Interested parties may file their briefs in the Office of the Clerk for the Commonwealth, John Adams Courthouse, Suite 1-400, One Pemberton Square, Boston MA 02108-1724. Phone: 617-557-1020
Parties filing amicus briefs are expected to comply with the requirements of Rules 17,19 and 20 of the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure. Amicus briefs, to assist the court, should focus on the ramifications of a decision and not solely on the interests of the parties filing such briefs. Amicus submissions are due no later than two weeks before the first day of the sitting in which the case is scheduled for argument.
The below are solicitations for amicus briefs from the Supreme Judicial Court. Click here to see solicitations for amicus briefs from the Massachusetts Appeals Court.
The Supreme Judicial Court is soliciting amicus briefs or memoranda from interested parties in the following matters pending before the court:
March 2016 Announcements
Timothy Deal & others vs. Commissioner of Correction & another
Where a juvenile homicide offender qualifies for placement in a minimum security facility based on the Department of Correction Objective Point Base Score Classification scale:
1. Does the Department of Correction's practice of not permitting qualifying offenders to be placed in minimum security unless and until they receive a positive parole vote violate: (a) G. L. c. 119, § 72B, as amended by St. 2014, c. 189, § 2; or (b) their right to meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, or articles 26 and 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, or both Constitutions?
2. Does the Department of Correction’s practice of not permitting qualifying juvenile homicide offenders to be placed in minimum security based on the nature of offense (Discretionary Over-Ride Code R) or prior criminal history (Discretionary Over-Ride Code S) violate: (a) G. L. c. 119, § 72B, as amended by St. 2014, c. 189, § 2; or (b) their right to a meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, or articles 26 and 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, or both Constitutions?
Commonwealth vs. Calvin Horne
Whether the Commonwealth may properly introduce evidence of typical physical characteristics of a drug user in order to show that the defendant, lacking such characteristics, had the intent to distribute drugs found in his possession.
Commonwealth vs. Randy LeBlanc
Whether, under G. L. c. 90, § 24 (2) (a), a defendant may be convicted of leaving the scene of a collision causing property damage where the collision occurs not on a public way but on private property; whether operation on a public way is an element of the offense under the statute.
February 2016 Announcements
Commonwealth vs. Bryan M. Grassie
1. At a grand jury proceeding in which the Commonwealth seeks an indictment for murder and in which there is evidence presented of mitigating circumstances or defenses (other than lack of criminal responsibility) sufficiently strong that the integrity of the grand jury would have been impaired if it were withheld, and the subject of the investigation is an adult, whether the grand jury must be instructed both on the elements of murder and on the mitigating circumstances and defenses. See Commonwealth v. Walczak, 463 Mass. 808 (2012). See also id. at 836 (Gants, J., concurring).
2. Whether, if the court were to adopt such a rule, it should be applied prospectively only.
3. What is the practice generally of prosecutors in Massachusetts in terms of instructing grand juries as to the elements of crimes and as to mitigating circumstances and defenses in cases involving adult defendants?
Clifford E. George vs. Jacquelyn A. George
Whether a judge, on a complaint for modification of an alimony judgment that predated the Alimony Reform Act, may properly deviate from the durational limits of G. L. c. 208, § 49, on the basis that the alimony provisions of the parties’ separation agreement, which were merged into the judgment, were inextricably connected with the property division provisions of the agreement, which survived the judgment. See St. 2011, c. 124, § 4 (b) (“Existing alimony awards which exceed the durational limits . . . shall be modified upon a complaint for modification without additional material change of circumstance, unless the court finds that deviation from the durational limits is warranted”).
Nancy Chadwick vs. Duxbury Public Schools & others
Whether Massachusetts will recognize a union-member testimonial privilege, such that the plaintiff in this case, in her underlying employment discrimination action against her employer, would not be required to produce in discovery communications between herself and her union representatives related to the case.
Commonwealth vs. Marcus Thomas
Whether the failure of police to comply with the so-called Silva Santiago protocol before having an eyewitness view a photographic array, see Commonwealth v. Silva Santiago, 453 Mass. 782, 797 798 (2009), or the display of the photographs simultaneously instead of sequentially, or a combination of both, necessarily renders a resulting out-of-court identification inadmissible.
