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At issue was how to calculate “fair market value” of a repossessed automobile under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 255B, 20 B and the notices that are required with respect to this calculation. Under section 20B, a creditor who repossesses and sells a vehicle is entitled to recover form the debt the deficiency that remains after deducting the “fair market value” of the vehicle from the debtor’s unpaid balance. Plaintiff in this case alleged that the fair market value of her repossessed automobile was the fair market retail value of the automobile, rather than the amount paid at an auction open to licensed dealers. The federal district court granted summary judgment to American Honda Finance Corporation (Honda). The court of appeals certified to the Supreme Judicial Court three questions. The Court answered (1) the ultimate determination of fair market value is left to the courts in contested cases, taking into account both creditor and debtor interests, and the means, methods, and markets used to sell the vehicle; and (2) the resale and postsale notices provided to the debtor must expressly describe the deficiency as the difference between the amount owed on the loan and the fair market value of the vehicle. View "Williams v. American Honda Finance Corp." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated Defendant’s conviction of stalking, holding that the superior court judge erred in denying Defendant’s request for access to records held in the victim compensation file maintained by the Attorney General under Mass. R. Crim. P. 17, and the error was prejudicial. On the eve of Defendant’s scheduled trial, Defendant learned that the complainant had applied for the Attorney General’s victim compensation program. Defendant sought access to records of the complainant’s claim for compensation for dental services as mandatory discovery and, in the alternative, as third-party records, pursuant to Rule 17. The judge denied the request, concluding that the records could not be disclosed to Defendant because the Attorney General’s regulations required that such records be kept confidential. The Supreme Judicial Court held (1) Defendant’s request to access the victim compensation records should have been evaluated as a request for third-party records under Rule 17, notwithstanding the regulation requiring confidentiality of records; and (2) the judge erred in redacting the complainant’s dental records. View "Commonwealth v. Torres" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 156C, 60(b) provides the exclusive remedy for dissenting members of a limited liability company that has voted to merge, so long as the merger is undertaken in accordance with Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 156C, 59-63. In this case, a member of a limited liability company (LLC) conducted a merger in breach of his fiduciary and contractual duties. The judge granted equitable relief. At issue was whether distribution of dissenting members’ interest in the LLC is the exclusive remedy of minority shareholders who objected to the merger and whether the judge erred in declining to rescind the merger. The Supreme Court held (1) where, as here, a merger was not conducted in compliance with Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 156C, 63, the remedy provided by Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 156C, 60(b) providing for distribution of dissenting members’ interest is not exclusive; (2) the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in fashioning an equitable remedy in this case, as rescission of the merger would be complicated and inequitable; and (3) the portion of the trial judge’s decision that increased Plaintiff’s interest in the merged LLC to five percent is remanded because there was no basis in the record for that figure. View "Allison v. Eriksson" on Justia Law

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Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 156C, 60(b) provides the exclusive remedy for dissenting members of a limited liability company that has voted to merge, so long as the merger is undertaken in accordance with Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 156C, 59-63. In this case, a member of a limited liability company (LLC) conducted a merger in breach of his fiduciary and contractual duties. The judge granted equitable relief. At issue was whether distribution of dissenting members’ interest in the LLC is the exclusive remedy of minority shareholders who objected to the merger and whether the judge erred in declining to rescind the merger. The Supreme Court held (1) where, as here, a merger was not conducted in compliance with Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 156C, 63, the remedy provided by Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 156C, 60(b) providing for distribution of dissenting members’ interest is not exclusive; (2) the trial judge did not abuse his discretion in fashioning an equitable remedy in this case, as rescission of the merger would be complicated and inequitable; and (3) the portion of the trial judge’s decision that increased Plaintiff’s interest in the merged LLC to five percent is remanded because there was no basis in the record for that figure. View "Allison v. Eriksson" on Justia Law

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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

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the Court denying Petitioner relief pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws 211, 3, holding that Petitioner failed to meet his burden of establishing that his challenge could not be remedied under the ordinary review process. Petitioner was convicted of rape and kidnapping. Petitioner’s direct appeal was pending before the Appeals Court when he filed a motion seeking access to, and copies of, confidential juror questionnaires submitted by prospective jurors for his trial. The motion was denied. Petitioner then filed this petition seeking relief from the judge’s order. The single justice denied the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Petitioner’s argument was something that could adequately be addressed by the Appeals Court. View "Scott v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The single justice did not err in denying, without a hearing, Petitioner’s petition for relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 on the ground that he had an adequate remedy in the normal appellate process. Petitioner, who was located serving a sentence in the Dominican Republic, was extradited to the United States pursuant to an extradition treaty to be tried on a murder indictment. After his arraignment, Petitioner was indicted on a further charge of witness tampering. Petitioner moved to dismiss the witness tampering indictment on the ground that the rule of specialty prohibited his being tried for any offense other than the murder indictment for which he was extradited. A superior court judge denied the motion, concluding that Petitioner lacked standing to object to an illegal or defective extradition. Petitioner then filed this Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 petition. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Petitioner failed to satisfy his burden of establishing that review of the trial court’s decision could not adequately be obtained on appeal. View "Calzado v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the superior court judge decision allowing Defendants’ motion to suppress statements made to detectives and pills found in one of the defendant’s vehicles on the grounds that Defendants had been subject to custodial interrogation without, in one case, any Miranda warnings and, in the other case, an inadequate warning. Defendants were two individuals who had been detained in a restaurant parking lot as part of a threshold inquiry into a street-level drug transaction. The grand jury indicted Defendants of drug offenses. The superior court allowed Defendants’ motions to suppress. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that, applying the factors set out in Commonwealth v. Groome, 435 Mass. 201, 211-212 (2001), to the circumstances of this case, Defendants did not meet their burden of showing that they were in custody when they made the incriminating statements. View "Commonwealth v. Cawthron" on Justia Law

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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