Posts tagged "1005614"

Commonwealth v. Walker (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-056-14)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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‑11445   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  HENRY WALKER.     March 21, 2014.   Sex Offender.  Constitutional Law, Sex offender.  Due Process of Law, Sex offender.  Evidence, Sex offender, Expert opinion.  Practice, Civil, Sex offender, Findings by judge.  Words, “Menace.”       Following a jury-waived trial, a judge in the Superior Court determined that the defendant is a sexually dangerous person and committed him to the Massachusetts Treatment Center pursuant to G. L. c. 123A, § 14 (d).[1]  The defendant’s past sexual offenses include exhibitionism, a noncontact offense, and, in at least two instances, exhibitionism accompanied by a contact offense, e.g., indecent assault and battery.  The judge found that the defendant has a mental abnormality, specifically crediting the testimony of one of the experts who testified at trial that the defendant “will likely engage in future noncontact offenses, but that there is certainly a significant possibility of future contact offenses.”  He also found that the defendant’s mental abnormality “is one that predisposes him to sexual acts to a degree that makes him a menace to the health and safety of other persons.”  The Appeals Court affirmed, see Commonwealth v. Walker, 83 Mass. App. Ct. 901 (2013), and we granted the defendant’s application for further appellate review.     In Commonwealth v. Suave, 460 Mass. 582, 585-586 (2011) (Suave), we considered, for the first time, “whether G. L. c. 123A, properly construed, permits a finding of sexual dangerousness based on an individual’s history of committing noncontact sexual offenses and his likelihood of committing only noncontact offenses in the future.”  We concluded that a finding that a defendant is likely to commit noncontact sexual offenses could support a determination that the defendant is a “menace” only where the Commonwealth has shown that “the defendant’s predicted sexual offenses will instill in his victims a reasonable apprehension of being subjected to a contact sex crime.  A generalized fear or some other unspecified psychological harm such as shock or alarm will not suffice.”  Id. at 588.   Because we had not yet decided the Suave case at the time of the defendant’s trial, the judge did not have the benefit of, and did not make his findings regarding noncontact offenses pursuant to, that decision.  He did not, in other words, make any finding that the defendant is a “menace” because his predicted future noncontact offenses would be likely to instill in […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - March 22, 2014 at 4:09 am

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