Amicus Announcements from September 2022 to August 2023

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.

August 2023

SJC-13470    
Jane Doe vs. Massachusetts Trial Court Department

Whether, under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, G. L. c. 258, § 10 (b) and (j),  the Trial Court is immune from suit for negligence arising from its alleged failure to protect the plaintiff from sexual assaults by a court officer when she was detained on criminal charges.

SJC-13476          
Impounded

1. Where a juvenile has been charged in a delinquency complaint, or as a youthful offender; and where the juvenile has been found incompetent to stand trial, whether the court has the authority to order competency remediation in the absence of a remediation statute and where there is currently no program or process for juvenile competency remediation.

2. Where a juvenile or youthful offender has been found incompetent to stand trial, who bears the burden to show that the incompetency is remediable and by what standard of proof.  (Note that this case will be argued with SJC-13466, Commonwealth v Armani M. Huacon). 

SJC-13466    
Commonwealth vs. Armani M. Huacon

1. Where the defendant, who has been indicted as a youthful offender and held on dangerousness grounds, has been found incompetent to stand trial by reason of a learning or cognitive disability and has been released pursuant to Abbott A. v. Commonwealth, 458 Mass. 24 (2010), whether the court has authority to order the defendant to engage in competency remediation treatment, and if so, how a competency remediation plan shall be fashioned.

2. Where the defendant has not requested funds for remediation treatment, whether the court has the authority under Mass. R. Crim. P. 41 to fund such treatment from its own budget, and if not, what the source of funding for such treatment shall be.

SJC-13472   
Henry H. Wortis & others vs. The Trustees of Tufts College

Whether the grant of tenure to the plaintiff faculty members provided them with enforceable contractual rights to academic freedom and economic security, and if so, whether those rights were violated when the Trustees of Tufts College adopted policies that required the plaintiffs to cover a significant percentage of their salaries through external grant funding and imposed consequences for noncompliance, including reduction or closure of the plaintiffs’ laboratory space, reduction of their compensation, and reduction of their full-time employment status to part-time.

SJC-13473    
Amy Sue Openshaw vs. Glenn Romney Openshaw

Whether a spouse's need for support under general term alimony should be ascertained by looking at the parties' spending at the time of the separation leading to divorce; whether, for purposes of determining alimony, a spouse's need may include "savings alimony" and charitable contribution components.

SJC-13469     
Joni Babaletos vs. DeMoulas Super Markets, Inc. & others

1. Whether, or under what circumstances, a trial judge may impose a total time limit for the presentation of evidence at trial.

2. If a trial judge may impose a total time limit for the presentation of evidence at trial, whether that decision is an evidentiary ruling or a trial administration matter; whether, to preserve an objection to the imposition of time limits, an offer of proof is required as to what additional specific evidence would have been offered or elicited if more time was permitted; whether a party challenging the imposition of time limits must demonstrate prejudice.

SJC-13465     
Impounded Case

Whether the statute governing sealing of delinquency files or records, G. L. c. 276, § 100B, applies to youthful offender charges and adjudications, or whether such records may be sealed only pursuant to G. L. c. 276, § 100A.

SJC-13468    
Erick Mack vs. Office of the District Attorney of the Bristol District     

Whether the Superior Court erred in granting summary judgment to the plaintiff in an action challenging the refusal of the Office of the District Attorney for Bristol County to produce certain records in response to the plaintiff’s request under the public records law, including:  (1) whether interviews, photographs, videos, and other records obtained or produced in the course of investigating an officer-involved shooting fall under the statutory exemptions for unwarranted invasion of privacy, see G. L. c. 4, § 7, cl. twenty-sixth (c), investigatory materials, see G. L. c. 4, § 7, cl. twenty-sixth (f), or deliberative materials, see G. L. c. 4, § 7, cl. twenty-sixth (d), in light of recent amendments to the public records law, see Stat. 2020, c. 253, § 2 (adding language to the privacy exemption in cl. twenty-sixth (c), stating that "this subclause shall not apply to records related to a law enforcement misconduct investigation"); and whether the Legislature's grant of authority to the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission was intended to create the exclusive avenue for members of the public to obtain access to the names of law enforcement officers under investigation.

