Posts tagged "department"

Myrick v. Superior Court Department (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-066-18)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-12190   KYL V. MYRICK  vs.  SUPERIOR COURT DEPARTMENT.[1]     April 18, 2018.     Mandamus.  Practice, Civil, Action in nature of mandamus.  Supreme Judicial Court, Superintendence of inferior courts.     Kyl V. Myrick appeals from a judgment of a single justice of this court denying his petition for relief in the nature of mandamus.  Myrick’s petition sought the reversal of a Superior Court judgment dismissing a civil complaint that he had filed in that court.  That complaint concerned the denial of his applications for criminal complaints in the Boston Municipal Court Department.  In his petition to the single justice, Myrick also challenged the Superior Court judge’s declining to recuse himself from the matter.  The single justice correctly denied both the petition and Myrick’s subsequent request for reconsideration.   “It would be hard to find any principle more fully established in our practice than the principle that neither mandamus nor certiorari is to be used as a substitute for ordinary appellate procedure or used at any time when there is another adequate remedy.”  Rines v. Justices of the Superior Court, 330 Mass. 368, 371 (1953).  See, e.g., Ardon v. Committee for Pub. Counsel Servs., 464 Mass. 1001 (2012).  There was, as the single justice recognized, a plainly adequate alternative remedy for Myrick to pursue after his complaint in the Superior Court was dismissed, namely, an appeal to the Appeals Court from the judgment of the Superior Court dismissing the complaint.  See Mass. R. A. P. 4 (a), as amended, 464 Mass. 1601 (2013).  As for Myrick’s claim that the Superior Court judge should have recused himself, that claim also could have been raised on appeal to the Appeals Court.  See Bloise v. Bloise, 437 Mass. 1010, 1010 (2002), citing Doten v. Plymouth Div. of the Probate & Family Court Dep’t, 395 Mass. 1001, 1001 (1985).  See also Ewing v. Commonwealth, 451 Mass. 1005, 1006 (2008).   Judgment affirmed.     Kyl V. Myrick, pro se. Eric A. Haskell, Assistant Attorney General, for the defendant.        [1] The real party in interest, the defendant named in the complaint filed in the Superior Court Department, was not made a party to these proceedings.   Full-text Opinions

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - April 18, 2018 at 4:16 pm

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St. Laurent, et al. v. Middleborough Gas & Electric Department (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-039-18)

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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   17-P-835                                        Appeals Court   ALLISON ST. LAURENT & another[1]  vs.  MIDDLEBOROUGH GAS & ELECTRIC DEPARTMENT.     No. 17-P-835.     April 4, 2018.     Municipal Corporations, Municipal electric plant, Governmental immunity.  Middleborough.  Massachusetts Tort Claims Act.  Statute, Construction.     Middleborough Gas & Electric Department (MGED) appeals from a Superior Court order denying its motion to dismiss for lack of presentment.  The motion judge denied the motion on the ground that MGED is not a “public employer” subject to the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, and thus the presentment requirement of G. L. c. 258, § 4, did not apply.  We disagree and remand so that the Superior Court can address whether the presentment requirement was satisfied on the facts here.   Background.[2]  The complaint alleges that the plaintiffs were injured in October, 2013, when a ladder they were near came into contact with an “arc[ing]” electrical current.  They claim that the current came from an “improperly grounded” line maintained by MGED, and that MGED was negligent.  Between November, 2013, and July, 2015, and prior to filing suit, the plaintiffs’ attorney communicated with representatives of MGED multiple times, both orally and in writing.  Eventually efforts at presuit resolution failed, and the plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on April 19, 2016.   MGED filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiffs had failed to make presentment as required by the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, G. L. c. 258, § 4.  The plaintiffs responded (1) that no presentment was required because MGED is not a “public employer” as defined in G. L. c. 258, § 1, as amended by St. 1993, c. 110, § 227, and thus the Tort Claims Act does not apply and (2) that in any event the plaintiffs had satisfied the presentment requirement through correspondence with representatives of MGED.  The motion judge denied MGED’s motion on the ground that MGED was not a public employer, but rather was a “commercial business.”   Discussion.  The question before us turns on the definition of “public employer,” found at c. 258, § 1, which provides that “public employer” includes “any . . . town . . . and any department . . . thereof . . . including a municipal gas or electric plant.”  In construing a statute we begin with its plain language, and we think the language here admits of only one interpretation.  See Commonwealth v. Stewart-Johnson, 78 Mass. App. Ct. 592, 600 (2011) (“A statute is to be interpreted according […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - April 4, 2018 at 3:57 pm

