Posts tagged "1020214"

Commonwealth v. Johnson (and a companion case) (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-202-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030;   SJC-11660   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  WILLIAM P. JOHNSON (and a companion case[1]). Essex.     September 3, 2014. – December 23, 2014.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ. Criminal Harassment.  Constitutional Law, Freedom of speech and press.  Practice, Criminal, Required finding, Discovery, Disclosure of evidence, Loss of evidence by prosecution, Promise by prosecutor, Argument by prosecutor, Speedy trial, Venue.  Evidence, Authentication.       Complaints received and sworn to in the Lawrence Division of the District Court Department on October 16, 2008.   Motions to dismiss were heard by Anthony P. Sullivan, J., Mark A. Sullivan, J., and James D. Barretto, J.; and the cases were tried before Michael A. Uhlarik, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     Robert S. Sinsheimer (Lisa A. Parlagreco & Ronald J. Ranta with him) for William P. Johnson. Valerie A. DePalma (Susan H. McNeil with her) for Gail M. Johnson. David F. O’Sullivan, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth. Daniel J. Lyne & Theodore J. Folkman, for Eugene Volokh, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.     CORDY, J.  This case concerns the constitutionality of the criminal harassment statute, G. L. c. 265, § 43A (a), and its application to acts of cyberharassment among others.  Specifically, we consider whether a pattern of harassing conduct that includes both communications made directly to the targets of the harassment and false communications made to third parties through Internet postings solely for the purpose of encouraging those parties also to engage in harassing conduct toward the targets can be constitutionally proscribed by the statute.  We also consider whether, to the extent that this pattern of conduct includes speech, that speech is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or is unprotected speech integral to the commission of the crime. The defendants, William and Gail Johnson, were both convicted of criminal harassment.  William[2] was also convicted of making a false, or “frivolous,” report of child abuse, G. L. c.  119, § 51A (c).  Among other things, the defendants’ conduct included posting information about the victims online along with false statements about items that the victims allegedly either had for sale or were giving away, with the object of encouraging unwitting third parties to repeatedly contact and harass the victims at their home and on their telephone.  The […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - January 6, 2015 at 10:05 am

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