June 2023

SJC-13315  
Commonwealth vs. Carlos Guardado

Whether the court should continue to hold that the remedy in Commonwealth v. Guardado, 491 Mass. 666, 686-687 (2023), for an erroneous jury instruction relieving the Commonwealth of the burden of proving absence of firearm licensure is vacatur of the conviction and remand for entry of a judgment of acquittal.  See Commonwealth v. Munoz, 384 Mass. 503, 510 (1981).  See also Commonwealth v. Beal, 474 Mass. 341, 353-354 (2016).  Or, should the court consider the jury instruction, which conformed to controlling precedent at the time, to be trial error that results in vacatur of the conviction and remand for a new trial.  See Commonwealth v. Repoza, 400 Mass. 516, 520,522 (1987); Commonwealth v. Rembiszewski, 391 Mass. 123, 126, 135 (1984).  See also United States v. Reynoso, 38 F.4th 1083, 1090-1091 (D.C. Cir. 2022).

SJC-13460   
Bristol Asphalt Co., Inc. et al vs. Rochester Bituminous Products, Inc., et al

Whether to revisit the existing framework for assessing special motions to dismiss filed under the anti-SLAPP statute, G. L. c. 231, § 59H; including, with respect to stage two, (a) whether a non-movant must show that every single alleged act of petitioning was a sham in order to meet its burden under the first path; (b) whether to revisit the existing standard of proof, as set forth in Baker v. Parsons, 434 Mass. 543, 553-554 (2001), or consider alternative standards of proof, including, e.g., a prima facie standard, for assessing whether a non-movant has met its burden under the first path; and (c) whether to retain the second path, as set forth in Blanchard v. Steward Carney Hosp., Inc., 477 Mass. 141, 160-161 (2017), by which a non-movant may meet its burden. (Note that this case will be argued with SJC-13405, Columbia Plaza Associates, Inc. vs. Northeastern University, et al).

SJC-13456 
Atlantic Importing Company, Inc. vs. American Arbitration Association & another  &

SJC-13457 
Atlantic Importing Company, Inc. vs. Jack’s Abby Brewing, LLC

Whether G. L. c. 138, § 25 E 1/2, violates the jury trial provision of article 15 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights by requiring a non-consenting wholesaler to submit to arbitration to determine the compensation due after termination of its distribution rights by a brewery.

SJC-13455  IMPOUNDED:

Whether the District Court erred or abused its discretion in ordering that the defendant be hospitalized involuntarily for a period of twenty days pursuant to G. L. c. 123, § 15 (b), including:  (1) whether a finding that hospitalization is "necessary" to further evaluate a defendant's competency under § 15 (b) requires a finding that the defendant poses a likelihood of serious harm; and (2) whether § 15 (b) is unconstitutional either on its face or as applied to this defendant.

SJC-13454 
Commonwealth vs. Warren W. Dunn           

Whether the Superior Court erred in denying the defendant's motion to suppress and motion for a Franks hearing, including:  (1) whether the magistrate who issued the challenged search warrant was required personally to view the images whose alleged lewdness formed the basis for the probable cause determination; (2) whether the motion judge was required to view those same images before ruling on the defendant's motion for a Franks hearing; and (3) whether the search warrant in this case was supported by probable cause. 

SJC-13446     
Commonwealth vs. Raymond Gaines

Where the defendant was convicted of murder in the first degree and armed robbery in 1976, whether the motion judge properly allowed his motion for a new trial on the grounds that (1) newly discovered evidence shows that an eyewitness’s identification of the defendant was produced by highly suggestive procedures and should not have been presented to the jury, (2) expert testimony concerning eyewitness identifications constitutes newly discovered evidence that would have been a real factor in the jury’s deliberations, (3) the Commonwealth failed to produce exculpatory evidence in its possession, namely, an affidavit by a key witness recanting his testimony, evidence of misconduct by a police witness, and other notes and records in the possession of the Boston police department.

SJC-13445     
Commonwealth vs. Jean Rezac      

Whether the trial judge erred in assessing whether the Commonwealth had met its burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was criminally responsible, including: (1) whether, under the first prong of the two-pronged test discussed in Commonwealth v. Goudreau, 422 Mass. 731 (1996), the Commonwealth must prove that the defendant had the substantial capacity to appreciate both the criminality and the wrongfulness of her conduct, or whether the Commonwealth need only prove that the defendant had the substantial capacity to appreciate either the criminality or the wrongfulness of her conduct; and (2) whether the Commonwealth presented sufficient evidence of the defendant’s criminal responsibility to sustain its burden under both prongs of the applicable standard. 

SJC-13437     
Conrad Murphy v. Commissioner of Correction & others

Whether the provisions of the medical parole statute, G. L. c. 127, § 119A, apply to a person who has been civilly committed as a sexually dangerous person, pursuant to G. L. c. 123A, and who is not presently serving a criminal sentence.

SJC-13438     
Commonwealth v. Mark Davidson

Whether the provision in G. L. c. 151B, § 5, requiring in certain cases of alleged discriminatory housing practices that 'the attorney general shall commence and maintain, a civil action on behalf of the complainant in the superior court for the county in which the unlawful practice occurred,' means that such an action may be maintained only in the Superior Court and cannot be transferred to the Housing Court under G.L. c. 185C, § 20, even if otherwise within the latter court's jurisdiction under G. L. c. 185C, § 3.

SJC-13435     
Spencer Solar Farm, LLC v. Zoning Board Of Appeals Of Spencer & others

1. Where an entity was granted a special permit in connection with a solar energy facility, whether the permit holder made "substantial use" of the special permit when it applied for and obtained site plan approval within the lapse period.

2. Whether site plan approval lapsed because the permit holder did not commence construction of the solar energy facility within two years of the issuance of that site plan approval. 

3. Whether the Land Court has subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate disputes arising out of a municipality's general bylaws that concern land use but do not concern zoning.

SJC-13434     
Six Brothers, Inc. d/b/a Brookline Sunoco & others v. Town Of Brookline & others

1. Whether a municipality's by-law prohibiting the sale of tobacco or e-cigarettes to any person born on or after January 1, 2000, is preempted by G. L. c. 270, § 6 (b), because it "relate[es] to the minimum sales age to purchase tobacco," and is "inconsistent, contrary or conflicting" with the minimum age for purchasing such products contained in the statute.

 2. Whether a municipality's by-law prohibiting the sale of tobacco or e-cigarettes to any person born on or after January 1, 2000, violates the equal protection guarantees set forth in the Massachusetts Constitution because it arbitrarily divides the adult population into two groups, and allows retailers to sell tobacco products only to the group born before January 1, 2000. 

SJC-13439     
Estate of Mason

1. Whether a lien recorded by MassHealth on real property owned by a Medicaid recipient who is institutionalized, pursuant to G. L. c. 118E, § 34, dissolves automatically on the recipient's death by operation of G. L. c. 118E, § 31 (d).

2. Whether the three-year limitations period provided in G. L. c. 190B, § 3-108, applies retroactively to bar MassHealth's claim against the estate of a decedent who died before the effective date of the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code, where probate was commenced more than three years after that effective date.

May 2023

SJC-13433
Commonwealth vs. Warrens Gelin            

Whether the motion judge erred in denying the probationer's motion for a new revocation hearing premised on ineffective assistance of counsel, including: (1) whether counsel's performance was deficient for failing to file a motion to suppress the fruits of the alleged unreasonable and racially-biased motor vehicle stop, exit orders, and subsequent searches, either because these actions constituted (a) a violation of the Fourth Amendment and/or art. 14, see Commonwealth v. Olsen, 405 Mass 491 (1989); or (b) a violation of equal protection principles under the Federal and State constitutions, see Commonwealth v. Long, 485 Mass. 711 (2020), and its progeny; and (2) whether this court should reconsider or modify the rule set forth in Olsen, supra, regarding the applicability of the exclusionary rule to probation revocation proceedings, on the basis of, among other things, (a) changed circumstances regarding the ability of law enforcement to access data regarding the probation status of individuals in real time, (b) the alleged disparate impact of the Olsen rule on racial minorities, and/or (c) to clarify the rule’s applicability to motions to suppress that are based on alleged equal protection violations.

SJC-13432
Commonwealth v. David E. Canjura

The Justices are soliciting amicus briefs.  Whether G. L. c. 269, § 10 (b), violates the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution insofar as it prohibits the defendant from carrying a switchblade knife.

SJC-13436
Thomas Gibney vs. John A. Hossack

Where a testator's will includes words of survivorship such as "if [he or she] survives me" in connection with a bequest, whether, pursuant to the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code, the words of survivorship are a sufficient indication of an intent contrary to the application of the anti-lapse statute, G. L. c. 190B, § 2-603.

SJC-13440
Fallon Community Health Plan, Inc. vs. Shanika Jefferson & another

Whether the employee committed deliberate misconduct in willful disregard of her employer’s interests, where she refused to receive a COVID-19 vaccine due to her sincere religious objections.

Whether the employer’s COVID-19 vaccination policy was reasonable, where it contained an exemption for objections based on a sincere religious belief, provided that the employer could offer a reasonable accommodation to avoid risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 on the job.

SJC-13430
Commonwealth vs. Denzel McFarlane

Whether, under Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963), and its progeny, the Commonwealth was obligated to disclose, as exculpatory evidence, information known by a police witness concerning then-pending civil litigation in which the police witness was accused of false arrest and false imprisonment, and if so, whether the failure to disclose such information was prejudicial so as to warrant a new trial.

