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In a case that has attracted national attention, Massachusetts' highest court ruled Monday that judges in the state have the authority to order people to remain drug free as a condition of probation and under some circumstances order a defendant jailed for violating the drug-free requirement.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously that such a requirement does not violate the constitutional rights of people with substance use disorder or unfairly penalize them because of a medical condition beyond their control.

The court ruled in the case of Julie Eldred, who was jailed in 2016 after she tested positive for the powerful opioid fentanyl days into her probation on larceny charges. Eldred, who has severe substance use disorder, spent more than a week in jail after relapsing until her lawyer could find a bed for her at a treatment facility.

Eldred's lawyer argued before the high court in October that her client's substance use disorder made her powerless to control her desire to use drugs, and that jailing her effectively criminalized relapse - which often happens in the recovery process.

But the justices said the defendant's claims were based partly on untested science.

"Nor do we agree with the defendant that the requirement of remaining drug free is an outdated moral judgment about an individual's addiction," wrote Associate Justice Barbara Lenk. "The judge here did not abuse her discretion by imposing the special condition of probation requiring the defendant to remain drug free."

The court called the actions of two district court judges and the state probation department "exemplary." The justices noted that Eldred had admitted to police that she had stolen to support her drug habit.

Most addiction specialists - including groups such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse and American Society of Addiction Medicine - view substance use disorder as a brain disease that interferes with a person's ability to control his or her desire to use drugs.



Three Massachusetts teenagers charged with stealing a gun from a retired police officer are heading to court.

The Sun of Lowell reports that the boys, all age 15 or 16, are scheduled to appear in Lawrence Juvenile Court on Monday to answer to charges of possession of a firearm. One of the teens is also charged with larceny of a firearm and possession of ammunition without a proper permit.

Their names were not released because of their age. All are from Lowell. Authorities say the gun was stolen from inside a locked car in Dracut on June 5 and reported to police the next day.

Interim Lowell Police Superintendent Jonathan Webb says because the vehicle was locked and the firearm's locking mechanism was engaged the retired officer was not charged.





President Donald Trump’s selection of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as a new Supreme Court nominee last Monday culminates a three-decade project unparalleled in American history to install a reliable conservative majority on the nation’s highest tribunal, one that could shape the direction of the law for years to come.

“They’ve been pushing back for 30 years, and, obviously, the announcement is a big step in the right direction,” said Curt Levey, president of the Committee for Justice, a conservative activist group that’s been working toward this goal full time since 2005. “It’ll be the first time we can really say we have a conservative court, really the first time since the 1930s.”

This presumes that Trump can push Kavanaugh through a closely divided Senate heading into a midterm election season, hardly a given. More so than any nomination in a dozen years, Trump’s choice of a successor for Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the influential swing vote retiring at the end of the month, holds the potential of changing the balance of power rather than simply replacing a like-minded justice with a younger version.

But if the president succeeds in confirming his selection, the new justice is expected to join Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Neil M. Gorsuch in forming a much more consistently conservative majority than before.

That has not happened by accident. A network of activists and organizations has worked assiduously since the 1980s to reach this point, determined to avoid the disappointment they felt after Republican appointees like Earl Warren, William J. Brennan Jr., David H. Souter, Sandra Day O’Connor and Kennedy proved more moderate or liberal once they joined the court.



A German court on Thursday removed a hurdle to the extradition of a prominent Catalan politician on charges of embezzlement, setting the stage for a possible trial in Spain but on lesser charges than prosecutors there had hoped for.

In its decision in the case of Carles Puigdemont, the Schleswig-Holstein state court said the former Catalan leader could be extradited on embezzlement charges, but not rebellion.

The charge of rebellion is not recognized in Germany and the court said related German statutes such as that against treason did not apply, because his actions "did not rise to this kind of violence."

The charges are in connection with the Catalan regional government's unauthorized referendum last year on independence from Spain and a subsequent unilateral declaration of independence by the separatist-controlled regional parliament.

The Spanish government rejects Catalan independence. Puigdemont hailed the decision as a victory, tweeting "we have defeated the central lie of the (Spanish) state. German justice denies that the referendum of October 1 was rebellion."

The decision means that if he is extradited, Puigdemont can only stand trial in Spain on embezzlement charges over allegations he misused public funds, court spokeswoman Christine von Milczewski said.

Rebellion carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, while misuse of public funds carries up to 12 years.



Rebel Wilson has applied to Australia's highest court to increase the comic actress's payout from a defamation case against a magazine publisher.

The 38-year-old, best known for parts in the "Pitch Perfect" and "Bridesmaids" movies, was awarded in September an Australian record 4.6 million Australian dollars ($3.5 million) in damages.

A Victoria state Supreme Court jury found that that German publisher Bauer Media defamed her in a series of articles in 2015 claiming she lied about her age, the origin of her first name and her upbringing in Sydney.

But three judges on the Court of Appeal last month upheld an appeal by Bauer and slashed Wilson's payout to AU$600,000 ($454,000).

The appeal court ruled that the trial Judge John Dixon should not have compensated Wilson for film roles, including "Trolls" and "Kung Fu Panda 3," which she testified she had lost due to the damage the articles had done to her reputation.

She was also ordered to pay 80 percent of Bauer's legal costs in mounting its appeal.

Wilson lodged an application to the High Court late Wednesday to restore Dixon's ruling. The High Court registry made the court documents public on Thursday.

The Court of Appeal overturned Dixon's finding that Wilson's career had been on an "upward trajectory" before the articles, instead saying the judge had given "a picture of the plaintiff's career trajectory that significantly overstated its success and ignored its hiccups."

According to court documents, Wilson's lawyers will argue Dixon was correct, and that he was also correct in finding the articles caused a "huge international media firestorm" affecting Wilson's career and reputation.

The lawyer will also argue the Court of Appeal was wrong in concluding Wilson needed to prove economic loss by showing a project had been canceled.


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