Commonwealth vs. Frank Valdez
Where a judge accepting a guilty plea advises the defendant of the risks of deportation and of denial of naturalization, but not of the risk of exclusion from admission to the United States, see G. L. c. 278, § 29D, what constitutes an adequate showing that the defendant faces more than a hypothetical risk of exclusion, such that the defendant may withdraw his plea due to the judge’s failure to give that particular warning. The court would also appreciate an explanation of the formal process, if any, by which the Federal immigration authorities exclude an alien from admission to the United States (as opposed to deporting him or her).
Commonwealth vs. Michelle Carter
Whether evidence that a juvenile has encouraged another person to commit suicide constitutes the “infliction or threat of serious bodily harm” for the purpose of indicting her as a youthful offender under G. L. c. 119, § 54.
Commonwealth vs. Timothea Neary-French
1. “Whether the 2003 amendment to G. L. c. 90, § 24, which created a new ‘.08 or greater’ theory by which to prove an OUI offense, where a breath test reading of .08 or greater is an element of the offense, now makes the decision by a defendant whether or not to take the breath test itself a critical stage of the criminal proceedings requiring that the defendant be advised of [a] right to counsel prior to making that decision, pursuant to art. 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights and the Sixth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.” (Reported question)
2. Whether the holding in Commonwealth v. Brazelton, 404 Mass. 783 (1989) (“The moment at which a person must decide to take or to refuse to take a breathalyzer test is not a critical stage in the criminal process”), remains good law after the 2003 amendment.
Verizon New England, Inc. & another vs. Board of Assessors of Boston
Where art. 112 of the amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution modified Pt. II, c. 1, § 1, art. 4, of the Massachusetts Constitution to allow for the creation of different classes of real property, and where a municipality may tax the different classes of real property at different rates, whether the statutory provision that implements the amendment, G. L. c. 40, § 56, results in the imposition of disproportionate taxes on personal property and is therefore unconstitutional.
Service Employees International Union, Local 509 vs. Department of Mental Health & others
Whether the language in G. L. c. 7, § 53, excepting from the definition of “privatization contract” any renewals or extensions of the original contract – i.e., “[a]ny subsequent agreement, including any agreement resulting from a rebidding of previously privatized service, or any agreement renewing or extending a privatization contract, shall not be considered a privatization contract” – presupposes that the original contract satisfied the requirements of the statute and was a valid privatization contract, such that a party who commenced an action challenging the validity of the contract as a privatization contract can continue to maintain the challenge even after the contract has been renewed or extended.
Commonwealth vs. Jhamal Brangan
1. Whether, in a criminal case, the Commonwealth has the right to appeal from the allowance of a mistrial based on prosecutorial misconduct (here, allegedly improper remarks by the prosecutor in closing argument), where the motion is made before the case is submitted to the jury, the judge reserves ruling on the motion at the time it is made, and the mistrial is granted only after the verdict is returned, resulting in a new trial.
2. Whether it was prosecutorial misconduct warranting a mistrial for the prosecutor to have argued that the jury could find that the defendant was left-handed – and therefore inferably the author of a robbery note that the Commonwealth’s expert testified was written by a left hander – based solely on their observation of him taking notes left-handed in the courtroom, especially where it was doubtful and perhaps impossible based on the layout of the courtroom and other factors for the jurors to have been able to observe the defendant in that regard.
3. Whether, with the case in this procedural posture, the defendant is entitled to appellate review of the sufficiency of the evidence at the first trial, to ensure that he does not face a second trial when, allegedly, the evidence at the first trial was legally insufficient to support a conviction.
Frederick Clay vs. Chairman of Massachusetts Parole Board
Whether the application of G. L. c. 127, § 133A, as amended by St. 2012, c. 192, §§ 37 39, to parole hearings for persons convicted and sentenced prior to the effective date of the statute, violates ex post facto principles under the Federal or State Constitutions.