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Cournoyer v. Department of State Police, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-037-18)

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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   17-P-579                                        Appeals Court   ARTHUR COURNOYER  vs.  DEPARTMENT OF STATE POLICE & another.[1]     No. 17-P-579.   Middlesex.     January 8, 2018. – April 2, 2018.   Present:  Blake, Neyman, & Ditkoff, JJ.     State Police.  Retirement.  Police, Retirement, Training program, Authority of police chief.  Public Employment, Police, Retirement, Reinstatement of personnel.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on March 14, 2016.   A motion to dismiss was heard by Bruce R. Henry, J.     Scott W. Lang (Jennifer Davis also present) for the plaintiff. Samuel M. Furgang, Assistant Attorney General, for the defendants.     DITKOFF, J.  The plaintiff, Arthur Cournoyer, appeals from a Superior Court judgment dismissing his claims for declaratory judgment and specific performance against the defendants.  The plaintiff argues that the Department of State Police (department) is required by G. L. c. 22C, § 24A, to develop individualized training programs for former State police troopers seeking reinstatement, rather than require them to complete recruit training at the State police academy (academy).  Concluding that the statute is unambiguous and that the department may require former troopers separated for more than three years to complete recruit training, we affirm, ordering that the judgment be modified to declare the rights of the parties. Standard of review.  We review a ruling on a motion to dismiss de novo, Rodriguez v. Massachusetts Bay Transp. Authy., 92 Mass. App. Ct. 26, 28 (2017), taking the complaint’s allegations as true, as well all reasonable inferences drawn in the plaintiff’s favor, Saliba v. Worcester, 92 Mass. App. Ct. 408, 412 (2017).  To survive a motion to dismiss, the plaintiff must present factual allegations that rise above the level of speculation, Iannacchino v. Ford Motor Co., 451 Mass. 623, 636 (2008), and plausibly suggest an entitlement to relief, Flagg v. AliMed, Inc., 466 Mass. 23, 26 (2013). Background.  The plaintiff was a State police trooper from 1992 until 2000.[2]  While so employed, the plaintiff received positive performance evaluations, and he completed all required in-service training in addition to numerous programs, certifications, and service in specialized areas of law enforcement.  In 1998, however, the plaintiff suffered a severe injury while on duty, requiring medical leave and ultimately causing his involuntary retirement in 2000.  Following several operations and physical rehabilitation, the plaintiff was able to obtain employment, working for the Worcester County sheriff’s department […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - April 2, 2018 at 5:26 pm

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Miranda v. A Justice of the Superior Court Department of the Trial Court (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-047-18)

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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-12308   CHRISTIAN MIRANDA  vs.  A JUSTICE OF THE SUPERIOR COURT DEPARTMENT OF THE TRIAL COURT.       March 27, 2018.     Supreme Judicial Court, Superintendence of inferior courts.  Practice, Civil, Action in nature of certiorari.  Practice, Criminal, Postconviction relief, Discovery.     Christian Miranda appeals from a judgment of the county court denying his petition for relief in the nature of certiorari pursuant to G. L. c. 249, § 4.  Miranda, who has been convicted in the Superior Court of certain drug-related offenses, filed a motion to intervene in a separate criminal case also pending in the Superior Court at that time, apparently seeking to participate in postconviction discovery that was proceeding in that case.  After a hearing, the motion was denied.  Miranda’s petition sought relief from that denial.  As there is no basis in the Rules of Criminal Procedure or other law for a defendant to intervene in another defendant’s unrelated criminal case, Miranda cannot show that relief in the nature of certiorari is necessary “to correct [a] substantial error of law apparent on the record.”  State Bd. of Retirement v. Woodward, 446 Mass. 698, 703 (2006).  See Republican Co. v. Appeals Court, 442 Mass. 218, 227 n.14 (2004) (intervention is “a concept foreign to criminal procedure”).  Moreover, Mass. R. Crim. P. 30, as appearing in 435 Mass. 1501 (2001), provides the mechanism for Miranda to seek postconviction discovery in his own case.  The single justice neither erred nor abused his discretion by denying relief.   Judgment affirmed.     Greg T. Schubert for the plaintiff. Thomas E. Bocian, Assistant Attorney General, for the defendant. Full-text Opinions

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - March 27, 2018 at 2:45 pm

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Jones, et al. v. Massachusetts Department of Children & Families (Lawyers Weekly No. 09-001-18)

