Justia Juvenile Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Massachusetts Supreme Court
Commonwealth v. Hanson H.
Juvenile was arraigned in the juvenile court on a complaint alleging indecent assault and battery on a person under the age of fourteen. Juvenile pleaded delinquent and was placed on supervised probation for a period of six months. Although Juvenile was not advised during the plea colloquy that GPS monitoring would be required as a condition of probation, the judge entered an order requiring Juvenile to wear a GPS monitoring device during the term of his probation. The judge denied Juvenile's motion for relief from GPS monitoring. The Supreme Court dismissed Juvenile's appeal, holding that a juvenile court retains the discretion, based on the totality of the circumstances, to determine whether GPS monitoring should be imposed as a condition of probation for a juvenile who is adjudicated delinquent after committing a sex offense. View "Commonwealth v. Hanson H." on Justia Law
Commonwealth v. Yardley Y.
In 1995, Defendant was charged with assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of fourteen. At the time, Defendant was a minor and primarily spoke Khmai. During his plea colloquy, Defendant admitted to sufficient facts and was placed on probation. Defendant was committed to the Department of Youth Services after he violated the terms of his probation. In 2009, as an adult, Defendant sought to vacate his pleas, asserting he did not knowingly and voluntarily admit to sufficient facts where no interpreter was present during his plea colloquy and where he was denied effective assistance of counsel. The juvenile court denied Defendant's motion for a new trial, and the appeals court affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Defendant did not provide sufficient evidence to rebut the presumption of regularity of his plea proceedings and did not demonstrate he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. View "Commonwealth v. Yardley Y." on Justia Law
Commonwealth v. Walczak
Defendant, who was a juvenile at the time of the offense, was indicted for murder in the second degree. The superior court judge dismissed the indictment on the ground that the Commonwealth presented insufficient evidence to the grand jury to support an indictment of murder in the second degree. A majority of the Supreme Court affirmed the order dismissing the indictment, holding (1) contrary to the superior court judge's ruling, the evidence before the grand jury supported the indictment for murder in the second degree; but (2) the grand jury should have been, but was not, instructed by the prosecutor on the elements of murder and on the legal significance of the mitigating circumstances raised by the evidence. View "Commonwealth v. Walczak" on Justia Law
Commonwealth v. Nanny
The Commonwealth alleged that, at age 16-17, the defendant committed several crimes including acts of child rape. The defendant was not apprehended until he was 26 years old. The defendant moved to dismiss the youthful offender indictments because he had not been afforded a transfer hearing pursuant to G.L. c. 119, 72A, which states that prior to indictment, the judge must determine whether there is probable cause to believe that the defendant committed the offenses charged and, if so, either order the defendant discharged, if consistent with the protection of the public, or dismiss the case, if the public interest requires that the defendant be tried. The judge allowed the defendant's motion. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed. Section 72A, states that, "[i]f a person commits an offense or violation prior to his seventeenth birthday, and is not apprehended until after his eighteenth birthday, the court, after a hearing, shall determine whether there is probable cause ...." The language, "after a hearing shall," is clear and unambiguous. Section 54, which states, "[t]he court shall proceed on the complaint or the indictment ... in accordance with [sections 55-72], inclusive," does not exempt the Commonwealth from complying with the requirements of section 72A. View "Commonwealth v. Nanny" on Justia Law
Commonwealth v. Zachary Z., a juvenile
The juvenile was charged with delinquency by reason of armed robbery. He was identified as the robber by means of a photograph that the police had obtained from his public high school and claimed to have included in a photographic array shown to the alleged victim. The juvenile moved to suppress the identification. Without evidence of how the student identification cards and photographs were created and how and by whom they were used within and outside of the school, the court was not in a position to review the judge's conclusion that the juvenile had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the photograph and the legal consequences that followed from such a conclusion. Consequently, the court vacated the judge's allowance of the motion to suppress and remanded for further proceedings. View "Commonwealth v. Zachary Z., a juvenile" on Justia Law
Commonwealth v. Washington W.