Commonwealth vs. Jason Denison
Whether an audio recording made by a gunshot detection and location system, which automatically records gun shots and other sounds in public places, violates the Massachusetts wiretap statute, G. L. c. 272, § 99, or art. 14 of the Declaration of Rights.
Limoliner, Inc. vs. Dattco, Inc.
“Does 940 C.M.R. § 5.05 [identifying certain unfair or deceptive acts or practices of motor vehicle repair shops] apply to transactions in which the customer is a business entity?” (Certified question)
January 2016 Announcements
Commonwealth vs. Raymond Paquette
1. In order to prove a violation of G. L. c. 268, § 13B (misleading a police officer in the course of a criminal investigation):
a. whether it is sufficient for the Commonwealth to prove that a defendant – who witnessed a crime – withheld from police his knowledge of the event by falsely stating his whereabouts at the time, denying having witnessed the event, and denying knowing who was responsible, or whether the Commonwealth is required to prove that he affirmatively supplied false information about the event; and
b. whether it is sufficient for the Commonwealth to establish that the defendant denied knowledge of the event in an attempt to distance himself from the investigation or to protect those who were involved, or whether, as the defendant contends, the Commonwealth must establish that he specifically intended to misdirect the police by leading them in a wrong direction (as opposed to no direction at all).
2. Whether by repeating the same statements to the officers on two separate occasions, in two separate interviews – in other words, sticking to his false account over the course of the two interviews – the defendant could be convicted of two counts of violating the statute.
December 2015 Announcements
Commonwealth vs. Imran Laltaprasad
Whether a sentencing judge has discretion to depart from the mandatory minimum terms specified in G. L. c. 94C, § 32 (b), and § 32A (d), under the sentencing guidelines recommended pursuant to G. L. c. 211E or otherwise.
SJC-12008 Commonwealth vs. Marcel Diggs
SJC-12009 Commonwealth vs. Damiane Soto
When a defendant has been charged with a qualifying offense under G. L. c. 276, § 58A (1), and the Commonwealth requests a dangerousness hearing, what constitutes being “held under arrest” for that offense for purposes of § 58A (4)?
Michael Parr & another vs. Daniel Rosenthal
1. Whether Massachusetts will recognize the “continuing treatment doctrine,” which tolls the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims (G. L. c. 260, § 4) while the plaintiff continues to receive treatment, for the same illness or injury, from the physician who is alleged to have been negligent.
2. Whether, under the continuing treatment doctrine, the statute is also tolled when the continuing treatment is provided not by the physician who is alleged to have caused the plaintiff’s harm, but by a physician who is a member of the same specialized practice group.
3. Whether, in such circumstances, the limitation period is tolled even though the plaintiff knows or reasonably should know that he or she has sustained appreciable harm as the result of the negligent physician’s conduct.
Robert Cantell & others vs. Commissioner of Correction & others
1. Whether a proposed class action commenced by prisoners to challenge their segregated confinement in so-called “special management units” while on “awaiting action” status is moot, where the named plaintiffs are no longer being held in those units.
2. Whether prisoners are entitled to the procedural protections of regulations governing “departmental segregation units,” see Haverty v. Commissioner of Correction, 437 Mass. 737 (2002), S.C., 440 Mass. 1 (2003), before being confined to special management units on awaiting action status, or whether they are entitled only to the procedures set forth in LaChance v. Commissioner of Correction, 463 Mass. 767, 776-777 (2012).
Helen Brown vs. Office of Commissioner of Probation
Whether a plaintiff who prevails against an office of the Commonwealth in an action under G. L. c. 151B, § 9, and is awarded punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and costs, is entitled to postjudgment interest on those awards, or, as the defendant contends, whether postjudgment interest is barred by sovereign immunity.
Karen Partanen vs. Julie Gallagher
1. Whether the plaintiff, whose same-sex partner gave birth to two children by artificial insemination with the plaintiff’s consent during their relationship, was entitled to assert a claim of parentage pursuant to G. L. c. 46, § 4B (“Any child born to a married woman as a result of artificial insemination with the consent of her husband, shall be considered the legitimate child of the mother and such husband”), even though the couple was not married.
