Posts tagged "1013715"

Commonwealth v. Lucas (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-137-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-11830   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  MELISSA LUCAS. Suffolk.     May 7, 2015. – August 6, 2015.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.     Constitutional Law, Freedom of speech and press, Elections.  Statute, Validity.       Civil action commenced in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk on February 11, 2015.   The case was reported by Duffly, J.     Peter Charles Horstmann for the defendant. Amy Spector, Assistant Attorney General, for the Commonwealth. The following submitted briefs for amici curiae: Andrew Sellars & Christopher Bavitz for New England First Amendment Coalition & others. H. Reed Witherby, Matthew R. Segal, & Sarah R. Wunsch for American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts. Ben Robbins & Martin J. Newhouse for New England Legal Foundation. Russell C. Reeves, Kathryn M. Harrison, & Austin C. Reeves, pro se. Ilya Shapiro & Gabriel Latner, of the District of Columbia, & David Duncan for Cato Institute.     CORDY, J.  This case concerns the constitutionality of G. L. c. 56, § 42 (§ 42), which criminalizes certain false statements about political candidates or questions submitted to voters.[1]  Melissa Lucas was charged with violating the statute after her political action committee published brochures criticizing a candidate for public office.  For the reasons set forth below, we conclude that § 42, on its face, is inconsistent with the fundamental right of free speech guaranteed by art. 16 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights.  Accordingly, the statute is invalid and the criminal complaint charging Lucas with violating it must be dismissed.[2] 1.  Background.  In October, 2014, Jobs First Independent Expenditure Political Action Committee (PAC) published and distributed brochures urging voters to vote against Brian Mannal, the incumbent candidate for State Representative for the Second Barnstable District.  In the brochures, the PAC made several statements about Mannal, including: “Brian Mannal chose convicted felons over the safety of our families.  Is this the kind of person we want representing us?”;   “Helping Himself:  Lawyer Brian Mannal has earned nearly $ 140,000 of our tax dollars to represent criminals.  Now he wants to use our tax dollars to pay defense lawyers like himself to help convicted sex offenders”; and   “Brian Mannal is putting criminals and his own interest above our families.”   On October 21, 2014, approximately two weeks prior to the general election, Mannal responded by filing an […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - August 6, 2015 at 4:51 pm

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