by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the superior court judge’s order vacating the district court judge’s Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 58A (58A) pretrial detention order of David Barnes and affirmed the denial of William Scione’s petition for extraordinary relief, holding that Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 275, 23A (23A) does not qualify as a predicate offense under section 58A in its current form and that Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, 102A (102A) qualified in this case. Barnes was charged with violating section 23A, and Scione was charged with violating section 102A. In both cases, the Commonwealth moved to detain the defendants pursuant to section 58A, the pretrial detention statute. The Commonwealth’s motions were allowed and the defendants were ordered held. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the superior court judge’s order vacating the pretrial detention order of Barnes and affirmed the denial of Scione’s petition for extraordinary relief, holding (1) rape aggravated by age difference, section 23A, does not qualify as a predicate offense under section 58A; and (2) use of an incendiary device in violation of section 102A qualifies as a predicate offense under section 58A. View "Scione v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for unlawful possession of drugs found within a locked glove compartment, holding that the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to suppress and that Defendant was not deprived of the effective assistance of counsel. In denying Defendant’s motion to suppress the motion judge found that the police had probable cause to arrest Defendant for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of marijuana and that the search of the vehicle was justified as an inventory search. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the trial judge was warranted in finding that police had probable cause to believe that Defendant had operated a motor vehicle while impaired; and (2) while the motion judge’s decision to deny the motion to suppress was improper on the grounds that the police conducted a lawful inventory search, the officers had authority to search the vehicle, pursuant to the automobile exception, for evidence pertaining to the offense of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. View "Commonwealth v. Davis" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the denial of Defendant’s motion for release from unlawful confinement and for a new sentencing hearing, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the judge did not abuse his discretion in imposing a sentence of incarceration following Defendant’s repeated addiction-related violations of probation over a period of several years. Defendant requested the sentence in order to participate in a secure residential drug treatment program. Several months after serving her sentence, however, Defendant sought release from what she termed as an unlawful restraint, as well as a new sentencing hearing. The motion was denied. On appeal, Defendant argued that, in setting the length of Defendant's sentence, the judge abused his discretion when he took into account the time requirements of the rehabilitative program Defendant wished to enter. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that there was no abuse his discretion in these limited circumstances. View "Commonwealth v. Plasse" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of murder in the first degree on a theory of deliberate premeditation and declined to grant extraordinary relief pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E, holding that none of Defendant’s arguments on appeal warranted reversal of his convictions. Specifically, the Court held (1) the trial court did not err in denying Defendant’s motion to dismiss the indictment; (2) the judge did not improperly curtail Defendant’s cross-examination of two witnesses; (3) the motion judge did not abuse his discretion in denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial; and (4) there was no basis to set aside or reduce the verdict of murder in the first degree. View "Commonwealth v. Hernandez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court held that, to the extent a surviving spouse’s shares of a deceased spouse’s estate exceeds $25,000, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 191, 15, the Commonwealth’s elective share statute, reduces his or her interest in the real property from outright ownership to a life estate. The dispute here centered on the nature of a surviving spouse’s interest in a deceased spouse’s real property where the surviving spouse’s shares of the decedent’s personal and real property together exceeded $25,000 in value. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) where a surviving spouse elects to waive the provisions of a deceased spouse’s will in accordance with section 15 and the decedent left issue, the surviving spouse is entitled to one-third of the decedent’s personal property and one-third of the decedent’s real property; (2) the above is subject to the limitation that if the surviving spouse’s shares of the real and property property, taken together, exceed $25,000 in value, then the surviving spouse takes $25,000 absolutely and a life estate in any remaining real property; and (3) further, any remaining personal property must be held in trust for the duration of the surviving spouse’s life with the surviving spouse entitled to the income therefrom. View "Ciani v. MacGrath" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the order of the trial judge allowing Defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, holding (1) Massachusetts courts have personal jurisdiction over nonresident individuals who are served with process while intentionally, knowingly, and voluntarily in Massachusetts; and (2) Defendants in this case were served under these circumstances. Plaintiff, a New Jersey resident, sued Defendants, New Hampshire residents, in superior court. Plaintiff alleged negligence arising out of an incident that occurred in Florida. Defendants with served with in-hand process in Worcester. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The superior court allowed the motion, concluding that personal service in Massachusetts does not confer jurisdiction on the court. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that personal jurisdiction over Defendants comported with both State law and due process because Defendants were served while intentionally, knowingly, and voluntarily in Massachusetts. View "Roch v. Mollica" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the superior court’s dismissal of employees’ (Employees) putative class action lawsuit brought against the corporate officers (Officers) of a ISIS Parenting, Inc. (Company), holding that the superior court judge properly granted the Officers’ motion to dismiss. After the Company abruptly ceased operations and terminated its entire workforce, the Employees brought a class action lawsuit against the Company in federal court alleging a violation of the Federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, 29 U.S.C. 2101-2109 (WARN Act). After receiving a nearly $2 million default judgment, the Employees brought a putative class action lawsuit against the Officers in state court under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 148 (Wage Act), alleging (1) the WARN Act damages constituted wrongfully withheld “earned wages” for which the Officers were liable; and (2) the Officers committed a breach of fiduciary duties owed to the Company by allowing the Company to violate the WARN Act. The superior court granted the Officers’ motion to dismiss. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the Employees’ complaint was properly dismissed because (1) WARN Act damages are not “earned wages” under the Wage Act; and (2) the Employees did not assert a viable claim for breach of fiduciary duties. View "Calixto v. Coughlin" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the court denying Petitioner’s petition for extraordinary relief pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that where Petitioner had the opportunity to obtain review of an adverse judgment in an appeal, the single justice did not commit a clear error of law or abuse her discretion in denying relief. Petitioner was divorced from Respondent pursuant to a judgment of divorce nisi. Thereafter, Respondent filed a complaint for modification of child support followed by a motion to set aside the property settlement in the divorce judgment. A judge allowed both requests for relief. Petitioner later sought extraordinary relief, which the single justice denied. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Petitioner failed to demonstrate the absence or inadequacy of alternative means of redress. View "Aktas v. Aktas" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the court denying Petitioner’s petition for equitable relief, holding that the relief sought by Petitioner was not available. Petitioner was convicted of armed robbery and escape. His consecutive committed sentences were to be served “from and after” sentences he was serving in federal prison in connection with offenses committed in the District of Columbia. After Petitioner was granted parole from federal prison he refused to be released because he did not want to return to Massachusetts to serve his “from and after” sentences. Although Petitioner had not yet begun serving his Massachusetts sentences, his petition sought an order requiring that he be considered for parole. The single justice denied the petition. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the relief Petitioner sought was not available because, among other things, he was not currently serving his Massachusetts sentences. View "Murray v. Massachusetts Parole Board" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the court allowing the Commonwealth’s petition for relief pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 in this discovery dispute, holding that relief was properly granted. Defendant was charged with several offenses, and a judge in that court granted in part his motion for discovery from the Commonwealth. In its petition, the Commonwealth disputed a portion of that order that required the prosecutor to produce certain exculpatory information from the personnel files of the Boston Police Department and its internal affairs division. The single justice allowed the petition. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the single justice properly vacated the portion of the discovery order to the extent that it required the prosecutor to look through the internal affairs division file and/or other personnel files of the police department where the materials were not in the possession, custody, or control of the Commonwealth. View "Commonwealth v. Cruz" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law