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The Department of Correction’s policy announced in 2013 that visitors to correctional facilities would be subject to search by drug-detecting dogs was not inconsistent with the Department’s existing regulations but was not exempt from the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 31A, 1 et seq. Plaintiffs commenced this action to prevent the Department from implementing the new policy. The superior court denied Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction, and the policy was thereafter implemented. A second superior court judge entered judgment declaring that the Commissioner of Correction had the authority o establish the policy without having to comply with the procedural requirements of the APA. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded this case to the superior court for entry of a judgment declaring that the Department was required to, but did not, meet the requirements of the APA when it adopted this regulation but that the regulation, if properly adopted in conformance with the APA, would not conflict with existing Department regulations. View "Carey v. Commissioner of Correction" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the judgment of a single justice of the county court denying the Commonwealth’s petition for relief pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 from an interlocutory ruling of the Boston Municipal Court Department, holding that the trial judge’s decision to deny the Commonwealth’s motion was clearly erroneous. Defendant was charged with several crimes stemming from an incident during which several individuals assaulted and robbery the victim. During the court of discovery, the Commonwealth provided Defendant with a copy of a DVD containing surveillance video. But as trial approached, the Commonwealth was unable to locate its own copy of the DVD. The day before trial, the Commonwealth moved for an order requiring Defendant to return to the Commonwealth a copy of the DVD for the Commonwealth’s use at trial. The trial judge denied the motion. The Commonwealth then filed this petition, which the single justice denied without a hearing. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the Commonwealth’s use of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 was proper, and because the Commonwealth had no other remedy, the judge’s decision was clearly in error. View "Commonwealth v. Tahlil" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the orders of the superior court on Appellant’s motions to vacate his conviction and dismiss the underlying charge, for a so-called “Cotto order” pursuant to Commonwealth v. Cotto, 471 Mass. 97 (2015), for postconviction discovery, and for a new trial. In his motions, Appellant argued that the Commonwealth had not fully investigated misconduct at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute. The judge determined that some limited postconviction discovery was warranted and concluded that she could not fairly rule on Appellant’s motion for a new trial until that limited discovery was complete. The judge denied the remaining motions. The Supreme Judicial Court held that, on the basis of the record that was before her, the superior court judge’s rulings were correct. View "Commonwealth v. Escobar" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of possession with intent to distribute marijuana and reversed his conviction of unlawful cultivation of marijuana, holding that the jury instructions on unlawful cultivation were erroneous, and this error created a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice. In addition, the evidence was insufficient to support a finding that Defendant, a medical marijuana patient, exceeded the home cultivation limit. The Court further held (1) there was sufficient probable cause for the search warrant, and Defendant’s motion to dismiss also was properly denied; (2) even if the jury instruction on possession with intent to distribute was in error, it did not create a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice; and (3) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction of possession with intent to distribute beyond a reasonable doubt. View "Commonwealth v. Richardson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The absolute prohibition against civilian possession of stun guns under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, 131J violates the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Defendant was charged with possession of a stun gun, among other crimes. Defendant to dismissed that count of the complaint, arguing that section 131J’s criminal prohibition of the possession of stun guns by civilians violates the Second Amendment. The trial judge denied the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the district court’s order denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss and directed the judge to allow the motion, holding (1) stun guns are “arms” within the protection of the Second Amendment and therefore may be regulated but not absolutely banned; (2) consequently, the absolute prohibition in section 131J that bars all civilians from possessing or carrying stun guns, even in their home, violates the Second Amendment; and (3) section 131J in its current form is facially invalid. View "Ramirez v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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There was personal jurisdiction over Exxon Mobil Corporation with respect to the Attorney General’s investigation into whether Exxon knew, long before the general public, that emissions from fossil fuels contributed to climate change and whether the company sought to undermine the evidence of climate change in order to preserve its value as a company. Based on her authority under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 6, the Attorney General issued a civil investigative demand (CID) to Exxon Mobil Corporation seeking information and documents relating to Exxon’s knowledge of and activities related to climate change. Exxon moved to set aside or modify the CID, arguing that it was not subject to personal jurisdiction in Massachusetts, that the Attorney General should be disqualified for bias, that the CID violated Exxon’s statutory and constitutional rights, and that the case should be stayed pending a ruling on Exxon’s request for relief in federal court. A superior court denied the motion and allowed the Attorney General’s cross motion to compel Exxon to comply with the CID. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) there was personal jurisdiction over Exxon; and (2) the trial judge did not abuse her discretion in denying Exxon’s requests to set aside the CID, disqualify the Attorney General, and issue a stay. View "Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Attorney General" on Justia Law

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“Covered persons” as used in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 176I, 11 refers solely to natural persons who, as employees, receive insurance coverage for health care services under a group insurance plan, rather than employer entities. At issue in this case was whether, when an employer purchases insurance on behalf of its employees, the insurer owes tax on premiums paid by on or behalf of only those individuals who live in Massachusetts or whether the insurer owes tax on all premiums received from the Massachusetts-based employer regardless of where its individual employees reside. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the Appellate Tax Board, holding that the term “covered persons” in section 11 refers to the natural person receiving health care coverage under a preferred provider arrangement policy, including his or her spouse and additional dependents, not the employer-organization with whom the insurer contracts. View "Dental Service of Massachusetts, Inc. v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law, Tax Law

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Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 119, 72A permits a juvenile court judge to transfer lesser included offenses when supported by probable cause even where lesser included offenses are not expressly charged. In 2014, juvenile delinquency complaints were issued against Defendant for the crime of rape of a child with force for incidents that occurred when Defendant was sixteen years old. Because Defendant was not “apprehended” until after his nineteenth birthday, the juvenile court judge was faced with discharging Defendant or transferring the charges to adult court. The judge dismissed the offenses charged for lack of probable cause but transferred the lesser included offenses of statutory rape. Defendant filed a petition for relief pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3. The Supreme Judicial Court held that because the judge in this case did not inform Defendant of her probable cause rulings on the offenses charged or the lesser included offenses until her decision on the transfer itself, Defendant was not given a meaningful opportunity to present evidence and argument why discharge rather than transfer of the statutory rape charges was consistent with protection of the public. Therefore, Defendant was entitled to reopen the transfer hearing in order to present such evidence and argument. View "J.H. v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the resentencing judge, holding that Defendant’s resentencing scheme was neither illegal nor unconstitutional. Defendant was convicted of stalking, harassment, two counts of restraining order violations, and two counts of perjury. While Defendant was serving his stalking sentence, that conviction was vacated for insufficiency of the evidence. Defendant was then resentenced on the remaining convictions. On appeal, Defendant argued that the structure of his resentencing scheme was illegal. The Appeals Court dismissed Defendant’s case as moot. The Supreme Court granted further appellate review and affirmed the decision of the resentencing judge, holding that Defendant’s resentencing scheme was both legal and constitutional. View "Commonwealth v. Walters" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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At issue was the definition of “debt collector” under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93, 24, specifically its application to the statute’s licensing requirement. Plaintiffs individually filed suit against Defendant, alleging unlicensed debt collection, violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, and unjust enrichment. A superior court judge consolidated the cases and certified them as a class action. The judge then concluded (1) Defendant violated Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93, 24A because it operated as a debt collector without a license; and (2) Defendant met the exemption from liability in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 3 because the division of banks of the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation had permitted Defendant to operate without a license. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding that Defendant was not a debt collector under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93, 24 because neither of the statute’s two separate definitions of “debt collector” applied to Defendant. View "Dorrian v. LVNV Funding, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Consumer Law