File an Amicus Brief
Amicus briefs must comply with the requirements of Rules 17, 19, and 20 of the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure. In order to assist the court, amicus briefs should focus on the ramifications of a decision and not solely on the interests of amici.
Interested parties may file their briefs in the Supreme Judicial Court Clerk's Office for the Commonwealth.
1. Whether the Juvenile Court erred in ordering a hearing pursuant to Wallace W. v. Commonwealth, 482 Mass. 789 (2019), on the “six months or less” or “minor” misdemeanors brought against the juveniles; including, whether Wallace W. is applicable where a juvenile with no prior delinquency record is simultaneously charged with a minor misdemeanor and one or more major misdemeanors or felonies in connection with a single incident that constitutes the juvenile’s first instance of misconduct.
2. If the Juvenile Court properly ordered a Wallace W. hearing, whether the rules of evidence apply to such a hearing, and in particular, whether hearsay is admissible.
3. Whether the Juvenile Court erred in dismissing the felony charge for inciting a riot in violation of G. L. c. 264, § 11, against each of the four juveniles, over the objection of the Commonwealth, on the ground that the statute lacked vitality.
Commonwealth vs. Donte Henley
Commonwealth vs. Josiah Zachery
Whether a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in information relating to his or her use of a public transportation card known as a Charlie Card, or in any data the Charlie Card may contain or generate.
Commonwealth vs. Adrian B. Hinds
1. In the context of a defendant who claims to have been defending against a racially motivated attack, whether an analysis pursuant to Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993), and Commonwealth v. Lanigan, 419 Mass. 15, 25-26 (1994), applies to proposed expert testimony concerning the meaning or significance of a complainant's tattoo and its alleged association with racist ideology; whether the trial judge conflated the issue of reliability of methodology with reliability of result.
2. Whether the trial judge erred in denying the defendant the right to exercise a peremptory challenge after the jurors had been seated in the jury box, but before they sworn, and the juror he sought to challenge deliberated; where, prior to empanelment, a judge has not directed the parties to exercise their peremptory challenges at a particular time pursuant to Rule 6 of the Rules of the Superior Court, whether the judge erred in denying the defendant the right to exercise a peremptory challenge after the jurors had been seated in the jury box, but before they were sworn, pursuant to Mass. R. Crim. P. 20 (c)(2).
Commonwealth vs. Gabriel Lopez; and
Commonwealth vs. Jorden Xavier Terrell:
1. Whether a judge has authority to order credit for time served in pretrial detention where a juvenile has been convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm in violation of G. L. c. 269, § 10 (a), as a youthful offender and sentenced to an indefinite commitment to Department of Youth Services until the age of twenty-one.
2. Whether a Department of Youth Services policy or a judicial order of commitment that did not award credit for time served in pretrial detention would violate the requirements of due process and equal protection under the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.
Where the Sex Offender Registry Board initiates reclassification of a sex offender based on information indicating that the sex offender has been investigated for or charged with committing a new sex offense, what standard should be applied to the determination whether a new sex offense has been committed; what constitutes new evidence for purposes of the Sex Offender Registry Board’s authority to initiate an upward reclassification of a sex offender.
Commonwealth vs. Braulio Caliz
Where the defendant was convicted and sentenced on multiple drug-related charges, he served those sentences and was released; the defendant subsequently pleaded guilty to additional drug-related charges, including as a subsequent and habitual offender, he was sentenced and is currently serving that sentence; and, while serving the current sentence, certain of his prior convictions were vacated for reasons related to misconduct at the State Laboratory Institute in Amherst, whether the defendant is entitled to jail credit for the time he spent incarcerated on the vacated convictions, to be applied to the sentence he is currently serving. Whether the result depends on the date the crimes were committed.
Meaghan Fitzpatrick vs. Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers of New York, Inc. & others
In a civil case, where the defendant moved for a mistrial on the ground that the plaintiff’s closing argument was improper and the trial judge deferred ruling on the motion until after the jury returned its verdict, whether the judge should have treated the deferred motion as a motion for a new trial and should have expressly considered alternative remedial measures before declaring a mistrial.
