On December 15, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of our clients, holding the Massachusetts Wiretap Statute (Mass. Gen. L. ch. 272, § 99) unconstitutional when applied to secret recordings of police officers discharging their official duties in
On November 25, 2020, Proskauer filed a motion for leave to file an amicus brief on behalf of Citizens for Juvenile Justice and the Committee for Public Counsel Services, Youth Advocacy Division in support of Raymond Concepcion, a youth with disabilities who was automatically tried as an adult, convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 20 years. Proskauer’s brief urged the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts to find that section 74 of the Youthful Offender Act is unconstitutional, reverse Raymond’s conviction and remand the case to the trial court for further proceedings.
When Raymond was 15 years old, two adult gang members ordered him to shoot a stranger, promising that he could leave the gang if he complied. Out of fear, Raymond did as instructed and shot a man, killing him. Raymond has an IQ of 66 and the developmental maturity of an eight- or nine-year-old. As a younger child living in the Dominican Republic, Raymond suffered emotional distress after witnessing shootings of multiple family members. When he was 12 years old, Raymond moved to Boston, where he attended three different public schools and failed nearly all his classes. An expert testified to Raymond’s psychological, social and intellectual capacities. Nevertheless, pursuant to section 74 of the Youthful Offender Act, due to his age and alleged offense, Raymond was automatically tried in adult court, where he was automatically sentenced to life imprisonment and given an above-minimum parole eligibility date. Raymond’s youth and intellectual disability were disregarded at his indictment, trial and sentencing.
One of the most important issues facing this country today is gun violence and how to prevent it. Lawyers can play a vital role in advising legislators who want to enact meaningful gun regulations, and by using their skills to try to prevent the adoption of laws designed to block meaningful gun regulations. Last month, a Proskauer team achieved a victory with nationwide implications by persuading a Florida state trial court to strike down a Florida gun law as unconstitutional.
The Florida law preempted “the whole field of regulation of firearms and ammunition,” meaning municipalities and counties could not pass gun regulations. Unfortunately, such a preemption provision is not unusual, but in 2011, the Florida legislature took it a step further by adding substantial penalties for violating the preemption. Under the law, if a municipality enacts a gun law later found preempted, it is subject to a private damages lawsuit with liability up to $100,000, plus uncapped attorneys’ fees, and the legislators who voted for the preempted law are subject to a $5,000 fine and removal from office by the governor.
Last week, in Martin v. Gross, Chief Judge Patti B. Saris of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts granted summary judgment in favor of our clients, finding the Massachusetts Wiretap Statute (Mass. Gen. L. ch. 272, § 99) unconstitutional when applied to secret recordings of government officials performing their duties in public. The decision is significant for its clarification of protections under the First Amendment.
The Massachusetts Wiretap Statute makes it a felony to “secretly” record oral communications writ large, regardless of the other circumstances of the recording. Our clients—two civil-rights activists in Boston and the plaintiffs in this case—challenged the Massachusetts Wiretap Statute as unconstitutional under the First Amendment as applied to secret recordings of police officers performing their duties in public. While both plaintiffs have openly recorded law enforcement officials performing their duties in public, both believe secret recording would protect their safety and more accurately document officials’ behavior in public.