2. Whether the plaintiff was entitled to assert a claim of parentage pursuant to G. L. c. 209C, the so-called “paternity” statute governing children born out of wedlock, even though she had no biological connection to the children.
3. Whether in these circumstances the plaintiff was entitled to assert a claim of full legal parentage, as opposed to de facto parentage, pursuant to the Probate and Family Court’s general equity jurisdiction, G. L. c. 215, § 6.
Massachusetts Insurers Insolvency Fund vs. Berkshire Bank
Whether the “high net worth insured” provisions of G. L. c. 175D, § 17, apply to a claim under a workers’ compensation policy; or in the words of the motion judge, “whether a Massachusetts employer that purchases workers’ compensation in compliance with G. L. c. 152 retains an obligation to pay its injured employee the benefits due under the workers’ compensation policy, if the insurer becomes insolvent and unable to pay the benefits.”
Shrine of Our Lady of LaSalette vs. Board of Assessors of Attleboro
Whether the property tax exemption for “houses of religious worship” under G. L. c. 59, § 5, Eleventh, applies to portions of a taxpayer’s property that are used in whole or in part for fundraising, charitable, and “ecospiritual” activities that the taxpayer maintains are part and parcel of its overall religious mission – e.g., a building leased to a nonprofit organization for use as a women’s shelter, maintenance buildings, gift shop, bistro, walking trails, and space leased to groups and individuals for assorted other activities.
Commonwealth vs. Josue R. Molina
Whether a search warrant is overbroad when it confers authority to search all computers in a multi-person unit, based on probable cause to believe that child pornography is being acquired via an Internet service account that is registered to one of the occupants and is shared wirelessly within the unit by the other occupants.
November 2015 Announcements
Commonwealth vs. James S. Winquist
Whether statements of a coconspirator offered by the Commonwealth were admissible against the defendant even though a substantial period of time (here, two years) had elapsed between the crime and the time that the coconspirator made the statements; whether, and if so how, any limitations period for charging the defendant with the underlying crime bears on the admissibility of the coconspirator’s statements.
Bank of America vs. Commissioner of Revenue
Whether, and if so in what circumstances, the Massachusetts fiduciary income tax, see G. L. c. 62, § 10, applies to corporate trustees that are neither incorporated in Massachusetts nor have their principal places of business here; whether, and if so how, the definition of “resident” or “inhabitant” in G. L. c. 62, § 1 (f) (2) (“any natural person who is not domiciled in the commonwealth but who maintains a permanent place of abode in the commonwealth and spends in the aggregate more than one hundred eighty-three days of the taxable year in the commonwealth”), applies to corporate trustees.
Bryan Corporation vs. Bryan Abano
Whether the judge erred in disqualifying counsel for the defendant because of his earlier representation of the plaintiff in a separate action, where counsel began his representation of the defendant before he withdrew from his representation of the plaintiff in the earlier action, but where, allegedly, there would be no harm to the plaintiff; whether, and if so in what circumstances, Massachusetts recognizes the so-called “hot potato” doctrine, which precludes an attorney from resolving a disqualifying conflict by dropping one client in favor of the other.
Commonwealth vs. Daniel Francis
Whether a defendant is entitled to a new trial on drug distribution and trafficking charges where certificates of drug analysis signed by Annie Dookhan were admitted in evidence at his jury trial, but where the defendant also admitted to police that he sold up to one-half a kilogram of cocaine every week.
Commonwealth vs. Donald Gibson
For the purpose of determining whether a defendant has forfeited his right to counsel in a probation violation proceeding, whether the judge may consider the defendant’s misconduct during the underlying pretrial and trial proceedings that led to his convictions; whether forfeiture may be applied in the absence of evidence of current acts of violence or threats of violence by the defendant.
Johnson Golf Mgt., Inc. v. Town of Duxbury & others
Whether, and if so in what circumstances, a municipality can be subject to suit under G. L. c. 93A; whether the town’s alleged noncompliance with G. L. c. 30B (uniform procurement act) in awarding the contract in this case subjected it to an action under G. L. c. 93A.
