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To sustain a conviction of unlawful possession of a loaded firearm under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 269, 10(n) the Commonwealth must prove that a defendant knew the firearm he or she possessed was loaded. Defendant was convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of a loaded firearm. The Appeals Court vacated Defendant’s conviction for possession of a loaded firearm, concluding that the Commonwealth was required to, but did not, prove Defendant’s knowledge that the firearm was loaded. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed with the Appeals Court, holding (1) the Commonwealth presented no evidence that could allow a rational trier of fact to find beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant knew the firearm was loaded, and therefore, Defendant’s conviction for possession of a loaded firearm without a license could not stand; and (2) the Commonwealth’s closing argument did not create a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice, and therefore, Defendant’s conviction for possession of a firearm without a license was not erroneous. View "Commonwealth v. Brown" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the superior court judge’s conclusion that Defendant had violated his probation by committing child enticement, holding that Defendant’s constitutional right to present a defense was not violated and that the exclusion of certain statements did not create a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice. On appeal, Defendant contended that the judge’s sua sponte ruling excluding the admission of certain evidence as violative of the psychotherapist-patient privilege violated his constitutional right to present a defense. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the judge’s ruling that the psychotherapist-patient privilege applied to the evidence at issue was erroneous because there was no evidence that the privilege would have been applicable under the circumstances; but (2) the excluded evidence was of minimal probative value, and the Commonwealth presented overwhelming evidence that Defendant committed the crime of child enticement. View "Commonwealth v. Pickering" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for murder in the first degree and other offenses, affirmed the trial judge’s order denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial, and declined to reduce or set aside Defendant’s convictions under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E. During trial, the defense attorney failed to adhere to the judge’s courtroom rules, made inappropriate comments in the presence of the jury, and interrupted the judge on multiple occasions. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the judge’s admonishments to defense counsel were well within the judge’s authority, and the judge’s jury instructions mitigated any potential prejudice that might have resulted from the jury observing the disputes; (2) the reconstruction of a missing portion of the record was proper and adequate; (3) there was no evidentiary error; and (4) any purported error in the Commonwealth’s closing statement was not prejudicial. Further, the Court declined to exercise its section 33E power based on friction generated as a result of the judge having to rein in defense counsel’s inappropriate courtroom conduct. View "Commonwealth v. Imbert" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions for murder in the first degree and other offenses, affirmed the trial judge’s order denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial, and declined to reduce or set aside Defendant’s convictions under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E. During trial, the defense attorney failed to adhere to the judge’s courtroom rules, made inappropriate comments in the presence of the jury, and interrupted the judge on multiple occasions. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the judge’s admonishments to defense counsel were well within the judge’s authority, and the judge’s jury instructions mitigated any potential prejudice that might have resulted from the jury observing the disputes; (2) the reconstruction of a missing portion of the record was proper and adequate; (3) there was no evidentiary error; and (4) any purported error in the Commonwealth’s closing statement was not prejudicial. Further, the Court declined to exercise its section 33E power based on friction generated as a result of the judge having to rein in defense counsel’s inappropriate courtroom conduct. View "Commonwealth v. Imbert" on Justia Law

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The Appellate Division erred in summarily dismissing F.C.’s appeal from a terminated commitment and treatment order as moot in reliance on Matter of N.L., 476 Mass. 632, 633 (2017). Following F.C.’s involuntary hospitalization, McLean Hospital filed a petition for F.C.'s commitment. F.C. was involuntarily committed and treated after a hearing. F.C. appealed, and his appeal was staying pending the decision in Matter of N.L. As the appeal was pending, F.C. was discharged from the facility. Citing Matter of N.L., the Appellate Division summarily dismissed the appeal as moot. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the Appellate Division’s order and remanded for determination of the appeal on its merits, holding that appeals from expired or terminated commitment and treatment orders under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123, 7, 8, and 8B should not be dismissed as moot where the parties have a continuing interest in the case. View "In re F.C." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for murder in the first degree on the theories of deliberate premeditation and extreme atrocity or cruelty. The Court held that the trial judge did not err by (1) allowing evidence of Defendant’s prior bad act; (2) permitting the prosecutor to comment in her closing argument on omissions in Defendant’s statement to a police officer; (3) failing to provide sua sponte a jury instruction addressing the omissions; and ($) providing a consciousness of guilt instruction. Further, the Court declined to exercise its authority under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E to reduce or set aside the verdict of murder int he first degree. View "Commonwealth v. Almeida" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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For the same reasons stated in Rental Prop. Mgmt. Servs. v. Hatcher, 479 Mass. __ (2018), also decided today, the Supreme Judicial Court held that Fred Basile, a property manager, had no standing to bring a summary process action in his own name when he was neither the owner nor the lessor of the property. Basile brought this summary process action in the name of his sole proprietorship seeking to evict a tenant from a property for which Basile was neither the owner nor the lessor. The tenant asserted counterclaims for the unauthorized practice of law and violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A. The trial judge enjoined Basile from commencing summary process actions such as the one in this case but entered judgment in favor of Basile on the chapter 93A counterclaims. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Basile had no standing to bring the summary process action; (2) to the extent Basile was acting as the agent of the property owner, he engaged in the unauthorized practice of law by signing and filing the complaint because he was not an attorney; and (3) Basile’s conduct on its own did not constitute an unfair or deceptive practice in violation of chapter 93A. View "Ahmed-Kagzi v. Williams" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of murder in the first degree, holding that the seating of a certain juror did not violate Defendant's right to a fair and impartial jury. On appeal, Defendant argued that the seating of an alleged biased juror violated his right to a fair and impartial jury under the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution and article 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. The Supreme Judicial Court disagreed, holding (1) the trial judge conducted a sufficient colloquy with the juror to determine that he would not be a biased juror; and (2) the defense that the Commonwealth did not meet its burden of proof was without merit, and this Court declines to reduce the degree of guilt or order a new trial under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E. View "Commonwealth v. Lee" on Justia Law

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Fred Basile, a property manager, had no standing to bring a summary process action in the name of his sole proprietorship seeking to evict a tenant from a property for which Basile was neither the owner nor the lessor. To the extent that Basile was acting on behalf of the property’s true owner when he filed the complaint, his conduct constituted the unauthorized practice of law because Basile was not an attorney. The Supreme Judicial Court further held (1) where the plaintiff in a summary process action is not the property’s owner or lessor, the complaint must be dismissed with prejudice for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; (2) where the plaintiff is the true owner or lessor but the complaint has been signed and filed by another non-attorney person, the court may either dismiss the complaint without prejudice based on the unauthorized practice of law or allow the plaintiff to retain counsel or proceed pro se; and (3) where a plaintiff seeks to evict a tenant without the standing to do so, or where a person who is not authorized to practice law signs and files a summary process complaint, and where that conduct is not inadvertent, a court has the inherent authority to impose appropriate sanctions. View "Rental Property Management Services v. Hatcher" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions of possession of a large capacity firearm and large capacity feeding devices. On appeal, Defendant argued that his convictions should be overturned because the Commonwealth failed to prove that Defendant knew the firearm and feeding devices he possessed qualified as “large capacity” - that they were capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. The Court held that to sustain a conviction of possession of large capacity feeding devices, the Commonwealth must prove that the defendant either knew the firearm or feeding device met the legal definition of "large capacity" or knew it was capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. In this case, the judge adequately instructed the jury on the elements necessary to sustain the conviction, and a reasonable jury could have inferred that Defendant knew that the nine millimeter pistol and magazines Defendant possessed were capable of holding more than ten rounds of ammunition. Lastly, Defendant failed to show a violation of his rights under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution or article 17 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. View "Commonwealth v. Cassidy" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law