Commonwealth vs. Dondre Snow
Whether the motion judge properly ruled that the search warrant affidavit did not establish a nexus between the defendant’s cell phone and the alleged homicide, where the affidavit stated that at the time of arrest, the defendant was talking on his cell phone to a third party who was not implicated in the offense but did not state that he was using it at the time of the offense or that he had used his cell phone to contact the victim at any time; whether the circumstances of the alleged offense, as set forth in the affidavit, warranted an inference that the defendant’s cell phone was used to plan and coordinate the shooting.
Constance M. Sullivan & another vs. Five Acres Realty Trust & others
1. Whether the defendants’ sale of their house to the plaintiffs was subject to the implied warranty of habitability, where the house was not newly constructed, but the defendants had performed extensive renovations, which the jury found contained latent defects that created a substantial question of safety or made the house unfit for human habitation; whether the defendants were builder-vendors in the circumstances of this case.
2. Whether the judge properly determined that the plaintiffs’ jury consultant’s expenses and expected contingency fee, in a total amount of $105,000, were not recoverable under G. L. c. 93A.
JoEllen Guilfoil vs. Secretary of the Executive Office of Health and Human Servs.
Where an applicant for MassHealth long-term care benefits is one of several beneficiaries of a real estate nominee trust; the applicant's beneficial interest in the trust consists of a life estate in the property; the other beneficiaries hold remainder interests in the property as joint tenants with rights of survivorship; and the nominee trust provides that it may be amended in a writing signed by all beneficiaries; whether the nominee trust is revocable and, therefore, the total value of the property is a countable asset for purposes of determining eligibility for MassHealth long-term care benefits.
Said S. Abuzahra & another vs. City of Cambridge:
Where property has been taken by eminent domain pursuant to G. L. c. 79, whether a landowner who accepts a pro tanto award for the taking may nevertheless continue to challenge the validity of the taking.
Commonwealth vs. Jorge Delgado-Rivera:
Whether an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of a sent text message received by a third party; whether an individual who sent a text message to a third party has standing to challenge a warrantless search of the third party's cellphone.
Seth Doull & others vs. Anna C. Foster, N.P. & another:
In a case involving multiple potential tortfeasors or potential causes of injury, whether "substantial contributing factor" may or must be used in lieu of "but for" in the causation jury instructions; whether the court should adopt a "factual cause" of harm standard, as provided in sections 26 and 27 of the Restatement (Third) of Torts (2005).
Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless & others vs. City of Fall River & others:
Whether G. L. c. 85. § 17A, known as the "Panhandling Statute," is unconstitutional insofar as it imposes a fine on an individual who, for the "purpose of soliciting any alms, . . . signals a moving vehicle on any public way or causes the stopping of a vehicle thereon, or accosts any occupant of a vehicle stopped thereon at the direction of a police officer or signal man, or of a signal or device for regulating traffic," but permits individuals to engage in the same conduct for the purpose of engaging in other forms of expression.
Brian Racine vs. Department of Correction & others:
1. Where the Commissioner of the Department of Correction has denied a prisoner's petition for medical parole made pursuant to G. L. c. 127, § 119A, and where the prisoner seeks judicial review of the decision pursuant to G. L. c. 127, § 119A (g), whether the prisoner's death renders the judicial proceedings moot.
2. Whether 501Code Mass. Regs. 17.14 (4), and 103 DOC 603.11, which provide that where the Commissioner has denied a prisoner's petition for medical parole the prisoner may seek reconsideration if he or she suffers a material decline in health, preclude a prisoner from submitting a new petition for medical parole rather than a request for reconsideration.
3. Whether G. L. c. 127, § 119A, applies only to committed offenders serving a sentence of imprisonment or whether it also applies to individuals held in pretrial custody.
Maureen Blake & others vs. Hometown America Communities & others
Whether the motion judge erred in granting summary judgment for the plaintiffs, and denying summary judgment for the defendants, under G. L. c. 140, § 32L, and G. L. c. 93A; including, whether the motion judge erred in concluding that the plaintiffs were in a “similar class” for purposes of G. L. c. 140, § 32L (2), with tenants who resided in the community before the defendants acquired it; and whether the motion judge erred in granting damages to certain plaintiffs who rented out -- and thus did not reside in -- their units during the relevant time period.
