Articles Posted in Massachusetts Supreme Court

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Nautical Tours, Inc. filed a petition with the Department of Public Utilities concerning its proposed operation of amphibious motor vehicles for sightseeing and charter purposes over certain public ways in Boston. Nautical asked the Department to exercise its licensing authority to issue a municipal street license under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 159A, 1. The Department dismissed the petition for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that Nautical Tours was required to obtain a sightseeing license, which the Boston police commissioner had the exclusive authority to issue pursuant to St. 1931, c. 399. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed with the Department’s position that Nautical Tours needed to obtain a sightseeing license pursuant to St. 1931, c. 399, and the Department did not have any licensing authority in this regard pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 159A, 1. View "Nautical Tours, Inc. v. Dep't of Pub. Utils." on Justia Law

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For over twenty years, Plaintiff worked as a ninth grade science teacher. In 2004, Plaintiff was arrested for the purchase and possession of child pornography. In 2006, Plaintiff resigned his position. In 2007, Plaintiff pleaded guilty to eleven counts of purchasing and possessing child pornography. After his arrest but prior to his plea and sentencing, Plaintiff filed a retirement application with the Massachusetts Teachers’ Retirement System (MTRS). Plaintiff received retirement benefits until 2009, at which time the MTRS Board concluded that Plaintiff’s pension was forfeited by operation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 32, 15(4) due to his convictions. The superior court vacated the decision of the Board on the basis that there was not a direct link between Plaintiff’s criminal offenses and his position as a teacher. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that forfeiture of Plaintiff’s retirement benefits under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 32, 51(4) was not warranted because Plaintiff’s offenses neither directly involved Plaintiff’s position as a teacher nor contravened a particular law applicable to that position. View "Garney v. Mass. Teachers' Ret. Sys." on Justia Law

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Trenea Figgs was a participant in the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 8 program, which was administered by the Boston Housing Authority. After the discovery by police officers of marijuana and a loaded firearm in Figgs’s apartment, the BHA notified Figgs of its intent to terminate her participation in the Section 8 program due to violations of her lease. A hearing officer concluded that termination of Figgs’s Section 8 housing subsidy was proper in light of her serious lease violation. The Housing Court reversed and ordered the BHA to reinstate Figgs’s Section 8 housing subsidy. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the judgment of the Housing Court, holding that, notwithstanding the enactment of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 94C, 32L, which decriminalized the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, the hearing officer properly concluded that Figgs violated her lease based on evidence of other criminal activity in Figgs’s rental premises, and the violation warranted Figgs’s termination from the Section 8 program. View "Figgs v. Boston Housing Auth." on Justia Law

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Soon after beginning work for the City of Springfield, Joseph McDowell achieved the status of a permanent, tenured civil service employee. McDowell was later provisionally promoted. McDowell worked in the second of his provisional positions for several years until the City terminated his employment. While McDowell’s appeal from his termination was pending before the Civil Service Commission, McDowell pleaded guilty to filing false tax returns. The Commission concluded (1) McDowell was entitled to appeal his termination pursuant to the relevant provisions of the civil service statute; and (2) the City was entitled to suspend McDowell upon his indictment and thereafter entitled to discharge him upon his conviction. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded, holding (1) McDowell, who held a tenured civil service position but then accepted a provisional promotion, was entitled to appeal his termination to the Commission; and (2) under the particular circumstances of this case, the Commission was permitted to take the criminal proceeding against McDowell and its disposition into account, but McDowell’s indictment for filing false tax returns did not qualify as an indictment for misconduct in his employment within the meaning of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 268A, 25, and thus a suspension based on the indictment would not have been valid. View "City of Springfield v. Civil Serv. Comm'n" on Justia Law

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In 2009, the Energy Facilities Siting Board approved the petition of Brockton Power Company, LLC to build and operate a combined-cycle energy generating facility powered by natural gas and ultra-low sulfur distillate in the City of Brockton. The City, the Town of West Bridgewater, and a group of residents of the City and Town, all intervenors in the proceedings below, filed appeals of the decision. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the Board, holding (1) the Intervenors’ contention that the Board’s failure to apply unspecified “substantive equal protection” principles to its review of the proposed facility was without merit, as there was no requirement in the 2002 environmental justice policy to do so; (2) the Board did not abuse its discretion by relying on the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for fine particulate matter; (3) the Board did not erroneously accept Logan Airport weather data as representative of the proposed facility site; (4) the Board did not abuse its discretion in determining that Brockton Power’s evidence regarding the facility’s impact on the Town’s water supply was accurate and complete; and (5) the Board did not improperly designate delivery routes to and from the facility. View "City of Brockton v. Energy Facilities Siting Bd." on Justia Law