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS   SUFFOLK, ss                                                                                                                                    SUPERIOR COURT 1784CV00586                                                 THERESE JONES and MAXWELL JONES                          BY HIS MOTHER AND NEXT FRIEND, THERESE JONES                                                                                v.                                              MASSACHUSETTS DEPARTMENT OF                                                        CHILDREN & FAMILIES                                           MEMORANDUM OF DECISION AND ORDER                                         ON DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO DISMISS       This case arises out of the decision of defendant Massachusetts Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) to take emergency custody of minor plaintiff Maxwell Jones (“Maxwell”).  This decision followed a statutorily mandated investigation in which DCF learned that plaintiff Therese Jones (“Ms. Jones”) had left her three-year old son sleeping alone in a Marriott hotel room while she drank with friends at the hotel bar.  Plaintiffs’ Complaint concedes that Ms. Jones left the infant Maxwell alone in her hotel room when she “ran into a few work friends and had a few drinks,” but insists that she “checked in on her son every ten to fifteen minutes.”   Plaintiffs have brought negligence claims against DCF, asserted under the Massachusetts Tort Claims Act, G.L. c. 258 (the “MTCA”).  Plaintiffs contend that Ms. Jones “ha[d] never been arrested, had no criminal record, and had no previous contact or investigation with DCF,” facts that DCF purportedly “failed to investigate.”  In these circumstances, plaintiffs charge, the decision to take Maxwell into emergency custody and remove him from the care of his mother was “wrongful.” DCF has now moved to dismiss the Complaint, both for failure to state a claim pursuant to Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6) and for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Mass. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1).  DCF maintains that the Complaint sets forth no facts plausibly suggesting negligence on the part of DCF.  DCF alternatively argues that even otherwise viable negligence claims of the type asserted by the plaintiffs in this case must be dismissed, because they fall within the MTCA’s “discretionary function” exemption, G.L. c. 258, _ 10(b). DISCUSSION At the outset, the Court expresses doubt that the plaintiffs have stated viable claims for negligence, as the facts pleaded in the Complaint do no more than attach conclusory labels – viz.,  a “failure to investigate” and a “wrongful” decision to assume custody of the minor child – to the conduct of the defendant.  Beyond such labels, the Complaint sets forth no facts permitting a plausible inference that DCF’s investigative actions and decisions were improper in any respect.  Plaintiffs stress that Ms. Jones “checked in on her son every ten to fifteen minutes,” but do not dispute that Ms. Jones left the child unattended in a strange hotel room for substantial periods of time while she consumed alcohol in a bar.  DCF […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - January 24, 2018 at 12:05 am

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Martin v. Superior Court Department of the Trial Court (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-137-17)

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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-12288     JAMES MARTIN  vs.  SUPERIOR COURT DEPARTMENT OF THE TRIAL COURT.     August 18, 2017.     Supreme Judicial Court, Superintendence of inferior courts.  Attorney at Law, Disqualification.  District Attorney.     The petitioner, James Martin, appeals from a judgment of a single justice of this court denying his petition pursuant to G. L. c. 211, § 3.  We affirm.   Martin, an attorney with a practice in the Springfield area, has been indicted by a Hampden County grand jury on charges of rape, in violation of G. L. c. 265, § 22 (b), and indecent assault and battery, in violation of G. L. c. 265, § 13H.  He filed a motion to disqualify the Hampden County district attorney’s office from prosecuting the case on the basis that it would constitute a conflict of interest because he has worked closely with that office in resolving cases for a number of years.  After a judge in the Superior Court denied the motion, Martin filed his G. L. c. 211, § 3, petition in the county court.  A single justice denied the petition without a hearing.   The case is now before us pursuant to S.J.C. Rule 2:21, as amended, 434 Mass. 1301 (2001), which requires a showing that “review of the trial court decision cannot adequately be obtained on appeal from any final adverse judgment in the trial court or by other available means.”  S.J.C. Rule 2:21 (2).  Martin has not made, and cannot make, such a showing.  Although Martin argues that allowing the Hampden County district attorney’s office to prosecute the case will violate his constitutional rights to a fair and impartial trial, and that it will be “too late” if the disqualification issue is not addressed prior to his trial, the ruling on the disqualification issue is the very type of ruling that is routinely reviewed on appeal from a conviction.  See Luke v. Commonwealth, 460 Mass. 1002, 1002-1003 (2011), citing Commonwealth v. Colon, 408 Mass. 419, 429-432 (1990).  There is no reason why that is not also so here.  The single justice did not err or abuse his discretion in denying relief under G. L. c. 211, § 3.   Judgment affirmed.     The case was submitted on the papers filed, accompanied by a memorandum of law. Alan J. Black for the petitioner. Full-text Opinions

