Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Reverses Murder Conviction Due to Unexplained Exclusion of Black Person from Jury, Despite Sufficient Evidence Otherwise to Convict

SUMMARY: The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) reversed a conviction for murder. Despite finding that there was sufficient evidence to support the conviction, the SJC found that the Superior Court had abused its discretion and created a constitutional structural error by failing to require the prosecution to give an adequate and genuine race-neutral reason for excluding a certain black person from the jury. The SJC also instructed the Superior Court

Appeals Court Affirms Sex Offense Convictions, Despite Arguments Raised Regarding the First Amendment, Legislative Intent, and Limiting Instructions to the Jury

SUMMARY: The Massachusetts Appeals Court affirmed the defendant’s convictions for child rape, child pornography, and dissemination of matter harmful to minors when a 23-year old man and a 13-14 year old girl had sexual contact both in person and via cell phone. The defendant raised arguments based on legislative intent, First Amendment, and Improper jury instruction grounds, none of which the court found persuasive. The jury was notably limited by