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Clay v. Massachusetts Parole Board (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-123-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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-12032   FREDERICK CLAY  vs.  MASSACHUSETTS PAROLE BOARD.       Suffolk.     April 7, 2016. – August 12, 2016.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.[1]     Parole.  Constitutional Law, Parole, Ex post facto law.  Imprisonment, Parole.  Practice, Criminal, Parole.       Civil action commenced in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk on November 20, 2015.   The case was reported by Botsford, J.     Jeffrey Harris for the petitioner. Jennifer K. Zalnasky, Assistant Attorney General, for the respondent. Barbara Kaban, for Youth Advocacy Division of the Committee for Public Counsel Services & another, amici curiae, submitted a brief.     CORDY, J.  In 1981, the petitioner, Frederick Clay, was convicted of murder in the first degree.  The victim was a Boston taxicab driver.  When the crime was committed in 1979, Clay was a juvenile.  He was sentenced to serve the statutorily mandated term of life in prison without the possibility of parole, see G. L. c. 265, § 2, which conviction and sentence we affirmed on appeal.[2]  See Commonwealth v. Watson, 388 Mass. 536, 548 (1983), S.C., 393 Mass. 297 (1984). More than thirty years later, we determined that G. L. c. 265, § 2, which mandated Clay’s sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole, was invalid as applied to those, like Clay, who were juveniles when they committed murder in the first degree.  See Diatchenko v. District Attorney for the Suffolk Dist., 466 Mass. 655, 667 (2013), S.C., 471 Mass. 12 (2015), adopting Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455, 2469 (2012) (Eighth Amendment to United States Constitution and art. 26 of Massachusetts Declaration of Rights forbid sentencing schemes mandating life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders).[3]  The result was that any juvenile offender who had been convicted of murder in the first degree, including Clay, became eligible for parole within sixty days before the expiration of fifteen years of his or her life sentence.  See Diatchenko, supra at 666, 673; Commonwealth v. Brown, 466 Mass. 676, 689 (2013) (under doctrine of severability, statute read “as if omitting the exception for parole eligibility for murder in the first degree when applying the statute to juveniles”).  See also G. L. c. 127, § 133A. Clay, having already served more than fifteen years of his sentence, became immediately eligible to be considered for parole […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - August 12, 2016 at 3:24 pm

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