Articles Posted in Civil Procedure

by
The Supreme Judicial Court held that a recall election to remove Plaintiff, a member of the board of selectmen of the town of Townsend, from office pursuant to the town’s recall act may not proceed because the act provides for a recall vote to take place only on grounds not alleged here. In 2017, Petitioners, ten registered voters residing in the town, submitted to the town clerk a petition seeking to recall Plaintiff, citing malfeasance and neglect of duty as grounds for the recall. Plaintiff commenced an action to enjoin the recall election, contending that the allegations made against her were legally insufficient to initiate a recall under the act. The superior court denied Plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction, but a single justice of the Appeals Court ordered that a preliminary injunction issue. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that the recall election may not proceed because the allegations in the affidavit supporting the petition for recall do not fall within the act’s enumerated grounds. View "King v. Town Clerk of Townsend" on Justia Law

by
Unpreserved arguments on appeals from sexual dangerous proceedings under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123A are to be reviewed for a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice. In 2011, Petitioner was committed to the Massachusetts Treatment Center as a sexually dangerous person pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123A, 12. In 2012, Petitioner filed a petition for examination and discharge. The jury found Petitioner continued to be sexually dangerous, and the trial court entered an order continuing his commitment. On appeal, Petitioner argued, among other things, that a written report of a psychological examination conducted one day before trial was improperly admitted at trial. In response, the Commonwealth argued that the issue was waived because Petitioner did not object to the report’s admission at trial. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) unpreserved arguments on appeals from sexual dangerous proceedings under chapter 123A are to be reviewed for a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice; (2) the trial court did not err in admitting the report; and (3) trial counsel did not provide ineffective assistance. View "In re R.B." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the county court denying, without a hearing, Petitioner’s petition for relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, in which Petitioner sought a stay of execution of a default judgment issued against her in a summary process action in the Boston Municipal Court (BMC). A single justice ultimately denied the petition without a hearing. In affirming, the Supreme Judicial Court held that the judgment of the BMC was subject to review in the ordinary appellate process. View "Yahya v. Rocktop Partners I, LP" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
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

by
At issue was the appropriate standards and procedures for requests by the Commonwealth and parties to a care and protection proceeding in the juvenile court for the release of impounded records of the proceeding. Here, Mother and Father were the subjects of a care and protection proceeding, the records from which were impounded, and the defendants in criminal child abuse cases. Father and the Commonwealth sought access to the impounded records in conjunction with the upcoming criminal trials. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) where a party to a care and protection proceeding or the Commonwealth seeks access to impounded records of the proceeding, the requestor must demonstrate that the records should be released under the good cause standard of rule 7 of the Uniform Rules on Impoundment Procedure; and (2) if the good cause standard is met, records may be disclosed for limited, confidential review and use, but the discoverability of the records does not also make them admissible at a subsequent criminal proceeding. View "Care and Protection of M.C." on Justia Law

by
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the court denying Petitioner’s petition seeking relief from the district court’s judgment in a summary process proceeding. Petitioner filed the petition pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 249, 4 and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 249, 5. Petitioner also challenged the Appellate Division’s judgment affirming the appeal bond ordered by the trial judge in the same summary process proceeding. In affirming the single justice’s denial of the petition, the Supreme Judicial Court held that Petitioner failed to carry his burden of showing that adequate alternative remedies were not available. View "Wallace v. PNC Bank, N.A." on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure

by
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. In her petition, Petitioner sought review of several interlocutory trial court orders in a civil lawsuit commenced by Respondent to collect on a superior court judgment. In affirming, the Supreme Judicial Court held that Petitioner failed to make a showing that review of the trial court’s decision could not adequately be obtained on appeal. The court then placed Petitioner on notice that any subsequent attempt to seek relief pursuant to a Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 petition that suffers from similar deficiencies may result in restriction of future filings. View "Minkina v. Rodgers, Powers & Schwartz, LLP" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure