Articles Posted in Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

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Since 2009, AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, Inc. (ASGCC) has been operating a free hypodermic needle access program in a village in Barnstable. The Town of Barnstable ordered the cessation of the program, asserting that ASGCC was in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 94C, 27 and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 111, 215. In response to the Town’s cease and desist order, ASGCC filed this action seeking injunctive relief and a declaration that its nonsale needle access program was not statutorily prohibited. The superior court judge reported the question to the Appeals Court, and the Supreme Judicial Court allowed ASGCC’s application for direct appellate review. The court remanded the matter to the superior court for entry of a declaration that neither statute prohibits ASGCC from engaging in free distribution of hypodermic needles and an injunction permanently enjoining enforcement of the Town’s order to cease and desist, holding that the plain language of the statutes does not proscribe free distribution of hypodermic needs by a private individual or organization such as ASGCC that does not operate a program implemented by the Department of Public Health. View "AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, Inc. v. Town of Barnstable" on Justia Law

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Appellant filed a Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 petition seeking interlocutory relief from an order of the superior court temporarily committing him to the Massachusetts Treatment Center pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123A, 12(e) pending a probable cause determination on the Commonwealth’s petition for Appellant’s civil commitment as a sexually dangerous person. A single justice denied relief on the ground that Appellant had an adequate remedy in the ordinary appellate process. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that all of Appellant’s arguments as to the merits of his petition could be raised on appeal from an adverse final judgment in this matter. View "Schumacher v. Commonwealth" on Justia Law

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After N.L. was admitted to a mental health facility (hospital) the hospital filed a petition for commitment pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123, 7 and 8 and for authorization for medical treatment for mental illness pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123, 8B. After a hearing on the petitions the judge ordered N.L. to be involuntarily committed to the hospital for a period not to exceed six months and allowed the hospital’s petition to treat N.L. with antipsychotic medication against his will. N.L. appealed. The Appellate Division of the District Court Department dismissed N.L.’s appeal as moot because he had since been discharged from the hospital. N.L.again appealed. The Supreme Judicial Court dismissed N.L.’s appeal as moot but exercised its discretion to address the issue before it, holding that where a person or his or her counsel requests a continuance of a hearing pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123, 7(c) or 8B, the grant of the continuance is mandatory where a denial thereof is reasonably likely to prejudice a person’s ability to prepare a meaningful defense. View "In re N.L." on Justia Law

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A district court judge ordered Petitioner committed to the Women’s Addiction Treatment Center pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 123, 35, a statute that authorizes the involuntary civil commitment of a person, for care and treatment, where there is a likelihood of serious harm that could result from the person’s alcoholism or substance abuse. The Appellate Division dismissed Petitioner’s appeal. Petitioner subsequently filed a petition for relief pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 seeking to vacate the order. A single justice reserved and reported the case to the full Court. The Supreme Judicial court dismissed the petition for relief as moot, holding (1) because Petitioner was no longer committed to the facility, her challenge to the order of commitment was rendered moot; but (2) because this case raised important issues concerning the operation of section 35 as well as the Uniform Trial Court Rules for Civil Commitment Proceedings for Alcohol and Substance Abuse scheduled to go into effect on February 1, 2016, the Court decided the case and concluded that the evidence in this case did not appear to satisfy the requirements of section 35 for an order of commitment. View "In re G.P." on Justia Law