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In 2009, the Energy Facilities Siting Board approved the petition of Brockton Power Company LLC to build and operate a combined-cycle energy generating facility powered by natural gas and ultra-low sulfur distillate in the City of Brockton. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the Board’s decision. In 2009, while the consolidated appeal was pending, Brockton Power submitted a project change filing (PCF) to the Board seeking approval of three changes to its project. The Board denied one of Brockton Power’s proposed changes but approved the two other project changes. Both Brockton Power and the City appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the Board’s PCF decision in all respects, holding (1) the procedure the Board adopted to review potentially material changes to Brockton Power’s project did not constitute an abuse of its discretion; (2) the Board’s approval of Brockton Power’s proposed use of water from the City’s advanced wastewater reclamation facility for the facility’s cooling tower was not invalid; and (3) the Board did not err by concluding that the CO emissions from a gas-only plant satisfied statutory standards. View "Brockton Power Co. LLC v. Energy Facilities Siting Bd." on Justia Law

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A Massachusetts regulation requires that each “entrance” to a public building or facility be accessible persons with disabilities. J.M. Hollister, LLC (Hollister) operated a retail store in Kingston with three doorways. At issue in this case was whether the three doorways constituted separate entrances or a single integrated entrance. Hollister applied for a variance from its obligation to make all public entrances to the store handicapped accessible. The board ultimately denied the variance and ordered Hollister to bring the store into compliance. The superior court affirmed the board’s decision that the doorways constituted separate entrances and found that there was substantial evidence to support the denial of a variance. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) the board reasonably could conclude from the evidence that the three doorways were not integrated but rather constituted separate access points into the store in both form and function; and (2) the board’s denial of the variance was based on substantial evidence. View "J.M. Hollister, LLC v. Architectural Access Bd." on Justia Law

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The Sex Offender Registry Board notified Petitioner that it had preliminarily classified him as a level three sex offender. Petitioner requested a hearing. After the hearing had been completed but before the hearing examiner had rendered a decision, a successor examiner was appointed. The successor examiner then issued his decision classifying Petitioner as a level three offender. The superior court affirmed the Board’s decision. Petitioner sought an order directing the Board to produce a transcript of his classification hearing under 803 Code Mass. Regs. 4.22(4), which directs the Board to provide a successor hearing examiner and the parties with a copy of the transcript where the successor examiner is appointed after the presentation of evidence is complete and the record closed. Despite this requirement, no copy of the classification transcript was ever provided to Petitioner. Petitioner’s request was denied. Petitioner then filed a mandamus petition in the county court seeking to compel the Board to provide a copy of the hearing transcript. A single justice denied the motion. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the single justice and remanded the case to the county court where an order shall enter directing the Board to produce a copy of the transcript. View "Doe v. Sex Offender Registry Bd." on Justia Law

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Patricia Campatelli, the Register of Probate and Insolvency for Suffolk County, was suspended with pay pending further investigation of allegations of inappropriate conduct and mismanagement in the performance of her duties. Campatelli filed a complaint in the county court seeking a judgment declaring that the three court officials who placed her on administrative leave did not possess the authority to suspend her pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 4. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court Department, the Chief Justice of the Trial Court, and the Court Administrator possessed the authority to suspend Campatelli with pay. View "Campatelli v. Chief Justice of the Trial Court" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs were granted relief an action filed against Marion Haddad and the Holy Annunciation Monastery Church of the Golden Hills. Plaintiffs sought to satisfy the judgment, which represented the proceeds from a sale of property. The court ordered Holy Annunciation and Haddad to hold the proceeds of the sale in escrow, but Haddad deposited $40,000 of the proceeds in her retirement account with the State Board of Retirement. When Plaintiffs received no payment for the judgment, they brought this case in part to name the Board as trustee for the $40,000. Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that Haddad’s retirement account was exempt from attachment and that the Commonwealth was immune from suit. The superior court granted Defendants’ motion. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding (1) Haddad did not have rights in the $40,000 she deposited with the Board, and therefore, those funds were not statutorily prohibited from being subject to attachment; and (2) the doctrine of sovereign immunity did not bar Plaintiffs from summoning the Board as trustee with respect to those funds. View "Randall v. Haddad" on Justia Law