We are open during COVID-19 and available to speak about your case by video conference, over the phone or in person.

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.

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Decides Juror Discrimination Case 

During jury selection, attorneys are allowed to object to a proposed juror without giving a reason for the objection. This is called a peremptory challenge. However, attorneys throughout history have used peremptory challenges to strike jurors based on racial stereotypes. In the 1986 case of Batson v. Kentucky, the United States Supreme Court held that a prosecutor cannot use peremptory challenges to exclude jurors solely on the basis of race. 

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held Commonwealth v. Carter that it was an abuse of discretion for the trial judge not to require the prosecution to provide a race-neutral reason for its challenge of at least one Black juror. 

Occasionally, an upcharge of prices for a service is an honest mistake or a misunderstanding. However, when a worker overcharges a person on purpose, this can be considered larceny. In Commonwealth v. Watterson the Massachusetts Appeals Court examined a case where a defendant targeted and overcharged elderly customers for his services. 

Defendant Watterson provided services as an oil burner technician, plumber, and drain specialist. The State alleged that he targeted and stole from various elderly and unsuspecting customers. The judge found him guilty of one count of larceny by false pretenses and one count of larceny from an elderly person. Defendant challenged the sufficiently of the evidence. 

What happened in the Watterson case? 

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Decides Admissibility of Cell Site Location Information

Cell site location information (CSLI) is a highly controversial form of evidence used in courts across the country. CSLI allows cell phone companies to give your location information to law enforcement if you are a suspect in a crime. CSLI raises many privacy and seizure issues, including an issue surrounding the right to privacy. Is CSLI too intrusive, or is it a technology that will lower rates of violent crime?

In Commonwealth v. Louis, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court released a holding that may be detrimental to future cyber-privacy rights.

Contact Information