April 2023

SJC-13416
Anthony Gattineri vs. Wynn MA, LLC & another

Where the defendant allegedly agreed to pay the plaintiff, as part owner of an LLC that was selling property for the construction of the Encore Boston Harbor casino, to sign a certification required by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission that only the plaintiff and the two co-owners of the LLC would receive the proceeds of the sale, whether that agreement is unenforceable on the ground that it violates G. L. c. 23K, § 21.

If the agreement does not violate G. L. c. 23K, § 21, whether it is unenforceable for reasons of public policy of ensuring public confidence in the integrity of the gaming licensing process and in the strict oversight of all gaming establishments through a rigorous regulatory scheme.

SJC-13405
Columbia Plaza Associates vs. Northeastern

Whether to revisit the existing framework for assessing special motions to dismiss filed under the anti-SLAPP statute, G. L. c. 231, § 59H; including, (1) with respect to stage one, whether to retain the modified standard, as set forth in Blanchard v. Steward Carney Hospital, Inc., 477 Mass. 141, 155 (2017) (Blanchard I), for assessing whether a movant has met its burden, see Reichenbach v. Haydock, 92 Mass. App. Ct. 567, 574 (2017); and (2) with respect to stage two, (a) whether to revisit the existing standard of proof, as set forth in Baker v. Parsons, 434 Mass. 543, 553-554 (2001), or consider alternative standards of proof, including, e.g., a prima facie standard, for assessing whether a non-movant has met its burden under the first path; and (b) whether to retain the second path, as set forth in Blanchard I, 477 Mass. at 160-161, by which a non-movant may meet its burden.

SJC-13407
Russell Metcalf & another vs. BSC Group, Inc. & others

If a contract is for the construction of public works, whether the prevailing wage law, G. L. c. 149, § 27, applies to a private employer where the contract does not contain a stipulation for payment of prevailing wages, there has been no request by a public body to establish a prevailing rate for the contracted work, and no prevailing wage rate schedule was issued in connection with the contract; if a contract is awarded pursuant to G. L. c. 7C, § 58, for professional services on public works construction projects, whether the prevailing wage law, G. L. c. 149, § 27, applies to the contract.

SJC-13411
Commonwealth vs. Padilla

Whether G. L. c. 119, § 68, eighth para., which provides that juvenile defendants charged with murder and ordered detained pretrial must be committed “to the custody of the sheriff,” effectively calls for those juvenile defendants to be housed in adult detention facilities; including, (1) whether, or to what extent, county sheriffs have the authority to transfer such juvenile defendants to the custody of the Department of Youth Services until their eighteenth birthday, either under G. L. c. 120, § 15, or another source of authority; and (2) whether, or to what extent, G. L. c. 119, § 66, which prohibits children under eighteen from being "committed by the court to a jail," has any applicability to the pretrial detention of juvenile defendants charged with murder.

Whether G. L. c. 119, § 68, eighth para., is facially unconstitutional; including, (1) whether § 68, eighth para., lacks a rational basis, in violation of substantive due process or equal protection under the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights; and (2) whether § 68, eighth para., imposes a condition of pretrial confinement on juvenile defendants that amounts to punishment, in violation of due process under the Federal Constitution or the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.

SJC-13412
Fairhaven Housing Authority vs. Commonwealth

Whether the Superior Court erred in granting the defendants’ motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint; including, whether the plaintiffs set forth a plausible claim that the Department of Housing and Community Development (department) exceeded its authority under G. L. c. 121B, § 7A, or the statutory scheme more generally, in issuing certain Public Housing Notices (notices) governing the permissible terms of an employment contract between a local housing authority and its executive director, where the department did not promulgate the notices in accordance with the procedures for adopting formal regulations set forth in G. L. c. 30A, and where the plaintiffs allege that the department has enforced such notices in the same manner as formal regulations.

SJC-13410
Brian Carroll vs. Select Board of Norwell

Whether the Land Court erred in concluding that the passage of a town meeting article authorizing the town’s select board to “make available” town land for affordable housing created a “specific purpose” restriction over the land within the meaning of G. L. c. 40, § 15A.

Whether, or to what extent, this court’s opinion in Smith v. Westfield, 478 Mass. 49 (2017), concerning the standard for assessing specific-purpose designations of land under art. 97 of the Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution, has any bearing on the standard for assessing specific-purpose designations of land under G. L. c. 40, § 15A.

SJC-13408
Commonwealth v. Cassandra L. Barlow-Tucker; and

SJC-13409
Commonwealth v. Matthew J. Tucker

Whether the motion judge properly dismissed the indictments brought against the defendant for involuntary manslaughter, G. L. c. 265, § 13, and reckless endangerment of a child, G. L. c. 265, § 13L, on the grounds that (1) the evidence before the grand jury was insufficient to support the indictments, and (2) the integrity of the grand jury proceedings was impaired by the introduction of certain financial information, “blog” posts, and related testimony and documents.

