Posts tagged "Stansfield"

Van Liew v. Stansfield (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-044-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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-11905   ROLAND VAN LIEW  vs.  COLLEEN STANSFIELD.       Middlesex.     January 8, 2016. – March 30, 2016.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.     “Anti-SLAPP” Statute.  Practice, Civil, Motion to dismiss, Appeal, Review of interlocutory action.  District Court, Appellate Division.  Civil Harassment.       Civil action commenced in the Lowell Division of the District Court Department on February 22, 2012.   A special motion to dismiss was heard by Laurence D. Pierce, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     Michael J. Fencer for the defendant. Karen A. Pickett for the plaintiff.     BOTSFORD, J.  In this case we first consider a procedural issue concerning the appropriate forum to hear appeals from the allowance of a special motion to dismiss under G. L. c. 231, § 59H (§ 59H), the so-called “anti-SLAPP”[1] statute, by a judge in the District Court.  This case also requires us to evaluate the relationship between G. L. c. 258E, the statute governing civil harassment prevention orders, and allegedly political speech.  On the procedural issue, we conclude that a party seeking to appeal from a District Court order allowing or denying a special motion to dismiss may file the appeal directly in the Appeals Court, rather than in the Appellate Division of the District Court Department (Appellate Division).  We further conclude that with one possible exception, the speech at issue here — primarily concerning a local municipal election and more generally issues of local public concern — did not qualify as either “fighting words” or “true threats,” see O’Brien v. Borowski, 461 Mass. 415, 425 (2012), and therefore, no civil harassment prevention order should have issued in this case.  In the circumstances presented, Roland Van Liew established that Colleen Stansfield’s petition for a civil harassment prevention order was devoid of factual support, that he had sustained injury, and that Stansfield’s special motion to dismiss Van Liew’s complaint for abuse of process and malicious prosecution should have been denied. Background.[2]  Van Liew and Stansfield are both residents of Chelmsford (town).  Stansfield has been an elected member of the local planning board since April, 2009.  At the time of the events at issue here, in 2012, Van Liew did not hold public office but was an active participant […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - March 30, 2016 at 5:32 pm

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