Posts tagged "1010215"

Commonwealth v. Dorvil (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-102-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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-11738   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  JEAN G. DORVIL.       Plymouth.     February 5, 2015. – June 25, 2015. Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, & Lenk, JJ.     Assault and Battery.  Parent and Child, Discipline.  Child Abuse.       Complaint received and sworn to in the Brockton Division of the District Court Department on May 16, 2011.   The case was heard by Julie J. Bernard, J.   After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review.     Jacob B. Stone for the defendant. Audrey Anderson, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth. Rebecca Kiley, Committee for Public Counsel Services, for Committee for Public Counsel Services, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.     LENK, J.  We are called upon in this case, where the defendant stands convicted of assault and battery for spanking his minor child, to examine the contours of a parental privilege defense.  On appeal, the defendant contends that the use of force to control and discipline his child in the circumstances was justified, excusing him from liability for conduct that otherwise would constitute a crime.  Although we have on several prior occasions assumed that such a common-law privilege exists, we have neither expressly recognized it nor considered its proper scope.  We do so today, deeply mindful of the dual important interests implicated in the defense:  the welfare of children requiring protection against abuse, on the one hand, and, on the other, the avoidance of unnecessary State interference in parental autonomy as it concerns child rearing.[1] 1.  Background.  a.  Overview.  After a jury-waived trial, the defendant was convicted of assault and battery for spanking his daughter, then almost three years old.  He also was convicted of threatening to commit a crime, based on his conduct while he was held at the police station following his arrest.  He was acquitted of two other charges stemming from the same series of events. In his appeal to the Appeals Court, the defendant argued, among other things, that the evidence was insufficient to sustain a conviction of assault and battery in light of the parental privilege to use force in disciplining a minor child.  The Appeals Court, in an unpublished memorandum and order issued pursuant to its rule 1:28, determined that the defendant’s conduct fell outside of the parental privilege defense and affirmed the […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - June 25, 2015 at 3:56 pm

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