Massachusetts Law Updates

Official Blog of the Massachusetts Trial Court Law Libraries

Category Archives: New Cases

“Mode of Operation” Approach in Premises Liablity Posted on May 26

A recent ruling by the Appeals Court clarified the so-called “mode of operation” approach to premises liability.   Under the approach, a plaintiff injured as the result of a dangerous condition on an owner’s property is relieved of the need to prove that the owner had   …Continue Reading “Mode of Operation” Approach in Premises Liablity

“No-Tipping” Policies Posted on Apr 24

A recent ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court says that an employer who employs wait staff employees and has a clearly communicated “no-tipping” policy may retain the tips left by customers or make the tips available to other customers. In 2003, the defendant in   …Continue Reading “No-Tipping” Policies

Juveniles’ Right to Consult “Interested Adult” Extended Posted on Apr 13

In Commonwealth v. Smith, decided on April 9, the Supreme Judicial Court extended the “interested adult” rule to apply to 17- year-olds going forward. Under this rule, “a juvenile must be afforded a meaningful opportunity to consult with an “interested adult” before waiving his or   …Continue Reading Juveniles’ Right to Consult “Interested Adult” Extended

When One Parent Wants to Move: Court Weighs Parental Advantage and Best Interests of the Child Posted on Mar 20

A recent case from the Appeals Court takes on the issues involved in a removal case.  When a parent requests permission to move out of state, the court must determine the real advantage to the moving parent and balance it against the best interests of the   …Continue Reading When One Parent Wants to Move: Court Weighs Parental Advantage and Best Interests of the Child

Parent has a Right to an Attorney in Guardianship Cases Posted on Feb 11

In Guardianship of V.V., decided yesterday, the Supreme Judicial Court held that “a parent whose minor child is the subject of a guardianship proceeding pursuant to G. L. c. 190B, § 5-206, and who cannot afford counsel, has a right to have counsel appointed and   …Continue Reading Parent has a Right to an Attorney in Guardianship Cases

New Mandatory Jury Instruction on Reasonable Doubt Posted on Jan 30

New Mandatory Jury Instruction on Reasonable Doubt

For over a century, judges in Massachusetts have been strongly encouraged to use the “Webster” instruction on reasonable doubt, written by Chief Justice Lemuel Shaw in Commonwealth v. Webster, 5 Cush. 295 (1850), when explaining the legal concept to jurors in criminal cases.   In fact, “the Webster charge   …Continue Reading New Mandatory Jury Instruction on Reasonable Doubt

Tree cutting statute further defined Posted on Jan 22

In a recent Appeals Court unreported decision, Joseph v. Nathanson, the appeals court has given us a broader definition of “destroyed” or cutting down. The statute is Mass. General Law chapter 242 sec. 7, which reads : “A person who without license willfully cuts down,   …Continue Reading Tree cutting statute further defined

Memory and Eyewitness Identification Posted on Jan 21

Recent advances in the study of human memory have changed the way we understand memory.  As science has progressed, the courts have tried to adjust the law to incorporate the principles that are “generally accepted”. In 2013, the SJC study group released a report on   …Continue Reading Memory and Eyewitness Identification

Eyewitness Identification Posted on Jan 13

Yesterday, in Commonwealth v. Gomes, the Supreme Judicial Court issued “a new provisional jury instruction regarding eyewitness identification.” The court explained, “We have made the jury instruction provisional to allow for public comment and possible future revision before we declare it a model, but it should   …Continue Reading Eyewitness Identification

New Standard for Admission of In-Court Identifications Posted on Dec 17

In Commonwealth v. Crayton, 470 Mass. 228, the Supreme Judicial Court announced today that the court is establishing “a new standard for the admission of in-court identifications where the eyewitness had not previously participated in an out-of-court identification procedure.” The Standard “Where an eyewitness has   …Continue Reading New Standard for Admission of In-Court Identifications