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Massachusetts Appellate Court to Decide Constitutionality of Traffic Stop and Frisk 

 

The Fourth Amendment and the state equivalent have many exceptions. Officers are generally permitted to patdown the outer layer of a person’s clothes during a traffic stop if the officer fears that the person may be armed and dangerous. But what if the officer only finds pills, not weapons? The appellate court heard oral arguments on October 1st requiring this issue in Commonwealth v. Wade

 

What happened in the Wade case? 

Does a Zoom Trial Violate A Defendant’s Rights? The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to Decide. 

Criminal defendants in this country have a right to trial in front of a jury of their peers. Additionally, the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article Twelve of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights guarantees a defendant’s right to confront a witness at trial. 

However, it has been nearly two years since the COVID-19 pandemic, and life is just now beginning to return to normal. COVID has thrown a wrench in nearly every facet of life, including criminal trials. The case of Commonwealth v. Curran will decide whether Zoom proceedings interfere with a defendant’s rights. 

Texas’s Unconstitutional Abortion Ban

In 1965, the world was a very different place. Not only was abortion illegal, but the use of contraceptives were illegal in many places as well. Restrictive rules regarding the use of contraceptives were prominent throughout the country. In Connecticut, this rule was enforced against two doctors, Griswold and Buxton, who opened a birth control clinic. In the case of Griswold v. Connecticut, the doctors challenged the constitutionality of the Connecticut statute under the Fourteenth Amendment, and the case made its way up to the Supreme Court.

What is the right to privacy?

Massachusetts Appellate Court Denies Man New Rape Trial 

Many rapes happen while the victim is under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of the two. Victims are often tested for the presence of drugs at a hospital following their assault. However, may a court allow an expert testimony regarding GHB, known as a “date rape drug,” even when the victim tested negative for the drug? The Massachusetts Appellate Court recently decided this question in Commonwealth v. Hoime.  

What happened in the Hoime case? 

Homicide is the most serious offense. In most states, homicide is punished more severely if the victim is a law enforcement officer. But, what if this murder is committed outside an American territory? Federal statute 18 U.S.C § 1114 makes it illegal to kill any government officer engaged in their official duties. For years, federal courts have generally avoided applying statutes extraterritorially, except in cases where Congress clearly indicates that this is their intent. However, some courts have recently begun applying the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of United States v. Bowman to justify applying 18 U.S.C § 1114 outside the country. Bowman held that U.S. courts have jurisdiction to try crimes committed at sea or abroad, even if not specifically conferred by statute if the nature of the crime logically includes them.

There is currently a circuit split regarding this issue, with the Eleventh and Second Circuits holding that 18 U.S.C § 1114 applies extraterritorially, while the D.C. Circuit held that it does not any such application.

18 U.S.C. § 1114 says the following: 

The unfortunate reality is that oftentimes in criminal and civil trials, alike expert witnesses rely on pseudo-science and pseudo-psychology in their testimony. The Massachusetts Appellate Court recently decided the case of Commonwealth v. Delossantos, which dealt with an expert witness’s unreliable testimony about the behavior of drug users, 

What happened in the Delossantos case?

Edward Delossantos was on a side corner near Northeastern University when a police officer saw him. The officer observed that Delossantos appeared to be in pain. When the officer approached Delossantos, Delossantos told the officer “they shot my nuts off.” Delossantos groin area was severely wounded, and Delossantos was transported to the Boston Medical Center for treatment. While in the emergency room, a bag of white rocks fell from Delossantos’s groin area. In the bag was thirteen other smaller bags. The white rockers were later analyzed and came back as cocaine. 

Massachusetts Appellate Court Decides Stop and Frisk Case 

The controversial police method of stop and frisk had been heavily debated since its inception. However, some courts have held stop and frisks to be legal so long as there is a reasonable justification. The Massachusetts Appellate Court looked at this issue in Commonwealth v. Privette

What happened in the Privette case?

Can a person be convicted of homicide despite having no weapon, no intention, and no reason to kill a co-conspirator? The United States Supreme Court may decide this in the case of City of Hayward v. Jessie Lee Jetmore Stoddard-Nunez

On March 2nd, 2017, Jessie Stoddard-Nunez and his younger brother Shawn were at a party at their apartment. Their friend, Pakman, also attended the gathering. While at the party, Shawn and Pakman consumed alcohol. As the men drank, they became intoxicated and violent. Packman physically fought with Stoddard-Nunez, punching and restraining him. Eventually, Pakman and Shawn left the apartment and drove away despite both being intoxicated. 

Office Troche was on patrol at the time with a ride-along passenger. Troche noticed Pakman’s Honda Civic driving erratically, as Pakman ran a stop sign, red light, and was swerving lanes. Troche began to follow Pakman’s vehicle. Pakman then parked the car in a parking lot and Troche blocked him into the parking lot with his vehicle. 

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Decides Body Camera Case 

In the aftermath of the 2014 Michael Brown shooting by a law enforcement offer, police departments all across the country began to require officers to wear body cameras while on duty. Body cameras were meant to protect citizens from police misconduct. But, what if body camera footage is used against you in court? The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decided today Commonwealth v. Yusuf the question of whether body camera footage capturing the inside of someone’s home requires a warrant. 

What happened in the Yusuf case?

Escalators are unique machines as they are in constant use but are rarely under supervision. Courts have considered under what circumstances manufacturers, installers, owners, or maintainers of escalators can be liable for injuries resulting from an escalator.

Common Carriers

In the United States, a common carrier is a person or other commercial enterprise that transports passengers for a fee and establishes that their service is open to the general public. Some common examples of a common carrier are railroads, airlines, and taxi services. Common carriers are held to a slightly higher standard of care than individuals, they are required to provide their passengers with the utmost duty of care. For example, common carriers are liable for injuries suffered by passengers as a result of a carrier’s negligence but do not ensure passenger safety. Companies and drivers are not responsible for injuries that happen because of causes that are out of their control.

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