Psychemedics Corporation vs. City of Boston & another
Whether the motion judge erred in granting summary judgment for Psychemedics; including, whether the motion judge erred in concluding that the city was precluded from enforcing the indemnification provision of its contract with Psychemedics on the grounds that the city failed to provide Psychemedics with an opportunity to assume the defense of the litigation, and whether the city’s contract with Psychemedics provides the city with a basis for recovery independent of the indemnification clause.
Patricia M. Dunn vs. Genzyme Corporation
Whether the Superior Court erred in denying the defendant’s motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint alleging injury from a Class III medical device subject to the Federal Food and Drug Administration’s premarket approval process; including, whether the plaintiff’s allegations were sufficient to avoid Federal preemption of the plaintiff’s so-called “parallel” State law claims pursuant to 21 U.S.C. § 360k(a).
Alexander Styller vs. Lynnfield Zoning Board of Appeals & another
Whether the plaintiff’s short-term rentals of his personal residence (via Airbnb or a similar platform) was a prior nonconforming use that he was entitled to continue after the zoning by-law was amended to prohibit rentals of less than thirty days in a residential district.
Commonwealth vs. Gadiel Ramos-Cabrera
Whether the defendant was entitled to a required finding of not guilty on a charge of distribution of heroin within one hundred feet of a public park on the ground that the property in question was not a “park” within the meaning of G. L. c. 94C, § 32J, where the property was in a state of disrepair, the city was prohibited from having activities on the property or from turning the soil due to contamination, and there was no evidence that children continued to use the property as a park.
Commonwealth vs. Nelson Mora & others:
Where, without prior judicial approval or notice to the defendants, "pole cameras" were installed on fixed points on telephone and electric poles in public locations near the defendants' residences or a street associated with one or more of the defendants; the cameras captured video but not audio; investigators could view the video from a web-based browser in real time, or search and review previously recorded footage; and the cameras had remote zoom and angle movement capabilities, and enabled investigators to view license plates and faces in real time, but not inside any residence; whether the data obtained from the "pole cameras" must be suppressed.
Nextera Energy Resources, LLC & others vs. Department of Public Utilities:
Whether three power purchase agreements between Massachusetts electric distribution companies and HQ Energy Services (U.S.) Inc., complied with section 83D of an Act Relative to Green Communities, St. 2008, c. 169, and 220 Code Mass. Regs. 24, et seq.
Where the Commonwealth sought and received a judicial order immunizing a police officer and compelling the officer to testify before a grand jury, whether a Brady obligation in an unrelated case is triggered by that testimony; if so, whether the Commonwealth must seek prior judicial approval or whether the information may be disclosed "in the performance of [the prosecutor's] official duties," Mass. R. Crim. P. 5 (d), as appearing in 442 Mass. 1505 (2004); whether the Commonwealth may disclose the grand jury testimony to the police officer's employer with or without judicial approval.
Benjamin Locke Weiner & others vs. Attorney General & others:
Whether the Attorney General properly certified Initiative Petition No. 19-14, "An Initiative Petition for a Law Relative to the Sale of Beer and Wine by Food Stores," for inclusion on the Statewide ballot in November, 2020.
Liz D'Allessandro & others vs. Lennar Hingham Holdings, LLC
The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts certified the following question to this court:
"Where the factual record supports the conclusion that a builder or developer was engaged in the continuous construction of a single condominium development comprising multiple buildings or phases, when does the six-year period for an action of tort relating to the construction of the condominium's common or limited common elements start running?"
In an involuntary civil commitment case, whether, for purposes of the second prong of the definition of "likelihood of serious harm," G. L. c. 123, § 1, the requirement that "others are placed in reasonable fear of violent behavior and serious physical harm to them," is objective or subjective in nature; whether, for purposes of the third prong of the definition of "likelihood of serious harm," homelessness is a factor that may support a finding of a "very substantial risk" harm.
William Dinkins & another vs. Massachusetts Parole Board
Whether 120 Code Mass. Regs. § 200.08 (3) (c), which concerns parole eligibility for inmates sentenced to a prison term that runs consecutive to a life sentence, conflicts with the statutory framework governing parole, violates due process or separation of powers principles, or, as applied to prisoners serving life sentences for offenses committed as juvenile, violates the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution or art. 26 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.
