Amicus Announcements from September 2019 to August 2020

From time to time, the Supreme Judicial Court solicits amicus ("friend of the court") briefs or memoranda from parties not directly involved in a case, but that may have an interest or opinion about a case pending before the court.

Table of Contents

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.

February 2020

SJC-12890
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.

SJC-12886
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. 

SJC-12869
Impounded

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.

SJC-12885
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. 

SJC-12891
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?"

SJC-12872
Impounded

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.

January 2020

SJC-12882     
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.

SJC-12880     
Impounded

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.

SJC-12875     
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.

SJC-12877     
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.)

SJC-12879
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.

SJC-12881     
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.

SJC-12873     
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.

SJC-12883     
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.

SJC-12860
Matter of a Juvenile:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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?

SJC-12865
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?"

SJC-12868
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.

December 2019

SJC-12859
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. 

SJC-12858
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.

SJC-12855
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.

SJC-12857
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.

SJC-12856
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.

SJC-12846
Impounded

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).

November 2019

SJC-12842
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.

SJC-12845
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.

October 2019

SJC-12826
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.

SJC-12808
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.

SJC-12827
Impounded

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.

September 2019

SJC-12817
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? 

SJC-12798
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?"

SJC-12813
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.

SJC-12809
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.

Contact

Phone

Open Mon. - Fri. (except holidays), 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Clerk Francis V. Kenneally (617) 557-1188
Assistant Clerk Maura A. Looney (617) 557-1189
Case & Procedures Coordinator Charlotte M. Houlihan (617) 557-1075

Online

Clerk Francis V. Kenneally Francis.Kenneally@jud.state.ma.us
Assistant Clerk Maura A. Looney Maura.Looney@jud.state.ma.us
Case & Procedures Coordinator Charlotte M. Houlihan Charlotte.Houlihan@jud.state.ma.us

Fax

Main 617-557-1145

*Please note faxes, emails and attached documents shall not be accepted for filing in new or existing cases unless they concern credible emergency circumstances and you have obtained expressed permission in advance from the Clerk or an Assistant Clerk.

Address

Main Office
John Adams Courthouse
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Boston, MA 02108
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