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What Makes a Defendant Intellectually Disabled? United States Supreme Court May Decide.

The Eighth Amendment of the constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. A punishment is considered cruel and unusual for many reasons, one of which is if the punishment is grossly disproportionate to the crime committed. In general, sentencing an intellectually disabled person to death is considered cruel and unusual punishment. The standard for providing an intellectual disability may soon change if the United States Supreme Court grants cert to the case of Commonwealth v. Knight

What happened in the Knight case? 

Does Business Insurance Cover Interruptions Caused by COVID-19? SJC May Decide.

Verveine Corporation operate three restaurants, The Coppa, Toro, and Little Donkey,  located in Boston and Cambridge and share common owners. For many years these businesses were covered by insurance. Like many restaurants, the plaintiff’s businesses were successful until March of 2020 when they suffered losses as a result of the pandemic and government shutdown that rendered their insured properties unusable and inaccessible. Faced with this issue, the plaintiffs submitted insurance claims for loss of business income. However, their request was quickly rejected by a form letter. In June of 2020, the plaintiffs filed suit against Strathmore, alleging breach of contract for its denial of coverage and seeking declaratory judgment for enforcement of the insurance policies in the case of Verveine Corp. v. Strathmore.

The policy provided Business Income and Extra Expense Coverage, which covered, loss of business income due to necessary suspension of business operations during the period of restoration. The suspension must be caused by direct physical loss of or damage to property.  One of the restaurants, the Little Donkey, even contained an “Exclusion of Loss Due to Virus or Bacteria” which states that the policy  will not cover “loss or damage caused by or resulting from any virus, bacterium or other microorganism that induces or is capable of inducing physical distress, illness or disease.”

Do You Have a Right to Privacy on Social Media?

Many of us have privacy settings on social media, and restrict access to friends and family. However, is this enough for a court to find a reasonable expectation of privacy? The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court examined this question in Commonwealth v. Carrasquillo.

After accepting a friend request from an officer, the defendant posted a video to his social media that featured a person holding a gun. The undercover officer then recorded the post, which was later used in criminal proceedings against the defendant.

What is an “unduly suggestive” procedure in a criminal lineup?

According to the Constitution, it is a violation of Due Process if it is “unduly suggestive.” Examples of “unduly suggestive” can include things like being the only person of a certain race in a lineup, or being the only person who matches the suspect’s description. The Massachusetts Appellate Court recently decided a case that examined this issue in Commonwealth v. Travis.

What happened in the Travis case?

Remote Trial did not Violate Defendant’s Constitutional Rights 

Ever since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been some discussion as to whether remote trials are in violation of a defendant’s constitutional rights. In the recently decided case of Commonwealth v. Curran, the highest court in Massachusetts decided that it does not. 

What happened in the Curran case? 

Can the Police Test Your Blood Without Your Consent? The Massachusetts Appellate Court May Decide.

 The Massachusetts statutes state that when a chemical “test or analysis” of a defendant’s blood-alcohol content is made by or at the direction of police, it is admissible in court only if the defendant consents. In the case of Commonwealth v. Eric Moreau, the police obtained a warrant to seize blood drawn from the defendant by hospital personnel and then tested it in the State Police Crime Lab without the defendant’s consent. This case is pending before the Massachusetts Appellate Court and asks whether the result of the test is admissible in the prosecution of the defendant.

What happened in the Moreau case?

United States Supreme Court Blocks Vaccine or Test Rule

Over the past few weeks, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 variant has exploded. As a response to the rising cases, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandated that employers with at least 100 employees require covered workers to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. This week, the Supreme Court blocked this rule in National Federation of Independent Business v. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

What happened in this case?  

The Fourth Amendment is a very important right. However, it is often overshadowed by its many, many, exceptions. The Massachusetts Appellate Court recently examined a patfrisk case stemming from a motor vehicle stop. At this stop, the highly dangerous drug fentanyl was found. Fentanyl is often so potent that 3 milligrams is enough to kill a grown man. To put this into perspective, 3 milligrams of fentanyl is difficult to see with the naked eye. The Massachusetts Appellate Court looked at a motion to suppress fentanyl seized during a traffic stop in Commonwealth v. Wade

What happened in the Wade case?

Defendant Wade allegedly sped past a state trooper at 11 pm while the officer was pulled over on the side of the road conducting another stop. Wade was with four other passengers. Officers claimed that the car smelled like marijuana. In addition, the driver did not have a license or registration. Officer also said they found it suspicious that one passenger had his hood up and his hand in his pockets. The officer demanded he remove his hand from his pockets but the passenger did not. Other passengers were reaching in their pants and pockets. Wade put his hands in his waistband. The officers then pulled Wade out of the car and searched him. They found a pill bottle with the name removed. The fentanyl was found in the bottle.

United States Supreme Court Likely to Dramatically Change Access To Abortion in Summer 2022 

As of now, abortion is considered a constitutional right under Roe v. Wade. Roe was decided in 1973 when the Supreme Court held that the right for a woman to get an abortion is protected under the implied right to privacy that is in the “penumbras” of the constitution. This right to privacy extends to people’s private lives, including sex, contraception, marriage, child rearing, and abortion. 

There have been challenges to abortion before, but none as flagrant as the case that the Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments on called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which asks the Supreme Court “whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.” The state of Mississippi, where this clinic is located, is hoping that the Supreme Court will answer “yes.” 

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to Hear Police Surveillance Case 

Under the Fourth Amendment and the United States Supreme Court precedent, there is a reasonable expectation of privacy from government intrusion that all Americans enjoy. The home is one of the most sacred places when it comes to privacy. It is a place that is only subject to government intrusion with a warrant. However, what if the government intrudes into the home not physically, but by camera? The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard arguments next week in the case of Commonwealth v. Comenzo.  This case was argued on October 6, 2021.  

What happened in the case

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