Commonwealth vs. Jared Abdallah
Whether the search of the defendant’s backpack at booking was a proper inventory search, where the backpack was unrelated to the offense for which he was arrested, he was wearing it at the time of the arrest, and the police seized it and brought it with the defendant to the police station, although a third party was available to hold the backpack for safekeeping at the time and place of the arrest; whether an inventory search of an arrestee’s personal items at booking is invalid if the police had no need to bring those items to the police station.
Commonwealth vs. Michael Boyd
Although the Commonwealth generally has authority to nol pros a conviction prior to sentencing, whether it may exercise that authority prior to resentencing on remand after appeal; and whether it may exercise that authority to nol pros the “second and subsequent” portion of the conviction in order to expose the defendant to a greater sentence than would be permitted under the sentencing enhancement provision for a “second or subsequent” offense (i.e., because the maximum sentence for the underlying crime is greater than the maximum under the enhancement provision).
October 2015 Announcements
Commonwealth vs. Admilson Resende
Whether a defendant is entitled to the conclusive presumption of egregious government misconduct established by Commonwealth v. Scott, 467 Mass. 336 (2014), in a case where Annie Dookhan did not sign the drug certificate but is shown to have performed some of the tasks of the confirmatory chemist.
Commonwealth vs. Glenis A. Adonsoto
1. Where a defendant consents to a breathalyzer exam, but then fails to furnish a breath sample that registers with the machine (allegedly because she does not follow the officer’s instructions on how properly to blow into the machine), whether testimony about the failure to furnish a usable sample constitutes inadmissible “refusal” evidence.
2. Whether a police officer’s testimony as to what the defendant was told by the officer through an interpreter, and what she said to the officer through the interpreter, was inadmissible hearsay and violated the defendant’s right of confrontation.
Marcia D. Bellermann & others vs. Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Co.
Whether the judge erred in granting the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification, under G. L. c. 93A, §§ 9 (2) & 11, in a case involving a mass power outage, where it is claimed that numerous residential and business customers of the defendant had paid for a level of emergency preparedness, efficient restoration, and accurate information that the defendant unfairly and deceptively failed to provide. See Bellermann v. Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Co., 470 Mass. 43, 54 n.10 (2014).
Katelynn Goodwin vs. Town of Lee & others
Whether a student who has been suspended from school by her principal must exhaust her remedies pursuant to G. L. c. 71, § 37H1/2 (appeal to school superintendent), and G. L. c. 249, § 4 (certiorari review), and seek to have the suspension overturned in that fashion, before she can maintain an action pursuant to G. L. c. 76, § 16, to recover in tort on a claim that she has been unlawfully excluded from school.
Ellen Duff Kareores vs. Christopher Kareores
When determining the “[l]ength of [a] marriage” as defined in G. L. c. 208, § 48, what constitutes proof “that the parties’ economic marital partnership began during their cohabitation period prior to marriage”; whether a claim of prenuptial “economic marital partnership” can be waived.
Commonwealth vs. Harvey J. Bigelow
Whether the criminal harassment statute, G. L c. 265, § 43A, prohibits the mailing of unsigned letters, which allegedly contain profane and derogatory comments, to an elected official and his spouse; whether c. 265, § 43A (a), is unconstitutional as applied to communications criticizing an elected official’s actions or qualifications for office.
Emma Gyulakian vs. Lexus of Watertown & another
Whether an employer can be held vicariously liable for punitive damages under G. L. c. 151B on account of the outrageous discriminatory conduct of its supervisor toward an employee; whether Massachusetts will follow the Federal rule in Title VII litigation that provides an employer with an affirmative defense against punitive damages if it can prove that it acted in good faith. See Kolstad v. American Dental Ass’n, 527 U.S. 526 (1999).
Isabel Kain & others vs. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Whether the Department of Environmental Protection has met its obligation under G. L. c. 21N, § 3 (d), to “promulgate regulations establishing a desired level of declining annual aggregate emission limits for sources or categories of sources that emit greenhouse gas emissions.”