Whether, in a proceeding concerning the care and protection of a child, the mother’s domestic violence counselor was wrongly allowed to testify to the mother’s confidential communications, where such communications are privileged under G. L. c. 233, § 20K; whether the mother waived the privilege by signing releases allowing her domestic violence counselor to communicate with two named DCF social workers involved with her case.
Commonwealth vs. Francis X. Harding, Jr.
Whether the defendant, a sex offender subject to registration with the Sex Offender Registry Board, was obligated to register his customers’ home address as a place of employment, where the defendant performed services there as a home-improvement contractor but maintained a workshop at his home in another town.
Whether the defendant violated the probation condition that he not “work, volunteer, [or] reside with children under 16 years old” by working on-site at his customers’ residence while the owners’ infant child was present, where the defendant had no contact with the child.
Commonwealth vs. Keyshaun Taylor
1. “Is G. L. c. 269, § 10 (n), a freestanding crime?”
2. “Is G. L. c. 269, § 10 (a), a lesser included offense of G. L. c. 269, § 10 (n), under Morey v. Commonwealth, 108 Mass. 433 (1871)?”
3. “In the context of double jeopardy, is the doctrine of judicial estoppel applicable as against a defendant?”
4. “[D]id the court, in the circumstances of this case, properly conclude that the Commonwealth may proceed upon a complaint charging the defendant with a violation of G. L. c. 269, § 10 (a), without violating the defendant’s protections afforded under principles of double jeopardy?”
(Questions reported by the trial judge. Note that this case will be argued at the court’s April, 2020, sitting, together with SJC‑12874, Commonwealth vs. Lee Ashford.)
Commonwealth vs. Ervin Feliz
Whether a probation condition authorizing random searches of a defendant's electronic devices is valid so long as it is reasonably related to the goals of the defendant's probation, or whether, because the condition authorizes searches in the absence of reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing, it violates art. 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.
Estate of Jacqueline Ann Kendall vs. Executive Office of Health and Human Services
Whether MassHealth is entitled to recover benefits from a decedent's estate claimed more than three years after the decedent's death; including, whether the Uniform Probate Code, G. L. c. 190B, § 3-108, precludes such recovery; or whether G. L. c. 190B, § 803 (f), creates an exception to the limitation on presentation of claims set forth in G. L. c. 190B, § 3-108.
Daniel Wright v. Central Mutual Ins. Co. & another
Whether the reviewing board of the Department of Industrial Accidents properly determined that the defendants were not required to reimburse the plaintiff for medical marijuana expenses; including, whether the Federal Controlled Substances Act preempts Massachusetts law to the extent it would otherwise require such reimbursement.
Christopher P. Kauders & another v. Uber Technologies Inc. & another
Whether, under Massachusetts law, a binding agreement was formed when the plaintiffs completed the registration process for the smartphone application offered by the defendant Uber Technologies, Inc., enabling riders to request rides from registered drivers; including, whether the arbitration clause in the purported agreement was enforceable.
Matter of a Juvenile:
- Whether conducting an evidentiary transfer hearing under G. L. c. 119, § 72A, is constitutionally permissible where the subject of the hearing has been declared incompetent to stand trial.
- If it is not per se unconstitutional to conduct a § 72A transfer hearing with regard to an incompetent individual, whether it is constitutionally permissible to conduct such a hearing in the petitioner's case.
- If the court concludes that holding a § 72A hearing in this case is constitutionally permissible, either per se or as applied to the petitioner, whether and at what point do the provisions of G. L. c. 123, § 16 (f), or principles of due process and equal protection, permit or require the charges against the petitioner to be dismissed.
- If it is constitutionally permissible to conduct such a hearing, whether additional procedures and protections are required, and if so, what are those procedures and protections?
Harry De Prins vs. Michael J. Michaeles, Trustee of the Donald Belanger Irrevocable Trust dated October 28, 2008, & another:
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit certified the following question to this court:
"On the undisputed facts of this record, does a self-settled spendthrift irrevocable trust that is governed by Massachusetts law and allowed unlimited distributions to the settlor during his lifetime protect assets in the irrevocable trust from a reach and apply action by the settlor's creditors after the settlor's death?"
