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Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 276, 58A requires three convictions of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol (OUI) before a defendant can be held without bail pending trial, and therefore, the statute does not permit the Commonwealth to seek pretrial detention when a defendant has two prior OUI convictions and is charged with OUI, third offense. Here, Defendant was charged with two indictments for OUI, third offense. The trial court held a dangerousness hearing pursuant to section 58A. The judge concluded that Defendant was dangerous and ordered him held without bail pending trial. On Defendant’s motion, the judge reported the question at issue in this case. The Supreme Judicial Court answered the question in the negative, holding that section 58A requires three, not two, prior OUI convictions. View "Commonwealth v. Dayton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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For reasons set forth in its decision issued today in Van Arsdale v. Van Arsdale, 477 Mass. __ (2017), the Supreme Judicial Court held that the durational limits of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 are constitutional. In 2014, Husband sought to modify his alimony obligation established in an alimony agreement, claiming a material change of circumstances. The judge agreed with Husband that modification was warranted. The judge also applied the Act’s durational limits to the agreement and ordered that Husband’s alimony obligation would terminate in 2020. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the trial judge did not abuse her discretion concluding that Wife failed to prove that deviation beyond the Act’s duration limits was required in the interests of justice. View "Popp v. Popp" on Justia Law

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The application of the durational limits of the Alimony Reform Act of 2011 to certain alimony agreements that predate the Act is not unconstitutionally retroactive. Here, William Van Arsdale filed a complaint for modification in 2015 seeking to terminate his alimony obligation. The probate and family court terminated William’s obligation to pay Susan Van Arsdale alimony because the Act’s relevant durational limit had been exceeded and Susan had not shown that deviation from them was necessary. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the application of the Act’s duration limits to the alimony agreement between William and Susan was not unconstitutionally retroactive; and (2) the probate and family court judge did not abuse her discretion when she declined to deviate from the durational limits in this case. View "Van Arsdale v. Van Arsdale" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court held in this case that the principles of double jeopardy bar the imposition of a consecutive sentence of eight years’ probation, imposed in 2015 by a judge who was not the plea judge, where Defendant originally had been sentenced in 2005 to an eight-year term of probation concurrent with his ten-year prison sentence. Specifically, Defendant was not resentenced to a term of consecutive probation when the original sentencing judge vacated the community parole supervision for life portion of his sentence. The court remanded the matter to the superior court for entry of an order dismissing the Commonwealth’s motion to correct and clarify the sentence as moot on the ground that Defendant’s sentence had been completed before the motion was filed. View "Commonwealth v. Pacheco" on Justia Law

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Neither the grant in an irrevocable trust of a right of occupancy and use in a primary residence to an applicant nor the retention of a life estate by the applicant in the applicant’s primary residence makes the equity in the home owned by the trust a countable asset for the purpose of determining Medicaid eligibility for long-term care benefits under the Federal Medicaid Act. At issue before the Supreme Judicial Court in these two cases was whether applicants were eligible for long-term care benefits under the Act Act where they created an irrevocable trust and deeded their home - their primary asset - to the trust but retained the right to use and reside in the home for the rest of their life. The Director of the Massachusetts Office of Medicaid (MassHealth) found that the applicants were not eligible for long-term care benefits. The superior court upheld MassHealth’s determinations. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the judgments in both cases because MassHealth found that the equity in both homes was a “countable” asset whose value exceeded the asset eligibility limitation under the Act. View "Daley v. Secretary of Executive Office of Health & Human Services" on Justia Law

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In appropriate circumstances a judge has discretion to impose a concurrent State prison sentence nunc pro tunc to the commencement of a house of correction sentence then being served. Defendant appealed from an order denying his motion for credit for time served in a house of correction for one set of offenses while he was awaiting trial on a second-unrelated set of offenses. The appeals court affirmed. The Supreme Court vacated the superior court judge’s order denying the motion for jail credit, holding that although Defendant was not entitled as of right to the credit he sought, the superior court judge failed to consider whether the circumstances warranted ordering Defendant’s concurrent State prison sentence to commence nunc pro tunc to commencement of the house of correction sentence. View "Commonwealth v. Lydon" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Petitioner, a Boston police officer, filed an application for a criminal complaint alleging that Respondent, her supervisor, committed an assault and battery against her. Two clerk-magistrates denied the application for lack of probable cause. Petitioner then filed a petition under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 seeking a rehearing on her application and a broader ruling requiring that applications for criminal complaints made against police officers be automatically transferred to a judge outside the police officer’s jurisdiction rather than being heard by a clerk-magistrate int he first instance. A single justice denied relief without holding a hearing. The Supreme judicial Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances presented here, Petitioner was not entitled to extraordinary relief. View "In re Application for a Criminal Complaint" on Justia Law

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In 1969, Defendant was convicted of two counts of murder in the first degree and two counts of assault with intent to rob. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed. After the denial of Defendant’s seventh motion for a new trial Defendant sought leave to appeal pursuant to the gatekeeper provision of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E. A single justice of the court denied such leave, concluding that the motion failed to present a “new and substantial question.” The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed Defendant’s appeal, holding that, despite Defendant’s assertion, Defendant’s appeal ought not be permitted to proceed despite the longstanding rule that the decision of the gatekeeper is “final and unreviewable.” View "Commonwealth v. Robinson" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Deputy Chief Counsel for the Public Defender Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services and the Deputy Chief Counsel for the Private Counsel Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (collectively, CPCS) has the sole authority under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211D for the assignment of counsel to indigent criminal defendants, and a judge may not override that authority to accommodate a preference for attorneys willing to assume a more collaborative role in drug court proceedings. CPCS brought this petition for relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 seeking an order affirming CPCS’s independent authority under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211D to select and supervise attorneys for indigent defendants in the pilot program it launched in the drug court. This action arose after a district court justice removed CPCS attorneys from drug court cases to which they had been assigned and excluded CPCS attorneys from assignment to any new case in the drug court. The Supreme Judicial Court held that where a drug court defendant who is indigent is alleged to have violated the terms of probation, the judge must appoint CPCS as counsel, and counsel assigned by CPCS may be removed only for cause after a hearing. View "Deputy Chief Counsel for the Public Defender Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services v. Acting First Justice of the Lowell Division of the District Court Department" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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Plaintiff and Defendants owned abutting parcels of property. After several years of Defendants opposing Plaintiff’s redevelopment plans, Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging abuse of process and a violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 11. Defendants filed a special motion to dismiss pursuant to the “anti-SLAPP statute,” Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 231, 59H. A superior court judge denied the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court (1) affirmed the denial of Defendants’ special motion to dismiss with respect to Plaintiff’s claim under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 11; and (2) vacated the denial of the special motion to dismiss with respect to Plaintiff’s abuse of process claim, holding that Defendants met their threshold burden under the anti-SLAPP statute of showing that this claim was solely based on Defendants’ petitioning activity. Given that Plaintiff has not demonstrated that the entirety of Defendants’ petitioning activities lack a reasonable basis in fact or law, it may attempt upon remand to make the showing outlined in Blanchard v. Steward Carney Hospital, Inc., 477 Mass. , (2017), which augments the framework in Duracraft Corp. v. Holmes Products Corp., 427 Mass. 156 (1998). View "477 Harrison Ave., LLC v. JACE Boston, LLC" on Justia Law