Commonwealth vs. Thomas Gerhardt
Whether police officers may testify to the administration and results of standard field sobriety tests in prosecutions for operating under the influence of marijuana, as they do in prosecutions for operating under the influence of alcohol; whether the effects of marijuana consumption are within the common knowledge and experience of lay persons, such that a nonexpert witness may testify to his or her opinion that a person is “high” on marijuana; whether an officer who has not been qualified as an expert witness may testify as to the effects of marijuana on a person (e.g., bloodshot eyes, lack of coordination or balance, slowed speech and reaction times, paranoia, and “relaxed” responses); whether jurors may rely on their own experiences and common sense about the effects of marijuana, as they may do in prosecutions for operating under the influence of alcohol.
Commonwealth vs. Carlos Stevenson
Whether the judge erred in finding that the Commonwealth’s use entirely of hearsay evidence (i.e., the investigating police officer’s testimony) to obtain an indictment was, in the circumstances, “pernicious” and constituted the type of “extraordinary circumstance” that required dismissal of the indictment.
Commonwealth vs. William J. Sylvester
Whether the defendant was deprived of the effective assistance of counsel when he pleaded guilty in 2002 to a charge of indecent assault and battery, where his plea counsel allegedly did not explain to him adequately the consequences that such a plea would have under the sex offender registration and notification act, G. L. c. 6, § 178C et seq.; whether, as with immigration consequences, see Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010), plea attorneys must adequately advise their clients concerning consequences under the sex offender act.
Hugh C. Taylor & others vs. Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission
Whether Massachusetts should revisit the rule stated in Murphy v. Mart Realty of Brockton, Inc., 348 Mass. 675, 678-679 (1965), and henceforth permit the owner of a dominant estate to use an appurtenant easement also for the benefit of an after-acquired parcel that is contiguous to the dominant estate, where doing so would not increase the burden on the servient estate.
Commonwealth vs. Kim Henry
Where a defendant has been convicted of stealing from a retail store fungible items that the store had for sale, whether the proper measure of restitution is the wholesale value of the goods, the retail value, or some other measure; whether a judge abuses his discretion by making full restitution a condition of the defendant’s probation when the defendant has a demonstrated inability to pay.
Howard H. Bayless, administrator vs. T.T.S. Trio Corp. & others
Whether, in a dram shop action, the affidavit required to be filed pursuant to G. L. c. 231, § 60J (“setting forth sufficient facts to raise a legitimate question of liability appropriate for judicial inquiry”), must be based on the affiant’s personal knowledge; or whether, as here, an affidavit filed by the plaintiff’s counsel based on the results of his investigation – including facts gleaned from police reports, witness statements, medical records, and other information and belief – can satisfy the statute.
Commonwealth vs. Daisy Obi
1. Whether two of the probationary conditions imposed on the defendant as part of her sentence for an assault and battery on her tenant, a Muslim, violated the defendant’s statutory and constitutional rights, namely, that she “enroll [in] and attend an introductory course on Islam,” and that she make written disclosure to her tenants and prospective tenants that she “has been convicted of assaulting a tenant . . . and has had several harassment prevention orders issued against her.”
2. Whether the judge’s further statement at the sentencing hearing – i.e., “You have to respect the rights of people. You have to respect the rights of people of the Muslim faith. You have to respect all people” – if intended by the judge to be a condition of probation, was enforceable.
Mark Marchand vs. Department of Correction & another
Whether a Commonwealth employee entitled to receive assault pay pursuant to G. L. c. 30, § 58, is entitled to continue to receive such pay after he separates from employment with the Commonwealth, for so long as he is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits pursuant to G. L. c. 152, or whether his right to assault pay ceases with his separation from employment with the Commonwealth.
Commonwealth vs. Angelo Teixeira
Christopher A. Meade
In a prosecution commenced by complaint in the District Court or Municipal Court for crimes not within the final jurisdiction of the court, as to which the defendant has a right to be proceeded against by indictment, whether the Commonwealth can be ordered, in a judge’s discretion, to provide discovery to the defendant in advance of the probable cause hearing to be held pursuant to G. L. c. 276, § 38, and Mass. R. Crim. P. 3 (f).
