Articles Posted in Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

by
In these two cases, the Sex Offender Registry Board (SORB) contended that when it unsuccessfully seeks after July 23, 2013 to reclassify a level two sex offender as a level three sex offender, that individual is reclassified a level two sex offender for purposes of Moe v. Sex Offender Registry Board, 6 NE 3d 530 (Mass. 2014), and therefore, SORB may publish the individual’s registry information on the Internet. In Moe, the Supreme Judicial Court permanently enjoined SORB from publishing on the Internet the registry information of any individual who was classified as a level two sex offender on or before July 12, 2013 unless that individual is later reclassified a level two or level three sex offender. In the instant cases, a hearing officer denied SORB’s motion for reclassification and retained the earlier level two classification. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded to the superior court for the issuance of a permanent injunction barring publication of each plaintiff’s registry information on the Internet unless and until the offender is reclassified a level three sex offender, holding that, under Moe, a sex offender is “reclassified” only where a hearing officer allows SORB’s motion to increase his classification based on new information indicating an increased risk of sexual recidivism. View "Doe, Sex Offender Registry Board No. 326573 v. Sex Offender Registry Board" on Justia Law

by
Michael Langan, a physician certified by the Board of Registration in Medicine, entered into a letter of agreement with the Board under which Langan agreed to certain conditions in order to continue practicing medicine. The Board later determined that Langan was in violation of his letter of agreement for a second time and therefore suspended his license. Langan then twice petitioned the Board for a stay of his suspension. The Board denied both petitions. Langan filed a petition for relief under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 249, 4, which was denied by a single justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the Board did not err in denying Langan’s petition to stay his petition, and therefore, the single justice properly denied relief in the nature of certiorari. View "Langan v. Board of Registration in Medicine" on Justia Law

by
In 2010, the Secretary of the Executive Office of Administration and Finance submitted to the legislature a request for an appropriation to fund collective bargaining agreements between the Commonwealth and two public employee unions reached more than one year earlier. The Department of Labor Relations concluded that by including information about anticipated fiscal effects of a legislative decision to fund collective bargaining agreements in his request for an appropriation, the Secretary violated its Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 150E, 7(b) duty and committed a prohibited practice under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 150E, 10(a)(5) by failing to bargain in good faith. The Commonwealth Employment Relations Board affirmed. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed, holding that the Secretary did not violate section 7(b) or commit a prohibited practice in violation of section 10(a)(5). View "Commissioner of Administration & Finance v. Commonwealth Employment Relations Board" on Justia Law

by
In 2014, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission awarded a gaming license to Wynn MA, LLC. An unsuccessful applicant for the license (the company), the city that would have hosted the unsuccessful applicant, a labor union, and individual citizens (collectively, Plaintiffs) filed two complaints alleging numerous defects in the Commission’s process for awarding the license. The Commission moved to dismiss both complaints. The superior court allowed the motions on all but one count of one of the complaints, permitting only the company’s claim for certiorari review to survive. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judge’s allowance of the Commission’s motion to dismiss, holding (1) the motion judge correctly dismissed the company’s claim under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 30A, 14; (2) the judge correctly found that certiorari review of the licensing decision was available; (3) the city and the union lacked standing to assert their certiorari and declaratory judgment claims; and (4) the individual plaintiffs plausibly stated a claim for relief under the open meeting law. Remanded. View "City of Revere v. Massachusetts Gaming Commission" on Justia Law

by
Under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 63, corporations that generate business income in the Commonwealth and other states must pay taxes on that income according to an apportionment formula that seeks to tax the corporation’s income generated in Massachusetts. For a “manufacturing corporation,” the statutory formula is based solely on the corporation’s sales. The Appellate Tax Board determined that Genentech, Inc., a Delaware corporation with a principal place of business in California that earns business income in the Commonwealth, qualified as a manufacturing corporation for the tax years 1998 through 2004. On appeal, Genentech appealed that determination, among other things. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding (1) Genentech qualified in each of the tax years at issue as a “manufacturing corporation” as defined in Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 63, 38(1)(1) and, under section 38(1)(2), was required to apportion its income under the single-factor formula using solely the statute’s sales factor; and (2) the Board properly rejected Genentech’s claim that application of the statute’s single-factor apportionment formula based on sales to the company violated the Commerce Clause of the federal Constitution. View "Genentech, Inc. v. Commissioner of Revenue" on Justia Law

