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A key component to murder is mens rea or a guilty mind. What separates murder from manslaughter is intent. In Massachusetts involuntary manslaughter is defined as an unlawful killing that was unintentionally caused as the result of wanton or reckless conduct that a defendant engaged in or an unlawful killing that resulted during the commission of a dangerous battery by a defendant. 

Wanton and reckless conduct is typically an affirmative act, such as driving a vehicle or shooting a firearm, but an omission to act when there is a duty to do so. 

In order for a defendant to be convicted of involuntary manslaughter on a theory of wanton and reckless conduct, the prosecution must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt 

Last summer, during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, James Blake, a Black man was shot seven times in the back by Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer Rusten Shekey. Blake is now paralyzed. The shooting occurred in front of Blake’s three children. The officer who caused Blake’s horrific injuries will not press charges. Protests erupted in Kenosha and there was outrage nationwide.

Along with the protests came looting and discretion and property. Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, traveled to Kenosha brandishing an AR-15. He claimed he was present at the protests to protect people and property. Rittenhouse was pursued by a group of protestors. Joseph Rosenbaum, who was unarmed, launched at Rittenhouse in an attempt to grab his rifle. Rittenhouse shot him four times. After shooting, he was then chased by a crowd of at least a dozen people, he tripped and fell after being hit in the head. Maurice Freeland then attempted to jump-kick Rittenhouse and missed both shots Rittenhouse fired. While Rittenhouse was still on the ground, Anthony Huber struck him on the shoulder with a skateboard and attempted to take his rifle. Rittenhouse shot him in the chest, killing him. Finally, Gaige Grosskretuz approached Rittenhouse while pointing a handgun at him, Rittenhouse shot him again in the right arm.

Rittenhouse was charged with two counts of homicide, one count of attempted homicide, two counts of reckless endangerment, one count of unlawful possession of a firearm, and one count of curfew violation.

Governor Charlie Baker Introduces Legislation to Address “Drugged Driving”

Massachusetts was one of the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use in 2016. However, with marijuana legalization came accidents resulting from driving while high. To address is this issue, governor Baker announced a legislative proposal that would update Massachusetts’s road safety laws. The legislation is named for State Trooper Thomas Clardy, who was killed when a driver high on marijuana crashed into his car. 

This new bill would adopt the recommendations of the Special Commission on Operating Under the Influence and Impaired Driving by revoking someone’s license for six months if they are suspected of operating under the influence and marijuana and refuse to take a chemical test for impairment. Additionally, the bill would prohibit drivers from having loose or open packages of marijuana in their cars. This new bill would treat marijuana much like alcohol for driving purposes.  Currently, if someone is charged with OUI drugs, a police officer will typically file an immediate threat suspension which takes the person off of the road for an average of nine months to one year and requires the person to completely a substance abuse evaluation.  

Battered Women’s Syndrome – Fact or Fiction? 


It is no secret that domestic abuse remains a largely gendered crime. It is estimated that 1 in 3 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. Some courts look to the “battered women’s syndrome” standard in expert testimony. Battered Women’s Syndrome is most often discussed when a woman murders her abusive partner. However, it can also be used to explain irrational behavior that stems from a fear of abuse.


Dr. Lenore Walker is largely credited with creating the term in the 1970s to describe the psychological damage and behavior traits that are common in women who are repetitively abused by a partner. Currently, there is a circuit split in the federal courts regarding the issue of whether expert testimony explaining a psychological phenomenon known as Battered Women’s Syndrome, be admissible in trial. 

Under the Fourth Amendment, police cannot search a person’s home with a warrant, with limited exceptions. When there is a warrant issued, it must be particularized and specific. Officers are typically not allowed to search outside the limits of the warrant. The Massachusetts Appeals Court recently looked at the case of Commonwealth v. Campbellwhere police ventured outside the scope of their warrant. 

What happened in the Campbell case?

The police obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s home. At the time of the search, there were three cars parked in the gravel parking lot in front of the detached three-car garage located ten feet away from the house. The search warrant made no reference to the vehicles in the parking lot. While in the home executing the warrant, the police located the keys to the defendant’s car. The car was parked the furthest from the house, about twenty feet away. The officers searched the car and found thirty-two small bags containing a total of approximately fifteen grams of crack cocaine. 

Massachusetts No-Fix Law – Grounds for Dismissal in OUI Cases

A driver who is stopped by police for operating under the influence will either be placed under arrest, or will be charged with an OUI.  In a case where a driver is not placed under arrest, a citation provides notice of an OUI charge.

In Massachusetts, there is a statute referred to as the “no-fix” statute. This statute requires that, in most circumstances, a citation for a motor vehicle violation must be given to the driver at the time and place of the offence. The goal of this statute is to provide imitate notice to the driver and to prevent police tampering, or “fixing” of the ticket after the fact. Poor policing resulted in fixing tickets as personal favors, or making the decision to ticket a person on retaliatory or other illegitimate purposes.

Can a Case Based on a Photo be Decided Without the Photo? Massachusetts Appellate Court Decides. 

Photographing a nude or partially nude person in an area where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy is a crime in Massachusetts. But what if the alleged photograph is never produced at trial? The Massachusetts Appellate Court recently revisited this issue in Commonwealth v. Cooper

What happened in the Cooper case? 

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?

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