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - August 18, 2017 at 8:06 pm

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Essex Regional Retirement Board v. Justices of the Salem Division of the District Court Department of the Trial Court, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-086-17)

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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   16-P-1158                                       Appeals Court   ESSEX REGIONAL RETIREMENT BOARD  vs.  JUSTICES OF THE SALEM DIVISION OF THE DISTRICT COURT DEPARTMENT OF THE TRIAL COURT[1] & another.[2]     No. 16-P-1158.   Essex.     March 8, 2017. – July 12, 2017.   Present:  Grainger, Blake, & Neyman, JJ.[3]     Public Employment, Retirement, Forfeiture of pension.  Police, Retirement.  Pension.  Constitutional Law, Public employment, Excessive fines clause.  County, Retirement board.  Practice, Civil, Action in nature of certiorari.  District Court, Appeal to Superior Court.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on July 14, 2015.   The case was heard by James F. Lang, J., on motions for judgment on the pleadings.     Michael Sacco for the plaintiff. Thomas C. Fallon for John Swallow.     GRAINGER, J.  The plaintiff, Essex Regional Retirement Board (board), appeals from a judgment allowing a motion for judgment on the pleadings in favor of defendant John Swallow.  The board determined that Swallow’s convictions of various criminal offenses committed in October, 2012, while on administrative leave, render him ineligible to receive a retirement allowance pursuant to G. L. c. 32, § 15(4).  We agree, and conclude that Swallow’s convictions fall within the purview of § 15(4).  We remand the case for consideration of the constitutionality of the assessed penalty under the Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Background.  We summarize the procedural history and the underlying relevant facts which are undisputed.  In June, 2012, Swallow was placed on administrative leave from his duties as a sergeant in the Manchester police department.  At that time he was also suspended from a second job he held as a paramedic with Northeast Regional Ambulance Service.  Although Swallow left his badge and his service handgun at the police station, his license to carry a firearm was not suspended at that point.  After being placed on administrative leave, Swallow experienced significant depression and began drinking heavily on a daily basis. On the afternoon of October 26, 2012, Swallow was at home with his wife, Lauren Noonan.  He was drinking heavily and the couple began arguing, initially because Noonan was concerned that Swallow might drive his car.  The quarrel escalated; Noonan went to her bedroom and sat on the bed with one of her dogs.  Swallow then entered the room with a .45 caliber handgun, and grabbed Noonan by the shirt.  He began screaming […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - July 12, 2017 at 8:47 pm

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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Inc. v. Department of Agricultural Resources, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-105-17)

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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-12207   PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS, INC.  vs.  DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES & another.[1]       Suffolk.     February 6, 2017. – June 14, 2017.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Lenk, Gaziano, Lowy, & Budd, JJ.     Public Records.  Agriculture.  Animal.  Statute, Construction.  Privacy.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on October 14, 2014.   The case was heard by Christopher J. Muse, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     David Milton for the plaintiff. Amy Spector, Assistant Attorney General, for the defendants. Laura Rótolo & Jessie Rossman, for American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, amicus curiae, submitted a brief. Jessica White, for Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.     LENK, J.  This case concerns the scope of two exemptions from the statutory definition of “public records.”  Specifically, it probes whether information, such as names, addresses, telephone numbers, and other information, contained on animal health certificates in the custody of the Department of Agricultural Resources, is subject to disclosure in response to a public records request.  A Superior Court judge determined that such information is protected from disclosure under statutory exemptions G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth (n) and (c), implicating, respectively, public safety and privacy.  For the reasons that follow, we vacate that order and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.[2] Background.  1.  Public records framework.  At all times relevant to this case, two statutes governed access to public records:  G. L. c. 66, § 10, and G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth.[3]  General Laws c. 66, § 10, sets forth the conditions under which government entities, through their records custodians, must provide access to public records.  “The primary purpose of G. L. c. 66, § 10, is to give the public broad access to governmental records.”  Worcester Tel. & Gazette Corp. v. Chief of Police of Worcester, 436 Mass. 378, 382-383 (2002). The term “public records,” in turn, is defined by G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth.  The definition sweeps in a wide array of documents and data made or received by employees, agencies, or other instrumentalities of the Commonwealth.  See Hull Mun. Lighting Plant v. Massachusetts Mun. Wholesale Elec. Co., 414 Mass. 609, 614 (1993), citing G. L. c. 4, § 7, Twenty-sixth (1990 ed.).  This expansive definition of “public records” is statutorily limited by twenty enumerated exemptions in G. L. […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - June 14, 2017 at 8:09 pm

