory committee on the rules of criminal procedure propose amendments to Rule 14 of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure to include a Brady checklist and any other beneficial modifications. View "Committee for Public Counsel Services v. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of murder in the first degree, as a joint venturer, holding that none of the arguments Defendant raised on appeal warranted reversal of his convictions. During trial, the Commonwealth proceeded on a theory of felony-murder, with armed home invasion and attempted armed robbery as the predicate felonies. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and declined to exercise its authority to grant relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E, holding (1) the evidence was sufficient to support the convictions; (2) the trial judge did not abuse her discretion in allowing cell site location information evidence; (3) the judge did not err when she did not instruct the jury that they were allowed to reach factually inconsistent verdicts; and (4) this Court declines to abolish the common-law doctrine of felony-murder. View "Commonwealth v. Bin" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the trial court’s order suppressing statements that Defendant made during custodial interrogations and suppressing the results of the forensic testing of Defendant’s bloodstained clothing, holding (1) a remand was necessary to determine whether the suppression of Defendant’s statements was proper; and (2) the police lawfully seized Defendant’s clothing incident to arrest and did not need a separate warrant to test the clothing for the presence of human blood. Defendant was charged with murder in the first degree in connection with the beating death of a woman who had obtained a restraining order against him. The motion judge determined that Defendant was too intoxicated during custodial interviews to make a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary Miranda waiver. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding (1) a remand was necessary for the trial judge to make findings and credibility determinations regarding all pertinent evidence in light of this Court’s de novo assessment of the recording of Defendant’s second custodial interview; and (2) the order suppressing the results of the forensic testing of Defendant’s clothing must be reversed. View "Commonwealth v. Tremblay" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the superior court judge confirming an arbitration award, holding that the award did not violate public policy under the circumstances of this case. Employee, a police officer, was terminated from his position as a police officer in the Pittsfield police department for making false statements. Thereafter, Employee’s union (Union) filed a grievance under a collective bargaining agreement between the Union and the City of Pittsfield. An arbitrator found that there was not just cause for termination and reinstated Employee. The City commenced an action pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 150C, 11 to vacate the arbitrator’s award, arguing that it was contrary to public policy. A superior court judge confirmed the arbitration award. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that where the arbitrator found that Employee’s statements were not intentionally false and did not lead to a wrongful arrest of prosecution or result in any deprivation of liberty or denial of civil rights, the arbitrator’s award of reinstatement did not violate public policy. View "City of Pittsfield v. Local 447 International Brotherhood of Police Officers" on Justia Law