Justia Massachusetts Supreme Court Opinion Summaries

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant's conviction of murder in the first degree on the theory of extreme atrocity or cruelty, holding that Defendant was not entitled to relief on his allegations of error.Specifically, the Supreme Judicial Court held (1) the judge did not err in excluding the third-party culprit evidence proffered by Defendant, and the judge did not commit reversible error by barring Defendant from testifying as to certain statements; (2) the failure to instruct the jury on voluntary intoxication did not create a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice; (3) the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to establish that Defendant committed the offense; and (4) this Court declines to exercise its extraordinary power under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, § 33E to order a new trial or to reduce Defendant's sentence. View "Commonwealth v. Martinez" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Judicial Court held that the broad eminent domain powers granted to redevelopment authorities by Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 12B, 11(d) include demonstration projects under Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 121B, 46(f).The Somerville Redevelopment Authority (SRA) took by eminent domain approximately four acres of land from Cobble Hill Center LLC as a demonstration project pursuant to section 46(f). Following the taking, Cobble Hill brought this action asserting that section 46(f) does not authorize takings by eminent domain. The trial judge entered judgment in favor of SRA. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the demonstration project plan at issue satisfied the definition of "demonstration" for purposes of section 46(f); and (2) the SRA's taking was a lawful demonstration under section 46(f) and was constitutional. View "Cobble Hill Center LLC v. Somerville Redevelopment Authority" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order of the superior court allowing Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction but amended the first numbered paragraph of the order to affirmatively restrain only Turo Inc.'s conduct, holding that the preliminary injunction was properly granted.The Massachusetts Port Authority (Plaintiff) filed suit against Turo, RMG Motors LLC, and John Doe Nos. 1 through 100 (collectively, Defendants) in this dispute over the unregulated pick up and drop off of passengers at the Logan International Airport. At issue on appeal was the superior court judge's order granting a preliminary injunction in favor of Plaintiff that restricted Turo from conducting commercial activity at the airport without written permission from Plaintiff. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order, holding that the judge did not err in issuing the preliminary injunction but that a modification of the terms of the injunction to comply with the requirements of the Communications Decency Act, 47 U.S.C. 230(c)(1) was required. View "Massachusetts Port Authority v. Turo Inc." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court reversed Defendant's conviction of two counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon resulting in serious injury, holding that the trial court judge erred in excluding one of Defendant's experts, and this error was prejudicial.At trial, Defendant argued that he acted in self-defense and that the two men involved in the altercation were motivated to attack him by racial animus. To support his theory, Defendant sought to introduce the testimony of two experts who would testify that the tattoo found on one of the men was affiliated with a group that espoused white supremacist beliefs. The judge excluded both efforts on reliability grounds. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed and remanded the case for a new trial, holding that the trial judge abused his discretion in excluding the testimony of one of the experts, and this error was prejudicial. View "Commonwealth v. Hinds" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the single justice of the court denying Petitioner's petition brought under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse her discretion in denying relief.Petitioner brought a personal injury action against Respondent, and the case proceeded to a jury trial. After the close of the evidence but prior to closing arguments, Petitioner indicated that he no longer wished to continue with the trial. After discussing the decision with Petitioner, the judge dismissed the complaint. Petitioner subsequently filed a notice of appeal and then a second notice of appeal. The judge dismissed the first appeal and then struck the second notice of appeal. Petitioner subsequently filed this petition asking the court to declare a mistrial and to order a new trial. The single justice summarily denied the petition. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Petitioner was not entitled to relief on the underlying complaint. The Court then remanded the matter with instructions to process the second notice of appeal. View "Jahm v. Mall at Liberty Tree, LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the single justice denying Petitioner's petition filed pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws, ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse his discretion in denying relief.Petitioner was charged with trafficking in heroin, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, and two civil motor vehicle infractions. Petitioner filed a motion to suppress, which was denied. Petitioner subsequently filed a motion for leave to file a renewed motion to suppress, as well as a motion for recusal of the district court judge. The judge denied both motions. Petitioner then filed his Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 petition arguing that the trial judge made multiple decisions that were unfairly prejudicial to him. The single justice denied relief. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that there was nothing exceptional about Petitioner's case that warranted the exercise of this Court's extraordinary power. View "Torres v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of a single justice of the court denying Petitioner's petition filed under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that Petitioner's petition failed because of adequate alternative remedies.Petitioner asked the county court to order the clerk of the superior court to enter a final judgment in certain proceedings in that court. The judge denied the motion, concluding that the petition failed because there existed an adequate alternative remedy. Petitioner then filed his current petition asking the court to direct the trial court to either enter judgment or schedule a trial. A single justice denied relief. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Petitioner's petition failed because of an adequate alternative remedy. View "Bishay v. Superior Court Department of the Trial Court" on Justia Law

Posted in: Civil Procedure
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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the single justice of the court summarily denying the Commonwealth's petition under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 seeking relief from an evidentiary order of the superior court judge in this criminal matter, holding that there was no error or abuse of discretion in the denial of relief.Defendant was indicted for possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and other offenses. Defendant filed a motion requesting that the Commonwealth's test firing of an alleged firearm be observed by a defense expert. The superior court judge denied the request but ordered that the test firing to be recorded and that the recording be provided to Defendant. The Commonwealth brought this petition seeking relief from the order. The single justice denied the petition. The Supreme Court denied relief, holding that there was no abuse of discretion in the denial of relief. View "Commonwealth v. Brown" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law
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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the juvenile court finding Juvenile in criminal contempt, holding that the juvenile court judge abused her discretion.Juvenile, who was sixteen years old, was before the juvenile court judge for a hearing on alleged violations of conditions of her release, called the judge a "dumb, white bitch." For this statement the judge found Juvenile in criminal contempt. Thereafter, the judge sentenced Juvenile to ninety days, the maximum sentence under rule 43. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of contempt, holding that the judge abused her discretion by not taking into account Juvenile's status as a child when she imposed a ninety-day criminal sentence and did not comply with the requirements of Mass. R. Crim. P. 43 and 44. View "Commonwealth v. Ulani U." on Justia Law

Posted in: Juvenile Law
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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the portion of the trial court's judgment denying Plaintiff's claim under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A, 11 and affirmed the remainder of the judgment, holding that the judge erred in instructing the jury under section 11.The attorney defendants in this case misappropriated propriety materials from their employer during their employment and subsequently used those materials to compete with their former employer. A jury found Defendants liable on claims for conversion, conspiracy, and breach of the duty of loyalty. The jury denied relief on the plaintiff employer's claims for unfair or deceptive trade practices, in violation of section 11. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment in part, holding that Defendants may be liable for unfair or deceptive trade practices, and the judge erred in instructing the jury that Defendants' conduct before leaving their employer was not relevant to Plaintiff's claim under section 11. View "Governo Law Firm LLC v. Bergeron" on Justia Law