Articles Posted in Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

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A juvenile, who has been indicted as a youthful offender, is not entitled as of right to interlocutory review of a denial of a motion to dismiss that indictment. The grand jury returned a youthful offender indictment against Juvenile, charging her with rape of a child. Juvenile moved to dismiss the indictment for lack of probable cause. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the juvenile court judge’s order denying the motion to dismiss, holding (1) Juvenile is not entitled to interlocutory review under these circumstances, but, nevertheless, the court exercises its discretion to reach the merits of the petition; and (2) the youthful offender portion of the indictment was not sufficiently supported by probable cause. View "N.M. v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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A juvenile who has been convicted of murder in the first degree, and whose conviction has been affirmed by the Supreme Judicial Court after plenary review, is thereafter subject to the gatekeeper provision of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E. Defendant was convicted in 1995 of murder in the first degree. Defendant was seventeen years old when the killing occurred and was considered an adult for purposes of the criminal proceedings. In 2013, Defendant filed a motion for a new trial. A judge denied the motion but resentenced Defendant to life with the possibility of parole because Defendant was under the age of eighteen at the time of the killing. Thereafter, Defendant filed an application pursuant to the gatekeeper provision of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E seeking leave to appeal the denial of his motion for a new trial. At issue before the Supreme Judicial Court was whether Defendant was subject to the gatekeeper provision since he was no longer sentenced to the most severe sentence recognized in Massachusetts. The court answered that the gatekeeper provision applied to defendants who, like Defendant in this case, have had a direct appeal, have received plenary review, and remain convicted of murder in the first degree. View "Commonwealth v. James" on Justia Law

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Samuel S., a juvenile, was adjudicated a youthful offender and a delinquent juvenile as the result of a single sexual offense. As part of his sentence, Samuel was committed to the Department of Youth Services. The juvenile court judge also ordered Samuel to register as a sex offender and to submit to GPS monitoring, stating that both consequences were “mandatory.” The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judge’s decision, holding (1) the pertinent section of the sex offender registration statute required the judge to make an individualized determination whether Samuel must register as a sex offender because he was not “sentenced to immediate confinement” within the meaning of the statute; and (2) the GPS monitoring statute, as interpreted by the Supreme Judicial Court in Commonwealth v. Hanson H., does not require youthful offenders to submit to GPS monitoring. View "Commonwealth v. Samuel S." on Justia Law

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Alexander Soto was a juvenile when he was indicted for murder in the first degree and related offenses. The superior court dismissed the non-murder indictments, concluding that the nonmurder charges must first be brought in the juvenile court by a complaint for delinquency or a youthful offender indictment prior to joinder with the murder indictments. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the order allowing Soto’s motion to dismiss the non-murder indictments, holding that, when a juvenile is indicted for murder, non-murder offenses that are properly joined with the murder indictment must be brought in the superior court. View "Commonwealth v. Soto" on Justia Law

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Petitioners, Timothy Deal, Siegfried Golston, and Jeffrey Roberio, were juvenile homicide offenders serving mandatory indeterminate life sentences, and who had a constitutional right to a "meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation." At issue in this case was the manner in which juvenile homicide offenders were classified and placed in Department of Correction (department) facilities. Specifically, the issue was whether the department's practice of using "discretionary override codes" to block qualifying juvenile homicide offenders from placement in a minimum security facility unless and until the individual received a positive parole vote violated: (1) G. L. c. 119, section 72B (as amended by St. 2014, c. 189, section 2); or (2) their right to a meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, arts. 12 and 26 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, or both Constitutions. After review, the Supreme Court concluded that the department's current classification practice violated G. L. c. 119, section 72B, because the department's failure to consider a juvenile homicide offender's suitability for minimum security classification on a case-by-case basis amounted to a categorical bar as proscribed by the statute. Furthermore, the Court concluded that the department's practice did not violate petitioners' constitutional right to a meaningful opportunity to obtain release based on demonstrated maturity and rehabilitation because there was no constitutionally protected expectation that a juvenile homicide offender would be released to the community after serving a statutorily prescribed portion of his sentence. View "Deal v. Comm'r of Correction" on Justia Law

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Defendant was sixteen years old at the time he admitted to committing murder. Defendant made his confession after prolonged questioning by the police and by his mother. Defendant filed a motion to suppress his statements to the police, but the motion was denied. After a jury trial, Defendant was convicted of murder in the first degree on the theory of deliberate premeditation and unlicensed possession of a firearm. Defendant filed a motion for a new trial, alleging that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel. Defendant’s claims were denied, and the denial of his motion was consolidated with his direct appeal. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Defendant’s convictions and declined to grant relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 278, 33E, holding (1) the Court declines to expand the rule requiring the corroboration of extrajudicial statements as it applies to juvenile confessions; (2) the trial court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion for a new trial; (3) the trial court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion to suppress on the grounds asserted by Defendant; and (4) the trial court did not err by denying Defendant’s motion for a directed verdict on the firearms charge. View "Commonwealth v. Weaver" on Justia Law

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Defendant was indicted as a youthful offender on a charge of involuntary manslaughter. Defendant moved in the juvenile court to dismiss the youthful offender indictment, asserting that the evidence was insufficient to warrant the return of an indictment for involuntary manslaughter where her conduct did not extend beyond words. The juvenile court denied the motion. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the grand jury were justified in returning an indictment of involuntary manslaughter against Defendant because such a conviction is punishable by imprisonment in state prison and involves the infliction of serious bodily harm. View "Commonwealth v. Carter" on Justia Law

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B.V.G., a young woman with intellectual disabilities, has been in the sole custody of her father for many years. He was named her temporary guardian when B.V.G. reached age 18. Her maternal grandfather sought to intervene in B.V.G.'s father's permanent guardianship proceedings, asserting that his relationship with B.V.G. has been restricted by her father, that B.V.G. has indicated expressly her desire to communicate with him and has sought contact with him via social media, and that such a relationship is in B.V.G.'s best interests. Concluding that the grandfather lacked standing because he was not an "interested person" within the meaning of G.L. 190B, 5-306(c), a judge denied the motion. The Appeals Court affirmed the denial, on different grounds. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reversed, first holding that the grandfather had standing. The statute is intended to provide a means by which an individual interested in the welfare of an incapacitated person can advocate on behalf of that person and the Massachusetts implementation of the Uniform Probate Code encourages a broad right of advocacy in favor of an incapacitated person's protected interest in a limited guardianship. Once a judge has concluded that a proposed intervener is an "interested person," nothing more is required to establish that person's entitlement to intervene. View "Guardianship of B.V.G." on Justia Law

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Two weeks before Defendant’s eighteenth birthday, delinquency complaints were filed alleging two counts of rape of a child under sixteen. Defendant appeared in the juvenile court and was duly arraigned. After Defendant turned eighteen, the Commonwealth sought youthful offender indictments against Defendant on the basis of a subset of the acts that were the subject of the complaints. After the indictments were returned, the Commonwealth entered nolle prosequi on all of the delinquency complaints. Defendant unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the indictments. In Mogelinski I, the Supreme Court reversed, concluding that the juvenile court did not have jurisdiction over the youthful offender indictments under the facts of this case. Thereafter, the Commonwealth brought a new complaint in the juvenile court against Defendant essentially identical to those where nolle prosequi was previously entered in order to seek a transfer hearing. The juvenile court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the juvenile court, in fact, had jurisdiction to proceed on the basis of the newly filed complaint. View "Commonwealth v. Mogelinkski" on Justia Law