by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the Sex Offender Registry Board to deny Plaintiff’s petition to reopen his classification hearing where the petition, filed six years after the Board’s final decision, did not adequately explain the delay and did not allege prejudice. Plaintiff was classified by the Board as a level three sex offender. More than six years later, Plaintiff sought to reopen his classification hearing, arguing that the Board violated his procedural due process rights when it held the hearing without ensuring that Plaintiff’s waiver of counsel was knowing and voluntarily. The Board summarily denied the petition for rehearing as untimely. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed without reaching Plaintiff’s due process claim, holding that, under the circumstances, the Board’s denial of Plaintiff’s petition to reopen his classification hearing was not an abuse of discretion. View "Doe, Sex offender Registry Board No. 209081 v. Sex Offender Registry Board" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the court dismissing as moot Petitioner’s petition filed pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3. Petitioner, an inmate, filed a complaint claiming that Respondents violated his civil rights by failing to provide him with a diabetic snack. A judge allowed Respondents’ motion to dismiss, and Petitioner filed a notice of appeal. Petitioner then filed this petition claiming that the trial court clerk’s office had not acted on his notice of appeal. The single justice dismissed the petition as moot because Petitioner’s notice of appeal had already been docketed in the trial court. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the single justice did not err in dismissing the Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 petition as moot. View "Ewing v. Davenport-Mello" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for murder in the first degree on a theory of deliberate premeditation and declined to exercise its extraordinary power under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E. On appeal, Defendant argued that his defense counsel, the trial judge, and the prosecutor all committed error, requiring a new trial. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) any error on the part of the defense counsel did not create a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice; (2) the admission of certain prior bad act evidence was error, but there was no substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice; (3) there was no error in the prosecutor’s remarks during closing argument; and (4) there was no error in the jury instructions. View "Commonwealth v. Vazquez" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction for murder in the first degree on a theory of deliberate premeditation and declined to exercise its extraordinary power under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E. On appeal, Defendant argued that his defense counsel, the trial judge, and the prosecutor all committed error, requiring a new trial. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) any error on the part of the defense counsel did not create a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice; (2) the admission of certain prior bad act evidence was error, but there was no substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice; (3) there was no error in the prosecutor’s remarks during closing argument; and (4) there was no error in the jury instructions. View "Commonwealth v. Vazquez" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order denying the Commonwealth’s motion to dismiss the civil complaint filed by Plaintiff seeking compensation under the erroneous convictions statute, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 258D. Plaintiff filed the complaint after the appeals court reversed his conviction for unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon. The superior court denied the Commonwealth’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the case to the superior court with directions to enter judgment for the Commonwealth, holding that Plaintiff’s conviction was not overturned on grounds tending to establish his innocence, thereby rendering him ineligible for compensation under the statute. View "Peterson v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the order denying the Commonwealth’s motion to dismiss the civil complaint filed by Plaintiff seeking compensation under the erroneous convictions statute, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 258D. Plaintiff filed the complaint after the appeals court reversed his conviction for unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon. The superior court denied the Commonwealth’s motion to dismiss. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the case to the superior court with directions to enter judgment for the Commonwealth, holding that Plaintiff’s conviction was not overturned on grounds tending to establish his innocence, thereby rendering him ineligible for compensation under the statute. View "Peterson v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated and set aside Defendant’s conviction for murder in the first degree on the theory of felony-murder, with unarmed robbery as the predicate felony, and remanded the matter to the superior court for further proceedings, holding that Defendant’s trial counsel provided constitutionally ineffective assistance. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s conviction; but (2) Defendant was entitled to a new trial because his trial counsel was deficient for failing to have filed a motion to suppress the search of Defendant’s cellular telephone, and the improperly-admitted evidence likely influenced the jury’s verdict. View "Commonwealth v. Morin" on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court convicting Defendant of murder in the first degree on a theory of extreme atrocity and cruelty, denied Defendant’s motion for a new trial, and declined to exercise its power under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E to reduce the verdict or order a new trial. The court held (1) the trial judge did not err by admitting, in the Commonwealth’s case-in-chief, evidence of Defendant’s previous incarceration; (2) the trial judge did not err by giving limiting instructions regarding prior bad act evidence admitted in the Commonwealth’s case-in-chief or in its timing regarding the limiting instructions; (3) the trial judge did not abuse its discretion by admitting evidence of Defendant’s prior bad acts in the Commonwealth’s rebuttal case; and (4) nothing in the record warranted a reduced verdict or a new trial under section 33E. View "Commonwealth v. Facella" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

by
The phrase “serious bodily harm” in the youthful offender statute, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 119, 54 contemplates harm to human beings, not animals. A grand jury returned two youthful offender indictments against Juvenile, charging him with cruelty to animals and bestiality. The juvenile court allowed Juvenile’s motion to dismiss, ruling that the phrase “serious bodily harm” in the youthful offender statute refers only to human victims. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the “serious bodily harm” referenced in the statute does not apply to animals, and therefore, Juvenile’s conduct did not meet the requirements of the statute. View "Commonwealth v. J.A." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court convicting Defendant of felony murder, with the predicate felony of armed home invasion and declined to exercise its extraordinary authority to grant a new trial or to reduce the verdict to a lesser degree of guilt. The court held (1) the evidence was sufficient to support Defendant’s convictions; (2) there was no reversible error in the trial court’s evidentiary rulings concerning the introduction of testimony about DNA found on objects at the crime scene and testimony concerning the use of a DNA profile of the defendant stored in a national database; and (3) the motion judge did not reversibly err in denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial on the ground that the Commonwealth did not provide exculpatory evidence concerning a forensic scientist’s failure to pass required proficiency tests. View "Commonwealth v. Sullivan" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law