March 2023

SJC-13399
Commonwealth vs. Elvio Marrero

Whether the defendant is entitled to a new trial on a charge of murder in the first degree on the grounds that newly discovered DNA evidence excluded the defendant as the source of blood at the crime scene and excluded the victim as the source of blood on the defendant’s jacket, that the Commonwealth failed to disclose exculpatory evidence in its possession supporting the defendant’s alibi, and that trial counsel deprived him of effective assistance by failing to discover this evidence.

February 2023

SJC-13396
Commonwealth vs. Erika L. Murray

Where reckless endangerment of a child is considered a lesser included offense of wantonly or recklessly permitting substantial bodily injury to a child, whether the definition of wanton or reckless included in the reckless endangerment statute, G. L. c. 265, § 13L, which requires proof of the defendant’s subjective state of mind, applies in determining whether a defendant has wantonly or recklessly permitted substantial bodily injury to a child pursuant to G. L. c.  265, § 13J (b), fourth par., or whether the common-law meaning of wanton or reckless conduct, which requires proof of either the defendant’s subjective or objective state of mind, applies for purposes of G. L. c. 265, § 13J (b), fourth par.  

SJC-13397
Estate of Theresa A. Jablonski       

Whether the trial judge properly concluded that, although the sole bequest in the decedent’s will – a pet trust provision pursuant to G. L. c. 203E, § 408 – failed where the decedent had no living pets at the time of her death, the charitable remainder portion of the trust provision was nonetheless enforceable pursuant to the doctrine of acceleration of remainders; or whether the charitable remainder portion of the trust provision also failed as a result of the absence of any living pets, such that the decedent’s estate passed to her heirs by intestacy.

SJC-13394
Commonwealth vs. William F. McDermott  

Whether a defendant’s unpreserved claim that the prosecution of his case in 1982 was tainted by homophobia – raised for the first time over four decades after the date of his conviction for murder in the first degree – should be reviewed for a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice where this court conducted plenary review of the case on direct appeal pursuant to G. L. c. 278, § 33E, and reduced the defendant's conviction to murder in the second degree, but did not identify the issue of homophobia in its decision. 

Whether, and to what extent, this court should take into account (1) changes in societal norms during the intervening decades since the defendant’s trial, and/or (2) the defendant's post-conviction incriminating statements to the parole board, in determining whether to grant relief on the defendant’s motion for a new trial.

SJC-13393
In the Matter of Patricia Ann Slavin         

Whether the Probate and Family Court erred in dismissing the 2020 petition for formal probate as untimely; including, whether a petition for formal probate and formal appointment as personal representative, filed by an informal personal representative, constitutes an "appointment proceeding[] relating to an estate in which there has been a prior appointment" under G. L. c. 190B, §3-108.

SJC-13395
Commonwealth vs. Joseph W. James        

Whether the Superior Court erred in denying the defendant's renewed motion for return of property pursuant to G. L. c. 276, § 3; including, whether G. L. c. 27, § 3, violates Federal and State constitutional provisions securing the rights to due process and freedom of speech if it is interpreted to allow for the forfeiture of the defendant's property -- including the forfeiture of photographs based on their content -- without the process provided in G. L. c. 27, §§ 4-8.

SJC-13386
Committee for Public Counsel Services & others vs. District Attorney for Hampden County

Whether the July 2020 report by the Department of Justice, together with other evidence of misconduct by the Springfield Police Department, triggered the Commonwealth’s duty to investigate and, if so, what that duty entails.

When a police department has been alleged by an investigating agency to have engaged in a pattern or practice of misconduct, what evidentiary disclosures a State prosecutor must make in order to satisfy the duty to “learn of and disclose to a defendant any exculpatory evidence that is ‘held by agents of the prosecution team’” in matters involving that police department. See Matter of a Grand Jury Investigation, 485 Mass. 641 (2020); Commonwealth v. Cotto, 471 Mass. 97, 112 (2015).

What obligations the prosecution has when a police department declines to turn over exculpatory evidence concerning police officers who are members of prosecution teams.

Whether each of the petitioners has standing to bring this case and invoke the court’s superintendence power.

SJC-13360
In the Matter of Kris Foster & others

To what extent a supervising attorney may rely on the representations of a subordinate lawyer for purposes of Mass. R. Prof. C. 1.3 and 5.1 (b); the circumstances in which that reliance, even if not permitted by the rules, may serve as mitigation; and the extent to which a subordinate lawyer’s reliance on a supervising lawyer's directions may serve as a defense under Mass. R. Prof. C. 5.2 (b) or as mitigation.

