If it looks like a duck and it drives like a duck, it needs permission from the Boston police commissioner

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today a company that wants to operate amphibious sightseeing tours in Boston has to first get permission from the Boston police commissioner.

Nautical Tours has been trying to win permission to carry sightseers around the Hub since 2007, when it first asked the state Department of Public Utilities for a license to serve Boston.

The department said the company was unable to prove it had the financing to support its operations, but that it would grant permission - on the condition the company win a permit from the Boston police commissioner. Instead, in 2010, the company asked the Boston City Council for permission and, when that was not forthcoming, sued the state.

But the state's highest court told the company to stop quacking and just apply to the police commissioner. It noted the city's police commissioner has had authority over sightseeing operators since 1913:

Given the nature of sightseeing vehicles, here amphibious motor vehicles, and the public safety concerns associated with their operation on the sometimes narrow, crooked, and congested streets of Boston, the sightseeing licensing requirement is reasonable.

Citizen complaint of the day: Leather-lunged parker in the Leather District

A peeved citizen complains about a situation on South Street this afternoon:

This car doesn't have a resident sticker and is in a resident spot. I approached her bc I have a resident sticker and was waiting for a spot to open up. She basically told me "so what, not my problem, I have an appointment". Please send meter maid and ticket! Didn't make the situation any better having my 2 year old witness this lady yelling at me and I never raised my voice at her.

The city replies that justice is done:

Case Resolved. this vehicle was on Beach Street and was tagged for resident parking.

Court rules Dorchester man may have been so drunk the night he murdered his girlfriend he doesn't deserve a sentence of life without parole

The Supreme Judicial Court today gave Suffolk County prosecutors a choice: They can retry Mario Gonzalez of Dorchester for stabbing his girlfriend to death in 2009 or they can accept reducing his current conviction from first to second-degree murder.

A first-degree murder conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life without parole. A second-degree conviction also carries a life sentence but with the possibility of parole, as early as 15 years after conviction.

At issue is the legal theory under which prosecutors charged Gonzalez with first-degree murder and the judge's instructions to his jury.

Prosecutors did not allege that Gonzalez planned Luz Forty's murder on Feb. 15, 2009. Instead, they said he deserved to be sent away for life because of the "extreme atrocity or cruelty" in the way he killed her during an argument over his drinking - he stabbed her eight times in the chest and shoulders.

The problem, the state's highest court ruled, was that:

The judge did not instruct the jury that they could consider any credible evidence of the defendant's consumption of alcohol in determining whether the defendant committed the killing with extreme atrocity or cruelty, an instruction that in substance is required where there is evidence that the defendant was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the killing. ...

Where the only theory of murder in the first degree on which the jury found the defendant guilty was extreme atrocity or cruelty, the defendant on appeal argues that the absence of such an instruction was error that created a substantial likelihood of a miscarriage of justice.

The absence of such an instruction was error. ...

Where the jury did not find the defendant guilty on the theory of deliberate premeditation, where the defendant was the first to telephone 911 after the stabbing, and where there was no evidence of a history of domestic abuse, we cannot say that "we are substantially confident that, if the error had not been made, the jury verdict would have been the same."

The court concluded:

Within fourteen days of the issuance of this opinion, the Commonwealth shall inform this court whether it will move to have the defendant sentenced on the lesser offense of murder in the second degree or whether it will retry the defendant for murder in the first degree.

Victim in fatal Jamaica Plain crash IDed as West Roxbury man

State Police report the man who died when his 2013 Dodge Ram truck swerved off Morton Street near the rotary and overturned last night was Lawrence Mulhern, 53.

Mulhern was pronounced dead at the scene.

Last night, Boston Police identified the pickup as the one that hit a van shortly before the fatal crash at Morton Street and Blue Hill Avenue.

Man walking on Memorial Drive struck and killed by car

UPDATE: State Police identify the victim as Mark Keiser of Boston.

State Police report a collision around 7 a.m. on the eastbound side of Memorial Drive just past the Mass. Ave. Bridge ended with a 50-year-old Boston man dead.

The reason why the pedestrian was on the roadway is unknown at this time and is part of the investigation.

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