The Commonwealth appealed from orders of a judge in the Juvenile Court dismissing two youthful offender indictments charging the juvenile with statutory rape. The juvenile has Asperger's Syndrome, as does the complainant. The judge ordered the dismissal after finding that the juvenile had suffered presumptive and actual prejudice from the "Commonwealth's willful and repeated failure to comply with discovery orders." The court concluded that, while the judge erred in dismissing the indictments on the ground that there was insufficient evidence presented to the grand jury, the judge did not abuse her discretion in deciding that dismissal of the youthful offender indictments with prejudice was necessary to cure the prejudice caused to the juvenile's right to a fair trial by the prosecutor's egregious misconduct in wilfully and repeatedly violating the discovery order. View "Commonwealth v. Washington W." on Justia Law
Commonwealth v. Magnus M.
Defendant, a juvenile, was charged in a complaint with being a delinquent child for breaking and entering a motor vehicle in the nighttime, with the intent to commit a felony. At issue was whether G.L.c. 119, section 58, empowered a Juvenile Court judge to continue a delinquency case without a finding and place the juvenile under the supervision of the probation department, notwithstanding a jury's prior verdict of delinquency. Based on the text of the statute, its placement within the broader statutory scheme, and the underlying philosophy of the juvenile justice system, the court concluded that it did. Accordingly, the case was remanded to the county court, where an order shall enter affirming the Juvenile Court judge's order. View "Commonwealth v. Magnus M." on Justia Law
Commonwealth v. Porges
Defendant, who was under fourteen-years-old at the time of the alleged offense, was subsequently indicted when defendant was twenty-three-years-old on six charges of rape of a child with force and two charges of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of fourteen. At issue was whether a person who committed an offense at an age under 14, but who was not apprehended until after he or she had passed the age of 18, could be prosecuted. The court held that the Superior Court had jurisdiction to try the person for that offense under G.L.c. 119, section 72A, after indictment, provided that a judge in the Juvenile Court had determined that there was probable cause to believe that the person committed the offense charged and that the interests of the public required that the person be tried for the offenses instead of being discharged. Accordingly, the court remanded for further proceedings. View "Commonwealth v. Porges" on Justia Law
Adoption of Daisy
Mother appealed the Juvenile Court's determination that her daughter was in need of care and protection and dispensed with the need for the child's parents' consent to adoption, guardianship, custody, or other disposition of the child, which effectively terminated the parents' rights. At issue was whether G.L.c. 233, section 82, which in certain circumstances allowed the admission into evidence in a civil proceeding of "out-of-court statements of a child under the age of ten describing any act of sexual contact performed on or with the child," applied where the child was under the age of ten when she made the statements but ten years of age or older at the time of trial. The court held that the statute applied where the child was under the age of ten when she made the statements, regardless of her age at the time of the trial. Therefore, the court held that the hearsay statements made by the child when she was under the age of ten but admitted in evidence when she was eleven years of age were properly admitted. Accordingly, the court affirmed the Juvenile Court's decree. View "Adoption of Daisy" on Justia Law
Commonwealth v. Wynton W.
A juvenile was charged with possession of a dangerous weapon on the grounds of a school in violation of G.L. c. 269, 10(j) when a knife, a recent birthday gift from his father, dropped out of his pocket during shop class and had been seen by the instructor who reported the juvenile to the dean. At issue was whether a knife that was not a per se dangerous weapon enumerated in G.L. c. 269, 10(b), could constitute a "dangerous weapon" as that term was used in section 10(j), when that knife was not being used in a dangerous manner. The court held that the phrase "dangerous weapon," as used in section 10(j), must be interpreted as incorporating the common law definition of that phrase. The definition included knives that were "designed and constructed to produce death, or great bodily harm" but that were not necessarily stilletos, daggers, dirk knives, or the other objects listed in section 10(j). Such knives were dangerous per se under the common law and thus prohibited from schools under section 10(j). The court also held that, although it appeared unlikely that the two-inch folding knife carried by the juvenile constituted a dangerous weapon within the common law definition, the court remanded to the Juvenile Court for further proceedings to determine the design, purpose, and construction of the knife.