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The designation of prima facie evidence in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 266, 37 - pursuant to which an individual commits larceny if, with the intent to defraud, he obtains goods or services in exchange for a check that the individual wrote knowing there were insufficient funds in the account from which the check draws - and the instruction stemming from the statute are unconstitutional. Defendant appealed his conviction of four counts of larceny by uttering a false check, arguing that the prima facie designation in the statute and the related instruction are constitutionally infirm because an individual’s failure to pay a check within two days of notice of dishonor does not have a sufficiently logical connection to the individual’s knowledge of insufficient funds or intent to defraud at the time the check was written. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed with Defendant but nonetheless affirmed his convictions because the instructional error in this case was harmless beyond a reasonable doubt. View "Commonwealth v. Littles" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the county court dismissing Petitioner’s petition for relief in the nature of certiorari pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 249, 4. After Petitioner, a medical doctor, was terminated from his position, the Board of Registration in Medicine (board) commenced disciplinary proceedings against him. The board referred the matter to the Division of Administrative Law Appeals. Following an evidentiary hearing, a magistrate issued his recommended decision. Petitioner filed a complaint in the nature of petition for a writ of certiorari arguing, inter alia, that his due process rights had been violated during the course of the board proceedings. The single justice dismissed the petition without a hearing. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the single justice did not err or otherwise abuse his discretion in dismissing the petition. View "Padmanabhan v. Board of Registration in Medicine" on Justia Law

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Under Massachusetts law, statutory prejudgment interest pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 231, 6H shall be added to the amount of lost wages and other benefits awarded as damages pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 150 but shall not be added to the additional amount of the award arising from trebling of those damages as liquidated damages. The Supreme Judicial Court answered a question certified to it by the United State District Court for the District of Massachusetts regarding available statutory interest when liquidated treble damages are awarded pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 150. This case was brought by several employees of Defendant in a class action suit against the company and its parent company. The plaintiffs alleged, among other claims, nonpayment of wages in violation of the Massachusetts Wage Act, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149, 148, 150. The federal district judge granted final approval of a class settlement agreement that resolved all outstanding issues except a question of law necessitating the certified question. View "George v. National Water Main Cleaning Co." on Justia Law

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In these two cases, the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) contended that when it unsuccessfully seeks after July 23, 2013 to reclassify a level two sex offender as a level three sex offender, that individual is reclassified a level two sex offender for purposes of Moe v. Sex Offender Registry Board, 6 NE 3d 530 (Mass. 2014), and therefore, SORB may publish the individual’s registry information on the Internet. In Moe, the Supreme Judicial Court permanently enjoined SORB from publishing on the Internet the registry information of any individual who was classified as a level two sex offender on or before July 12, 2013 unless that individual is later reclassified a level two or level three sex offender. In the instant cases, a hearing officer denied SORB’s motion for reclassification and retained the earlier level two classification. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded to the superior court for the issuance of a permanent injunction barring publication of each plaintiff’s registry information on the Internet unless and until the offender is reclassified a level three sex offender, holding that, under Moe, a sex offender is “reclassified” only where a hearing officer allows SORB’s motion to increase his classification based on new information indicating an increased risk of sexual recidivism. View "Doe, Sex Offender Registry Board No. 326573 v. Sex Offender Registry Board" on Justia Law

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Where an insurance policy provides that the insurer has the “duty to defend any claim” initiated against the insured, the insurer’s duty to defend does not require it to prosecute affirmative counterclaims on behalf of its insured. In this case, a policy imposed two duties on Insurer with respect to any wrongful termination claim brought against Insured. When a wrongful termination claim was commenced against Insured, Insurer filed a complaint for declaratory judgment seeking a ruling that its duty to Insured did not require that it prosecute or pay for the prosecution of a counterclaim for misappropriation of funds. A federal district court issued a judgment in favor of Insurer. On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit certified three questions to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The court answered the first two certified questions and did not reach the third. View "Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Co. v. Visionaid, Inc." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

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Defendant was determined to be a sexually dangerous person (SDP) pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123A and was committed to the Massachusetts Treatment Center for an indeterminate period of from one day to life. Defendant appealed, arguing, among other things, that a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) is a constitutionally inadequate basis for commitment as an SDP. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment and order for Defendant’s civil commitment as an SDP, holding (1) an ASPD diagnosis is adequate to satisfy the definitional requirements of an SDP where the Commonwealth also proves that, as a result of the ASPD, the individual is likely to engage in sexual offenses if not civilly committed; and (2) the trial judge did not err in denying Defendant’s motions in limine to exclude expert testimony regarding his likelihood of reoffense and in precluding the admission of risk category labels for the Static-99R risk assessment tool. View "Commonwealth v. George" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated Defendant’s conviction of murder in the first degree on theories of deliberate premeditation and extreme atrocity or cruelty. The court held (1) while not overwhelming, the evidence presented at trial was sufficient as a matter of law to support Defendant’s conviction of murder in the first degree, and therefore, there was no error in the judge’s denial of Defendant’s motion for a required finding; but (2) the trial judge’s failure to require an explanation of the prosecutor’s peremptory challenge of a prospective juror, who was African-American, was error, and because the error constituted structural error for which prejudice is presumed, the case must be remanded to the superior court for a new trial. View "Commonwealth v. Jones" on Justia Law

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Since 2009, AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, Inc. (ASGCC) has been operating a free hypodermic needle access program in a village in Barnstable. The Town of Barnstable ordered the cessation of the program, asserting that ASGCC was in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 94C, 27 and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 111, 215. In response to the Town’s cease and desist order, ASGCC filed this action seeking injunctive relief and a declaration that its nonsale needle access program was not statutorily prohibited. The superior court judge reported the question to the Appeals Court, and the Supreme Judicial Court allowed ASGCC’s application for direct appellate review. The court remanded the matter to the superior court for entry of a declaration that neither statute prohibits ASGCC from engaging in free distribution of hypodermic needles and an injunction permanently enjoining enforcement of the Town’s order to cease and desist, holding that the plain language of the statutes does not proscribe free distribution of hypodermic needs by a private individual or organization such as ASGCC that does not operate a program implemented by the Department of Public Health. View "AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, Inc. v. Town of Barnstable" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the superior court’s determination that information such as names, addresses and telephone numbers contained on animal health certificates in the custody of the Department of Agricultural Resources is protected from disclosure under two exemptions from the statutory definition of “public records.” The two statutory exemptions at issue in this case were Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 4, 7, twenty-sixth (n) and (c), which implicate public safety and privacy. After analyzing the scope of exemptions (n) and (c) and setting forth the appropriate constructions of the exemptions, the Supreme Judicial Court remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. View "People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Department of Agricultural Resources" on Justia Law

Posted in: Animal / Dog Law

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Michael Langan, a physician certified by the Board of Registration in Medicine, entered into a letter of agreement with the Board under which Langan agreed to certain conditions in order to continue practicing medicine. The Board later determined that Langan was in violation of his letter of agreement for a second time and therefore suspended his license. Langan then twice petitioned the Board for a stay of his suspension. The Board denied both petitions. Langan filed a petition for relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 249, 4, which was denied by a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the Board did not err in denying Langan’s petition to stay his petition, and therefore, the single justice properly denied relief in the nature of certiorari. View "Langan v. Board of Registration in Medicine" on Justia Law