Articles Posted in Massachusetts Supreme Court

Margaret Marshall, who delivered the opinion in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, 798 N.E.2d 941, has announced that she will be stepping down from her post on the Court. Unfortunately, Justice Marshall’s husband has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and she will be stepping down to care for him.

Justice Marshall will be well remembered for the Goodridge decision which was a State and National landmark decision. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Marshall said that the State may not “deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry.” In so ruling she also stated that “The right to marry is not a privilege conferred by the State, but a fundamental right that is protected against unwarranted State interference.” Constitutionally it was determined that there is no rational basis to deny same sex couples the right to marry.

Regardless, of political or moral bent, It was a courageous and important decision. Advocates for same sex rights hoped that this State decision would lead to a National right to marry for same sex couples. Unfortunately, the decision seems to have created as much tension as it has freedoms.

Massachusetts enacted a law in 2006 that allows for GPS units to be placed on sex offenders on probation.  Today, in Commonwealth v. Cory, the SJC, split 4-3 held that the 2006 law could not be enforced retroactively for offenders convicted before 2006.  The reasoning of the court, namely, that it “burdens liberty” because it is a permanent intrusive attachment with continuous surveillance.

Sex offenders have a well documented high rate of recidivism and it is for this reason that the 2006 law passed despite the obvious Constitutional dilemma it proposed.  As the SJC held today, public safety may have to give way to constitutional protections against government intrusion into the lives of citizens, including sex offenders.

It is a question that divides many of us and cuts to the center of Constitutional protections.  What is more important, the rights of the criminal or the protection of potential victims?  The ruling today makes this question much more difficult in Massachusetts.

Welcome to the first post of my new blog that begins today on the same day that I open my own practice.  I will focus on the case law and statutes of Rhode Island and Massachusetts as well as the areas in which I practice.  I hope to be helpful and informative and I accept your opinions and criticism to each and every post.

Since this is the first – here is a bit about me…

Prior to graduating from Boston College Law School, I spent several years as a personal injury adjuster for a national insurance company. In this capacity I gained experience negotiating and resolving the most serious forms of injury, including brain injuries, scarring, fractures, burns, and fatalities. I negotiated and settled hundreds of cases and participated in mediations and arbitrations for the most complex of situations.