Commonwealth vs. Edward Long:
In the context of a motion to suppress evidence, where the defendant driver alleges that race was a factor in the traffic stop at issue, and challenges the traffic stop based on equal protection ground, whether pursuant to Commonwealth v. Lora, 451 Mass. 425 (1996), the defendant driver produced "sufficient evidence to raise a reasonable inference," id. at 442, that the traffic stop at issue "is the product of the selective enforcement predicated on race," id. at 440; whether the framework outlined in Commonwealth v. Lora, 451 Mass. 425 (1996), for addressing the issue of pretextual traffic stops motivated by race should be revised; what standard should be applied to the determination whether a hearing is required.
Bank of New York Mellon vs. Alton King, Jr. & others
Where a defendant's appeal bond has been waived in a post-foreclosure summary process action, whether, pursuant to G. L. c. 239, §§ 5 and 6, the defendant can be ordered to make "use and occupancy" or rental payments during the pendency of the appeal.
Commonwealth vs. Charles Bohigian
Where G. L. c. 90, § 24 (1) (e) and (f), provide that when an individual is arrested for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a blood analysis test made by or at the direction of a police officer must be done with the individual's consent and that if no consent is given, the test shall not be done, whether if the police officer secures a warrant for the test, on the basis of probable cause, the test can be performed regardless whether the individual has consented.
Denise Doherty vs. Massachusetts Civil Service Commission & another
Where G. L. c. 31, § 43, provides that hearings before the Massachusetts Civil Service Commission " shall be public if either party so requests in writing," whether there are any circumstances, such as the use of Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) as evidence during the hearing, that override the requirement of a public hearing; and whether where a party requests a public hearing but the hearing is nonetheless closed, whether the closure is a per se violation of the requesting party's rights warranting a new hearing or whether the party must demonstrate prejudice resulting from the closure.
Mark Mendes vs. Fidelity & Guaranty Insurance Company & another
Whether and in what circumstances the “localization” doctrine permits jurisdiction in Massachusetts over a workers’ compensation claim, where the employee, a truck driver, lives in Massachusetts, was hired in Pennsylvania, drives his truck both within and outside Massachusetts, was permitted to park his truck in Massachusetts, and was injured in Maine.
Dorchester Mutual Insurance Company vs. Timothy Krusell & others
Where an insurance policy contains an exclusion barring coverage for bodily injury arising from, inter alia, “physical . . . abuse,” whether coverage is barred in the circumstances of this case for a claim arising from a single incident in which the insured committed an assault and battery on a third party and unintentionally caused bodily injuries.
Whether, under G. L. c. 210, § 1, the Probate and Family Court has jurisdiction over a petition for adoption where the petitioner, who is the child’s biological father and is named as the child’s parent on her birth certificate, lives outside the United States with the child and his same-sex partner, and the child was born out of wedlock to a gestational carrier who lives in Massachusetts. See G. L. c. 209C, § 10 (b).
Elmer Donis & others vs. American Waste Services, LLC & others
Whether an employee claiming to be aggrieved by a violation of the Prevailing Wage Act, G. L. c. 149, § 27F, may, in addition to raising a claim under that provision, also raise a claim under the Wage Act, G. L. c. 149, § 148, pursuant to which individual corporate officers may be held individually liable.
Commonwealth vs. Khamal McCalop
Whether the judge erred or abused her discretion in denying the defendant’s motion for a new trial without a hearing; including, whether the defendant’s guilty pleas were rendered involuntary by the judge’s participation in plea bargaining, in conjunction with her handling of the defendant’s motions regarding a juror’s allegation that racial bias infected jury deliberations at the defendant’s trial.
Mark S. Tinsley vs. Town of Framingham & others:
Whether principles similar to those described in Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U.S. 477 (1994), apply to claims brought under State law and the Massachusetts Civil Rights Act.