Bank of America vs. Deborah A. Casey, trustee in bankruptcy
"1. May an affidavit executed and recorded pursuant to [G. L.] c. 183, § 5B, attesting to the proper acknowledgement of a recorded mortgage containing a Certificate of Acknowledgement that omits the name of the mortgagor, correct what the parties say is a material defect in the Certificate of Acknowledgement of that mortgage?
"2. May an affidavit executed and recorded pursuant to [G. L.] c. 183, § 5B, attesting to the proper acknowledgment of a recorded mortgage containing a Certificate of Acknowledgement that omits the name of the mortgagor, provide constructive notice of the existence of the mortgage to a bona fide purchaser, either independently or in combination with the mortgage." (Certified questions)
Commonwealth vs. Dwayne Moore
Whether the 2015 amendment to S.J.C. Rule 3:07 (Rules of Professional Conduct), Rule 3.5 – which provides in relevant part that “[a] lawyer shall not . . . communicate with a juror . . . after discharge of the jury if . . . the communication is prohibited by law or court order” – effectively superseded the holding in Commonwealth v. Fidler, 377 Mass. 192, 201-204 (1979), that counsel may not contact jurors after a verdict is rendered except as directed and supervised by the judge; if so, whether the rule now permits attorneys to initiate contact with jurors who were discharged prior to the effective date of the amendment.
Commonwealth vs. Nkrumah Hartfield
Whether a defendant at a probation violation hearing is denied due process – specifically, the opportunity to present witnesses and to confront and question witnesses against him – when, based on reliability of the hearsay evidence adduced by the Commonwealth but allegedly without a sufficient demonstration of good cause, the judge refuses to allow the defendant to call and question the alleged victim of the new crime that is alleged to be the basis of probation violation.
Commonwealth vs. Robert Wade
Whether, in order to obtain postconviction DNA testing under G. L. c. 278A – and specifically, in order to support a finding under c. 278A, § 7 (b) (3), “that the evidence or biological material has not been subjected to the requested analysis for any of the reasons in [c. 278A, § (3) (b) (5) (i)-(v)]” – it is sufficient for the defendant to establish “that the requested analysis had not yet been developed at the time of the conviction,” see c. 278A, § 3 (b) (5) (i), or whether the defendant must also show that a reasonably effective attorney would have in fact sought the analysis had it been available.
Drummer Boy Homes Assoc., Inc. vs. Carolyn P. Britton & others
Whether a new priority lien arises under G. L. c. 183A, § 6 (c), second par., each time a condominium association commences an action against a unit owner to enforce its lien for delinquent common expenses, such that the association can simultaneously have multiple priority liens against a single unit, each for a different six-month period – or whether, as the Appellate Division of the District Court held, the association’s lien has priority only with respect to amounts due for a single six-month period preceding the commencement of the first of the association’s multiple pending actions.
Roland Van Liew vs. Colleen Stansfield
1. Whether an appeal from an order of the District Court allowing a special motion to dismiss pursuant to G. L. c. 231, § 59H, should go to the Appellate Division of the District Court or directly to the Appeals Court; if the appeal is to the Appellate Division, which then reverses the order and remands the case to the District Court for trial, whether the moving party may immediately appeal from the Appellate Division’s decision to the Appeals Court under the doctrine of present execution or otherwise.
2. Whether statements made by the plaintiff, allegedly in the context of “political discourse,” could have qualified as acts of harassment for purposes of G. L. c. 258E; whether a request by the defendant, an elected official, for a harassment prevention order under c. 258E “was devoid of any reasonable factual support or any arguable basis in law” for purposes of the anti-SLAPP statute, G. L. c. 231, § 59H, where the plaintiff’s statements on which the request was based allegedly were “political speech” and made to express the plaintiff’s “version of what was happening in the town.”
Click here to see Amicus Announcements from September 2014 to August 2015.