January 2023

SJC-13381     
Robinhood Financial, LLC vs. William F. Galvin & others

Whether the Secretary of the Commonwealth had the authority to promulgate 950 Code Mass. Regs. 12.207, the "Fiduciary Duty Rule," under the Massachusetts Uniform Securities Act; whether the rule conflicts with and is preempted by Federal law or regulations promulgated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

SJC-13382     
Matthew Sutton & another vs. Jordan's Furniture, Inc.

Whether the defendant employer's compensation plan for its sales consultants satisfies the requirements of Sullivan v. Sleepy's LLC, 482 Mass. 227 (2019), related to additional overtime or Sunday pay for retail salespeople who are paid entirely in commission or draws; whether Sleepy's should be applied retroactively.

SJC-13378     
Maria Blanca Elena Garcia & another vs. Shanitqua Steele & others

Whether 49 U.S.C. § 30106, the Graves Amendment, which provides that, in certain circumstances, the owner of a motor vehicle that rents or leases the vehicle to a person shall not be liable on the basis of ownership "for harm to persons or property that results or arises out of the . . . operation . . . of the vehicle," applies to a motor vehicle dealership that loans a courtesy vehicles to a customers while the dealership services the customer's own vehicle; whether loaning a customer a "courtesy vehicle" amounts to engagement "in the trade or business of renting or leasing motor vehicles" for purposes of the Graves Amendment.  

SJC-13384   
Commonwealth vs. Bradley T. Zucchino    

Whether the Commonwealth is required --- under G. L. c. 90, § 24 (1) (f) (1); § 24 (1) (e); or otherwise -- to seek a defendant's consent in order to admit his blood testing results in the prosecution of a G. L. c. 90, § 24L, offense.

SJC-13383     
Commonwealth vs. Daniel M. Brum         

Whether the asserted evidentiary errors require reversal, including whether the grand jury testimony of the victim's ex-girlfriend identifying the defendant in a surveillance video and testifying that the victim stated "DB stabbed me" were properly admitted under the principles established in Commonwealth v. Cong Duc Le, 444 Mass. 431 (2005), Commonwealth v. Daye, 393 Mass. 55 (1984), and other relevant authority.  

SJC-13379    
Commonwealth vs. Michael J. McNeil:

Where a defendant is charged with third offense shoplifting, in violation of G. L.c. 266, § 30A, whether a "guilty-filed" disposition on a prior shoplifting charge constitutes a conviction that may be used as a predicate offense.

SJC-13380     
Norvella Hill-Junious & another vs. UTP Realty LLC & others

Whether a commercial landlord's duty to prevent reasonably foreseeable criminal acts encompasses a duty to learn of criminal acts that occurred prior to the landlord's purchase of the property.

December 2022

SJC-13364
Matthew Dunn vs. Phoenix Communications, Inc.

Where the Supreme Judicial Court's "Order Regarding Court Operations Under the Exigent Circumstances Created by the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Pandemic, No. OE-144," provided that it applied to "all civil statutes of limitations," whether the order tolled the statutory period set forth in G. L. c. 151B, § 5, governing the filing of complaints with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.   

SJC- 13365
Hume Lake Christian Camps, Inc. vs. Planning Board of the Town of Monterey

In a case arising out of a religious organization’s attempt to add a recreational vehicle park to property that it operates as a campground, whether: (1) the organization is a “religious sect or denomination” as contemplated by the Dover Amendment, G. L. c. 40A, § 3; and whether (2) the addition is a “use . . . for religious purposes” as contemplated by the Dover Amendment, G. L. c. 40A, § 3, such that it is exempt from the municipal zoning bylaws which would otherwise prohibit the addition.

SJC-13366
Chad Marsh vs. Massachusetts Coastal Railroad LLC & another

Whether the plaintiff's claims under the Prevailing Wage Act, G. L. c. 149, §§ 27 and 27F, are preempted by Federal law, including: (1) whether the Prevailing Wage Act is expressly or implicitly preempted by the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act, under 49 U.S.C. § 10501, and (2) whether Congress has preempted the field as to State economic regulation of railroads.

If not, whether the plaintiff's complaint plausibly alleges violations of the Prevailing Wage Act, including: (1) whether a railroad project may be considered a public work within the meaning of G. L. c. 149, § 27, and (2) whether facts relating to the bidding process or wage rate schedules of a project must be alleged in the complaint in order to state a plausible claim for relief.