by
The Department of Mental Health (DMH) submitted a proposal to the Auditor of the Commonwealth that would privatize certain of its state-run mental health services. The Auditor issued a written decision approving the proposed privatization contract, concluding that the privatization proposal met the requirements of the Pacheco Law. The Pacheco Law establishes procedures that agencies must follow when beginning the bidding process for an entering into a privatization contract. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the Auditor’s decision, holding that the Auditor did not abuse her discretion in determining that DMH’s privatization proposal met the requirements of the Pacheco Law. View "Service Employees International Union, Local 509 v. Auditor of the Commonwealth" on Justia Law

by
Service Employees International Union, Local 509 (Union) brought a declaratory judgment action against the Department of Mental Health (DMH) maintaining that certain contracts DMH made with private vendors were “privatization contracts” subject to the requirements of the Pacheco Law. The Union sought a declaration invalidating the contracts because DMH did not comply with the statutory prerequisites of the Pacheco Law. The case was dismissed. The Supreme Judicial Court remanded the case. On remand, DMH again successfully moved to dismiss the Union’s declaratory judgment action on the basis that it was moot because the initial contracts had expired and the remaining extant renewal contracts were immune from challenge by virtue of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 7, 53. The Union appealed, asserting that because the non-compliant initial contracts were invalid under Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 7, 54, so too were any renewal contracts made pursuant to them. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of dismissal, holding that the protection afforded renewal contracts by section 53 is not extended to those renewal contracts made pursuant to timely challenged and subsequently invalidated privatization contracts under section 54. View "Service Employees International Union, Local 509 v. Department of Mental Health" on Justia Law

by
Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 148, 26I, the residential sprinkler provision, mandates the installation of automatic sprinklers in certain buildings. Plaintiff, the owner of two vacant apartment buildings that he intended to return to occupancy, argued that the rehabilitation he undertook to the buildings did not trigger the requirement that sprinklers be installed. The City of Holyoke’s fire chief ordered that automatic sprinkler systems be installed in each building. McLaurin then filed these complaints seeking relief in the nature of certiorari and declaratory, arguing that the orders were arbitrary and capricious. A judge of the Housing Court affirmed the chief’s orders. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment affirming the fire chief’s decision, holding that the Housing Court judge was not in a position to ascertain whether the decision was legally erroneous or arbitrary and capricious. Remanded to the fire chief for further proceedings. View "MacLaurin v. City of Holyoke" on Justia Law

by
The Department of Public Utilities issued an order determining that the plain language of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 164, 94A provides the Department with the statutory authority to review and approve ratepayer-backed, long-term contracts entered into by electric distribution companies for additional natural gas pipeline capacity in the Commonwealth. Plaintiffs filed separate petitions asking that the order be set aside on the ground that it was based on an erroneous interpretation of law. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the Department’s order, holding (1) the order of the Department is a properly promulgated rule or regulation; but (2) the order is invalid in light of the statutory language and purpose of section 94A, as amended by the 1997 Restructuring Act, because it would undermine the main objectives of the Act. View "ENGIE Gas & LNG LLC v. Dep’t of Pub. Utils." on Justia Law

by
This matter stemmed between a billing dispute between Petitioner, an attorney, and Respondent, the Committee for Public Counsel Services. Certain administrative proceedings culminated in a hearing, and the hearing officer rendered a decision adverse to Petitioner. Thereafter, Petitioner filed two separate complaints, one in the nature of certiorari and one for a declaratory judgment. The trial judge denied the motion on the certiorari action but allowed the motion in the declaratory judgment action. Respondent later moved to dismiss the certiorari action for failure to prosecute. The trial court allowed the motion. Petitioner then filed papers in the county court entitled “writ of mandamus” and “writ of certiorari,” which a single justice treated as a petition pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3. The single justice denied relief. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse his discretion in denying relief. View "Schubert v. Comm. for Pub. Counsel Servs." on Justia Law