The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that Louis Costa deserves the chance to convince a judge he should have a chance at parole for the 1986 execution-style murder of two men in a North End park because he was only 16 at the time. Read more.
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that Town Meeting in Mendon had the right to bar a proposed strip club from serving liquor out of a fear the combination would mean criminals running riot through the streets of the quiet Milford suburb - but said a town bylaw was too broad and should be struck down.
The ruling actually comes as an opinion to the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, which is considering a lawsuit by a company that sought to open a strip club in the Blackstone Valley town, only to have Town Meeting say, yeah, well, here are some studies that prove drinking and naked women inevitably lead to crime. Read more.
The Supreme Judicial Court today reversed the assault-and-battery conviction of a Brockton man arrested after spanking his three-year-old daughter in view of two police detectives.
The court noted that corporal punishment "as an integral aspect of parental autonomy" remains widely accepted in American society and so in the absence of specific laws on the subject, "we must guard against the imposition of criminal sanctions for the use of parenting techniques still widely regarded as permissible and warranted." Read more.
In a ruling today on a land dispute in Templeton, the Supreme Judicial Court came close to overturning the idea that you can't sue the state without its permission, but pulled back because the justices figured it would be better for the legislature to hash it out. Read more.
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that a person charged with a crime while on probation in three different courts can only face punishment for a probation violation by one of them. Read more.
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that people facing new drug trials because their evidence was handled by convicted state chemist Annie Dookhan cannot be brought up on more severe charges the second time around - and can't get sentences more severe than the ones originally imposed. Read more.
The Supreme Judicial Court today ordered a new trial for James Brescia, convicted for first-degree murder for the 2006 death of a Newton man his wife had been seeing.
The court agreed with Brescia's attorneys that symptoms from a mild stroke he suffered the night after his first day of testimony - the next day, under cross examination, he had problems understanding and answer questions - could have been interpreted by the jury as evasion, since jurors were not told about the stroke, and that that meant Brescia did not get a fair trial. Read more.
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today that two women seeking to formally adopt the son one of them bore with the help of a sperm donor don't have to give him a chance to object to legally adopt the baby.
The ruling at first might seem nonsensical, since the women are married and were married at the time of their son's birth last year, and both are listed as parents on his birth certificate, so why bother with adoption?
But as the court noted ... Read more.
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today state law lets take-out owners prohibit tips and, as long as they prominently alert visitors to that, keep any of the money customers insist on giving anyway.
The ruling comes in the case of employees of Dunkin' Donuts franchisee Constantine Scrivanos, who owns 66 Dunkin' shops in eastern Massachusetts and who bans tipping in about two-thirds of those.
The Supreme Judicial Court today upheld an Everett resident's assault and battery conviction that was based in part on a DNA test that showed the blood on his sweatshirt belonged to the man he stabbed.
Manuel Arzola sought to overturn the conviction on the grounds the DNA test was the equivalent of a police search requiring a warrant, which police in Chelsea didn't get after arresting him.
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today prosecutors cannot use most of the marijuana found in a man's minivan during a traffic stop in Quincy to prosecute him for possession with intent to distribute, because police didn't have the legal right to search the vehicle in the first place.
The ruling also applies to the man's cell phone, on which officers browsed messages they felt showed evidence the man was conducting drug deals.
The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today Dish Network and Direct TV have to continue paying an excise tax on their Massachusetts accounts.
The state's highest court ruled that even though cable providers and Verizon don't have to pay the excise tax, that's not discriminatory under the US Constitution's commerce clause because the satellite companies still come out ahead, because of the way the land-based providers are taxed:
The Supreme Judicial Court today ordered new trials for Michael Cowels and Michael Mims, convicted in 1994 of stabbing a woman to death in Chelsea the year before.
Part of the evidence against the two men was two towels with blood on them, which Suffolk County prosecutors said the pair had used to clean themselves after killing Belinda Miscioscia and dumping her body behind an industrial building.
The Supreme Judicial Court today updated the definition of "reasonable doubt" that Massachusetts judges have been reading to jurors since 1850, when it was first used in the case of a Harvard professor charged with murdering and dismembering a prominent Beacon Hill doctor.
The Supreme Judicial Court today upheld the criminal-harassment convictions of an Andover couple for a series of "pranks" against neighbors that started with bogus Craigslist for-sale ads and culminated in a fake child-abuse complaint to the state and anonymous letters alleging sexual abuse.
For the third time, the Supreme Judicial Court has upheld Pedro Valentin's first-degree murder conviction, which means he will spend the rest of his life in state prison for murdering Timothy Bond, who had stolen cocaine from a guy working for Valentin's brother Simon back in 1991.
Although it was Simon who was convicted of shooting Bond in the head in the South Street housing project that fall, Pedro was convicted of murder in 1994 under the joint-venture theory - he accompanied his brother and a witness said that as Bond lay on the ground, he stomped on the man's head and yelled at him to die.
In a victory for the manufacturer of electric cars, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled today dealers of other types of cars have no grounds to block the company's efforts to sell vehicles directly to consumers.
Massachusetts car dealers had sued Tesla Motors under a state law designed to protect dealers from predatory actions by manufacturers.
But the state's highest court said the law only applies to the manufacturers selling to the dealerships that felt they were injured. Tesla isn't selling cars to specific dealerships - it wants to sell cars from its own showrooms, starting with one in Natick - the court noted.
UPDATE: Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reports lead plaintiff Eve Plumb is the actress who played Jan Brady on the Brady Bunch.
The Supreme Judicial Court said today that current state law protects artists whose art gets tangled up in the bankruptcy of the studios that were trying to sell the works.