SJC-13361
Robert Herrmann & others vs. Attorney General & another

Whether the complaint should be dismissed as moot, where the plaintiffs did not collect signatures in support of Initiative Petition 22-01 by December 5, 2022; whether article 48 required the plaintiffs to collect and submit signatures by December 5, 2022, or whether, as the plaintiffs argue, article 48 requires the collection of signatures to begin in September 2023 for submission in December 2023.

If the matter is not moot, whether the Attorney General properly declined to certify Initiative Petition 22-01, titled “Initiative Petition for a Law Relative to Limiting Political Contributions to Independent Expenditure PACs,” on the ground that the proposed law would violate free speech rights.

November 2022

SJC-13357
Commonwealth vs. Jeffrey A. Souza

Where a defendant in a homicide case raises a claim of self-defense and introduces evidence, pursuant to Commonwealth v. Adjutant, 443 Mass. 649 (2005), and Commonwealth v. Chambers, 465 Mass. 520 (2013), that the victim was the first aggressor or the first to use deadly force, whether the jury may consider that evidence generally, for purposes of deciding whether the defendant acted in proper self-defense, or whether the jury are limited to considering the evidence only for purposes of determining whether the victim was the first aggressor or the first to use deadly force; and whether, if the jury may consider the evidence more generally, the model jury instruction on self-defense in a homicide case erroneously precludes the jury from so doing.

SJC-13353
Commonwealth vs. Joseph B. Sullivan & another

Where an indictment charges a defendant with a single count of misleading investigators on one or more specified dates, in violation of G. L. c. 268, § 13B, whether the indictment is defective pursuant to Commonwealth v. Barbosa, 421 Mass. 547 (1995), because it creates a risk that the defendant could be convicted of a felony for which he was not indicted or whether the crime of misleading investigators may be charged in a single-count indictment that alleges multiple acts as part of a single pattern or course of criminal conduct.  

SJC-13354
Amy Doucet & another vs. FCA US, LLC & another

Whether there is personal jurisdiction in Massachusetts over the successor in interest to an out-of-State car manufacturer with respect to the plaintiffs' product liability claims, where the allegedly defective vehicle was initially leased and sold at a Massachusetts dealership, but where the alleged injury occurred in New Hampshire, involving a New Hampshire resident, including: (1) whether personal jurisdiction exists under subsection (a) of the State’s long-arm statute, G. L. c. 223A, § 3, and (2) whether personal jurisdiction exists under the due process clause of the United States Constitution.

Whether the plaintiffs are entitled to jurisdictional discovery to the extent that they have failed to establish specific personal jurisdiction.

SJC-13356
Commonwealth vs. Anthony J. Dew          

Whether the motion judge erred in denying the defendant's motion for a new trial based on information that the defendant's court-appointed attorney expressed bigoted and racist views in his posts to social media, including disparaging posts about Black people and Muslims, where the defendant identifies as a Black Muslim; including, whether, under these circumstances, the defendant was required to demonstrate that his counsel's bigoted or racist views resulted in actual prejudice to the defendant, or whether, as the defendant contends, prejudice should be presumed.

SJC-13355
Commonwealth vs. Melissa Pfeiffer          

Whether the motion judge relied on improper considerations in reducing the verdict in this case from felony-murder in the second degree to involuntary manslaughter pursuant to Mass. R. Crim. P. 25 (b) (2), following this court's affirmance of the verdict on direct appeal; including, whether the motion judge properly considered developments in the common law of felony-murder that this court has determined do not apply retroactively.  See Commonwealth v. Brown, 477 Mass. 805 (2017).

October 2022

SJC-13345
Commonwealth vs. Chayanne F. Velazquez         

Whether, pursuant to G. L. c. 276, § 58B, the defendant was “a person detained under this subsection” during the period between February 2, 2022, and February 8, 2022; including, whether the presumptive maximum period of detention under § 58B is to be calculated from the date the defendant was first detained under the petition, pending any continuance, or rather, from the date the petition was allowed.

SJC-13346
Mary Fuller & another vs. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. & others           

Whether the Superior Court erred in granting the defendants’ motion for partial judgment on the pleadings, thereby dismissing the plaintiff’s claims under the wrongful death statute, as well as the plaintiff’s claims for loss of consortium, where the complaint was filed within three years of the decedent’s death, see G. L. c. 229, § 2, but where the decedent would not have been in a position to sue for damages arising from the alleged injury at the time of death because the statute of limitations on the underlying claims for breach of warranty, civil conspiracy, and negligence had lapsed.  See GGNSC Admin. Servs., LLC v. Schrader, 484 Mass. 181, 185 (2020).  (Note that this case will be argued with SJC-13282, Michael Cuddy & another v. Philip Morris Inc.& others).