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Guardianship of Yosselin Guadalupe Penate; Department of Revenue v. Lopez, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-102-17)

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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-12138 SJC-12184   GUARDIANSHIP OF YOSSELIN GUADALUPE PENATE.   DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE[1]  vs.  MANUEL MORALES LOPEZ & another.[2]       Suffolk.     January 6, 2017. – June 9, 2017.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Lenk, Hines, Gaziano, Lowy, & Budd, JJ.     Alien.  Probate Court, Jurisdiction.  Jurisdiction, Probate Court.       Petition for appointment of a guardian filed in the Suffolk Division of the Probate and Family Court Department on September 14, 2015.   A motion for special findings of fact was heard by Virginia M. Ward, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.   Complaint to establish paternity filed in the Suffolk Division of the Probate and Family Court Department on November 25, 2014.   A motion for special findings of fact was heard by Virginia M. Ward, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     Valquiria C. Ribeiro for Marvin H. Penate. Jennifer B. Luz (Joshua M. Daniels also present) for E.G. Elizabeth Badger for Kids in Need of Defense & others, amici curiae. The following submitted briefs for amici curiae: Benjamin C. Mizer, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, William C. Peachey, Erez Reuveni, & Joseph A. Darrow, of the District of Columbia, for the United States. Mary K. Ryan & Meghan S. Stubblebine for American Immigration Lawyers Association, New England Chapter, & others.          HINES, J.  In these appeals brought by E.G., an eight year old undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, and Yosselin Guadalupe Penate, a nineteen year old undocumented immigrant from El Salvador, we consider for the second time[3] the statutorily mandated role of the Probate and Family Court (and the Juvenile Court) in a juvenile’s application for special immigrant juvenile status (SIJ) under 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27)(J) (2012).  Congress established the SIJ status classification “to create a pathway to citizenship for immigrant children,” Recinos v. Escobar, 473 Mass. 734, 737 (2016), who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by one or both parents.  The issue presented in these appeals is whether a judge may decline to make special findings based on an assessment of the likely merits of the movant’s application for SIJ status or on the movant’s motivation for seeking SIJ status.  The judge implicitly determined that neither child would be entitled to […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - June 9, 2017 at 2:56 pm

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Deputy Chief Counsel for the Public Defender Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services, et al. v. Acting First Justice of the Lowell Division of the District Court Department (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-084-17)

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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-12121   DEPUTY CHIEF COUNSEL FOR THE PUBLIC DEFENDER DIVISION OF THE COMMITTEE FOR PUBLIC COUNSEL SERVICES & another[1]  vs.  ACTING FIRST JUSTICE OF THE LOWELL DIVISION OF THE DISTRICT COURT DEPARTMENT.       Suffolk.     November 9, 2016. – May 24, 2017.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Hines, Gaziano, Lowy, & Budd, JJ.     Committee for Public Counsel Services.  District Court, Drug court session.       Civil action commenced in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk on February 23, 2016.   The case was reported by Duffly, J.     Paul R. Rudof, Committee for Public Counsel Services (Ryan M. Schiff, Committee for Public Counsel Services, also present) for the plaintiffs. Bethany L. Stevens for the defendant.     HINES, J.  This matter is before us on a reservation and report, by a single justice of this court, of a petition for relief under G. L. c. 211, § 3.  The petition, brought by the Deputy Chief Counsel for the Public Defender Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services and the Deputy Chief Counsel for the Private Counsel Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services (collectively CPCS), sought an order affirming CPCS’s independent authority under G. L. c. 211D to select and supervise attorneys for indigent defendants in the pilot program it had launched in the drug court session of the Lowell Division of the District Court Department (drug court).  The issue arose after the Acting First Justice of the Lowell District Court (Justice), citing the need for a “team” approach to cases in the drug Court, removed CPCS attorneys from drug court cases to which they had been assigned and excluded CPCS attorneys from assignment to any new case in the drug court. The single justice, in her reservation and report, observed that “the matter raises some important legal questions that ought to be decided by the full court, concerning specialty courts in general and adult drug courts in particular, and the respective roles and responsibilities of judges, [CPCS], and individual defense attorneys.”  The issue highlights the tension that may arise between an attorney’s duty to zealously advocate for the rights of the drug court defendant and a drug court model that favors a collaborative and nonadversarial approach to supervision of the drug court defendant.  We recognize that the success of drug court outcomes depends in large part […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - May 24, 2017 at 7:41 pm

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