Commonwealth vs. Tykorie Evelyn
Whether, in all the circumstances of this case involving a street encounter between police officers and the defendant (a seventeen-year-old African-American male), a seizure of the defendant occurred when a police officer exited his vehicle in pursuit of him after attempting to speak with him; whether the moment of seizure should be determined from the perspective of a reasonable African-American boy. See Commonwealth v. Matta (SJC-12693).
Whether the defendant’s behavior gave rise to reasonable suspicion that he was engaged in any crime when he was seized, where he was in the vicinity of a reported shooting and assumed a “bladed” stance (i.e., turned his body so as to keep one side further away from the police), and where the defendant’s expert witness testified that to date, there was no research showing that a “bladed” stance is a reliable indicator that a person is concealing a weapon.
Whether the motion judge properly rejected expert testimony concerning “stereotype threat,” i.e., a person’s exhibiting certain behaviors or discomfort due to fear of being stereotyped in a negative way rather than due to consciousness of guilt.
Whether the Superior Court abused its discretion in granting a preliminary injunction to allow a student to return to high school after she was suspended for 112 days for possessing marijuana; including, whether the Superior Court erred in determining that a superintendent does not have the authority to designate another school administrator to conduct an appeal hearing and render a decision on an appeal of a long-term suspension or expulsion under G. L. c. 71, § 37H.
John Doe, M.D. vs. Board of Registration in Medicine:
1. Where Doe seeks to (a) enjoin the Board of Registration in Medicine from pursuing disciplinary proceedings against him based on certain alleged criminal conduct, the record of which has been sealed; or, alternatively, (b) to enjoin the board from publicly disseminating information about the sealed record during the course of the disciplinary proceedings, whether G. L. c. 249, § 4, is an appropriate vehicle for Doe to purse the relief he seeks, or is G. L. c. 231A (or some other type of claim) the appropriate vehicle.
2. Do the Massachusetts sealing statutes, G. L. c. 276, §§ 100A-100C, as amended in 2018, prohibit the Board of Registration in Medicine from using a criminal record that has been sealed pursuant to G. L. c. 276, § 100C, in disciplinary proceedings before the board. If not, how specifically may the record be used, e.g., may the board place all or parts of the sealed record in evidence at the disciplinary hearing, or refer to it in statements at the hearing, or include such information in other board documents that are matters of public record, such as the statement of allegations against Doe?
3. Would an interpretation of the Massachusetts sealing statutes, G. L. c. 276, §§ 100A-100C, as amended in 2018, that permits the Board of Registration in Medicine to make public information regarding a record that has been sealed pursuant to G. L. c. 276, §100C, violate Doe's rights to due process or equal protection under the State or Federal constitutions?
Mark R. Thompson & others vs. JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.:
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit certified the following question to the court:
"Did the statement in the August 12, 2016, default and acceleration notice that 'you can still avoid foreclosure by paying the total past-due amount before a foreclosure sale takes place' render the notice inaccurate or deceptive in a manner that renders the subsequent foreclosure sale void under Massachusetts law?"
Philip Landry vs. Transworld Systems, Inc.
Where a creditor has hired a debt collection agency to collect debt from a consumer and where the consumer has commenced an action against the debt collection agency claiming unfair debt collection practices, whether the debt collection agency can compel arbitration pursuant to an agreement between the consumer and the creditor where the debt collection agency is not a signatory to that agreement.
Dale Young vs. State Board of Retirement
Where a state employee whose eligibility for retirement benefits is based in part on years of creditable service as a contract employee and in part on years of service as a regular employee, whether the employee's compensation earned as a contract employee (which was higher than the compensation earned as a regular employee) can be considered for purposes of calculating retirement benefits.
SJC-12816 Commonwealth vs. Marlana L. Ellsworth
SJC-12815 Commonwealth vs. Andrew M. Rossetti
SJC-12814 Commonwealth vs. Devonaire X. Beverly
Whether, under G. L. c. 278, § 18, and article 30 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, a judge may lawfully enter a continuance without a finding followed by an immediate dismissal (or order that the case be dismissed later the same day or the following day) without probationary conditions.
Whether the Commonwealth may challenge such a disposition by filing a motion to revise or revoke a sentence pursuant to Mass. R. Crim. P. 29.
These three cases will be argued together.
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