SJC-13347
Boston Police Superior Officers Federation & others vs. Michelle Wu & another

Whether the mayor and city of Boston were obligated to bargain with the plaintiff unions as to the decision to require city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 and as to the impacts of that decision; whether the unions’ motion for a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of the vaccination mandate was properly allowed.

SJC-13341
Commonwealth vs. Jonathan Gandia

Whether the judge improperly ordered the Commonwealth to disclose the identity of a confidential informant and other information concerning the informant.  (Note that this case will be argued with SJC-13323 Commonwealth v Shamia Whittfield).

SJC-13323
Commonwealth vs. Shamia Whitfield

Whether the judge improperly ordered the Commonwealth to disclose information concerning a confidential informant’s complete history of providing information to law enforcement, which the Commonwealth contends would risk revealing the informant’s identity, where the informant provided a tip that was used in support of an application for a search warrant, but was not otherwise involved in the search or in the alleged offense.  (Note that this case will be argued with SJC-13341 Commonwealth v Jonathan Gandia).

September 2022

SJC-13331
City of Chelsea vs. New England Police Benevolent Assoc., Inc., Local 192

Where a union disclaims representation of a group of members, whether the union that subsequently represents that group may demand arbitration pursuant to the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the predecessor union in connection with an incident that occurred after the predecessor union disclaimed representation; whether disclaiming representation effectively terminates a collective bargaining agreement.

SJC-13335
Commonwealth vs. David Clinton & another

Whether the Superior Court erred in dismissing the indictments against the defendants for five counts each of elder neglect, in violation of G. L. c. 265, § 13K (d ½), premised on a decision made on March 27, 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to merge two dementia housing units in the Soldier's Home in Holyoke, including:  (1) whether the defendants were “caretakers” under G. L. c. 265, § 13K (a), with respect to residents at the Soldiers’ Home; (2) whether the evidence presented to the grand jury established probable cause that the defendants created a "substantial likelihood of harm" under G. L. c. 265, §§ 13K (a) (defining "neglect") & 13K (d ½); and (3) if G. L. c. 265, § 13K, is applied to the defendants, whether the statute is void for vagueness.

SJC-13334
Commonwealth vs. J.F. 

Whether the motion judge erred in denying the defendant's request to seal criminal records, including, whether, following this court's First Amendment analysis in Commonwealth v. Pon, 469 Mass. 296, 308-313 & n.24 (2014), the records related to charges as to which the defendant was found not guilty were properly subject to mandatory sealing, in accordance with the plain language of G. L. c. 276, § 100C, first par., absent a written request by the defendant to the Commissioner of Probation not to seal the records.

SJC-13336
Impounded

Whether the motion judge erred in granting a motion to compel the keeper of records of a Massachusetts counseling center to produce rape counseling records in a Rhode Island criminal case pursuant to the Massachusetts Uniform Act to Secure Attendance of Witnesses, G. L. c. 233, § 13A, where the requested records are subject to an absolute privilege in Massachusetts, see G. L. c. 233, § 20J, and it is asserted that Rhode Island law offers no comparable protection for the records.

SJC-13333
Commonwealth vs. Kieson S. Cuffee

Whether the motion judge erred in denying the defendant's request for discovery of police reports and field interview reports that the defendant asserted were relevant to a claim that the warrantless stop of the defendant was improperly motivated by race, including, whether the legal framework set forth by this court in Commonwealth v. Long, 485 Mass. 711 (2020), applies to pedestrian stops. (Note that this case will be argued with SJC-13329, Commonwealth vs. Michael Van Rader, Jr.)

Commonwealth vs. Michael Van Rader, Jr.

Whether the motion judge erred in denying the defendant's motion to suppress the fruits of a pedestrian stop of the defendant and a companion, including: (1) whether the stop was supported by reasonable suspicion; (2) whether the equal protection framework set forth by this court in Commonwealth v. Long, 485 Mass. 711 (2020), applies to pedestrian stops; and (3) if so, whether the defendant is entitled to relief under the Long framework. . (Note that this case will be argued with SJC-13333, Kieson S. Cuffee)

SJC-13330
Frederick Douglas Greene & others vs.  Philip Morris USA Inc. & another

1. Whether G. L. c. 231, § 6B, and G. L. c. 235, § 8, which set the rates for pre- and post-judgment interest at twelve percent per annum, are so excessive as to violate principles of due process.

2. Whether a new trial is required because the trial judge did not instruct the jury on "but-for" causation with respect to the plaintiffs' conspiracy claims.  See Doull v. Foster, 487 Mass. 1 (2021).

Contact   for Amicus Announcements from September 2022 to August 2023

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