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Selected Case Results*

Motion to Vacate Continuance Without a Finding

Laura's client was unable to travel outside the country or become a citizen, and risked deportation due to a 30 year old case that wasn't even considered a conviction under Massachusetts law. Laura found a legal basis to seek to vacate that old case, and worked with the client to get together some additional information to submit to the district attorney's office, who commendably agreed to not oppose the motion since my client had lived an otherwise exemplary life. The case was vacated and dismissed by agreement.

Sex Offender Registry Board Level 1 Initial Classification

Most of the time when Laura gets retained in a SORB matter her client has already received his or her initial classification, which the client has requested a hearing to contest. But sometimes clients reach out earlier, and Laura is able to step in at this important stage to assist the client in assembling the best evidence to submit to SORB to help the agency make it's preliminary classification. Laura worked closely with this client and his family to put together strong evidence of her client's rehabilitation and reduced risk, and SORB came back with a recommended initial classification of one. The client was not only happy to obtain the best result possible, but he was also able to keep the cost of representation down by avoiding an evidentiary hearing.

Sex Offender Registry Board Level 1 Reclassification

After registering for nearly 15 years, Laura's client's risk to reoffend had been significantly reduced by the client's stable lifestyle. Laura assembled and interpreted the relevant recidivism research and applied it to the facts of her client's case, and was able to persuade SORB to reduce the client to a Level 1.

Motion to Vacate Plea

A superior court judge allowed our client to vacate his plea because he did not understand at the time that the "good deal" he was getting wasn't so good after all since it would result in his deportation from the place he has lived since he was a child. Our client got ordered deported on the basis of this conviction many years ago, but until recently his country was not issuing travel documents for its citizens, so he's been able to remain here. This recently changed and he was in imminent threat of deportation. Now our client can finally sleep easy knowing that he will not be separated from his wife and four children.

Motion to Vacate Continuance Without a Finding

When our client admitted to sufficient facts to drug distribution charges 15 years ago he never thought the case would have immigration consequences for him since it was ultimately dismissed. His attorney didn't explain to him that his admission would be considered a conviction for immigration purposes, and he was recently denied citizenship and was at risk of being deported because of this case. After an evidentiary hearing the district court allowed our motion and vacated our client's conviction so he is not only safe from deportation, but he can now reapply for citizenship.

Sex Offender Registry Board Classification

We obtained a Level 2 classification in a case with difficult facts where SORB gave our client a preliminary classification level of 3. The hearing examiner ultimately agreed with us that our client did not pose a high risk of reoffense or degree of dangerousness to the community, and our client's personal registration information will not be actively disseminated.

Motion to Vacate Plea

Even though he only received probation at the time, our client got deported based on a single offense he committed when he was 19-years-old. We presented substantial evidence that our client's plea should be vacated. The superior court judge agreed and allowed our motion after hearing testimony and arguments. Our client is working with an immigration attorney to return to the United States to be reunited with his family.

Motion to Vacate Plea

When our client was 18-years-old he pleaded guilty to a very minor drug possession offense that he had no idea would have serious immigration consequences later on and make him ineligible for discretionary relief in immigration court, despite the fact that he's lived here legally for 25 years. A judge allowed our client to withdraw his guilty plea and he is now eligible to apply for cancellation of removal in immigration court, which could prevent his deportation.

Sex Offender Registry Board Classification

SORB preliminarily classified our client as a Level 2 offender, which means his personal information would be available to the public, and his photo and address would be posted on the internet. After a hearing we were able to obtain a Level 1 classification. Our client's personal information will not be available to the public and he can maintain his privacy.

Motion to Vacate Continuance Without a Finding

Our client was facing devastating immigration consequences in part due to a 20-year-old continuance without a finding for possession of marijuana. Even though marijuana is legal now, people with old marijuana convictions can still be deported. We filed a motion to vacate the defendant's continuance without a finding, which was allowed by the court.

Motion to Revise and Revoke

The way our client's sentence in his criminal case was structured, he was left without the possibility of being able to apply for any form of discretionary relief in immigration court when he was placed in deportation proceedings. This was even though he had lived in the United States his whole life. We filed a motion to revise and revoke in criminal court and were able to adjust his sentence so that he was eligible to apply for cancellation of removal which he was granted with the help of an immigration attorney, and he has returned home to his family.

Appeal of Denial of Motion to Vacate Plea

Our client attempted to vacate his 10-year-old guilty plea to unarmed robbery and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon because it had devastating immigration consequences, but his motion was denied. We were retained to handle the appeal and the Appeals Court reversed the denial of the motion and remanded the case back to the trial court for further findings and rulings.

Sex Offender Registry Board Classification

The Sex Offender Registry Board preliminarily classified our client as a Level 2 offender even though his only sex offense conviction was for a very minor offense from several years ago. A level 2 classification would mean that our client's information would be available to the public, including on the internet. We argued that a Level 1 classification was more appropriate, and the hearing examiner agreed.

Motion to Vacate Plea

Our client had lived in the United States since coming here with his family when he was 6 years old, but was going to get deported because he had pleaded guilty a few years ago to a minor drug offense. Following an evidentiary hearing, we were able to vacate that plea. Our client is no longer deportable and can remain in the United States with his family.

Sex Offender Registry Board Reclassification

Based on newly committed offenses, the Sex Offender Registry Board sought to increase our client's classification level from a 2 to a 3. We had an expert forensic psychiatrist evaluate our client and testify to the Board that he did not pose a high risk of reoffense or degree of dangerousness. Following the hearing, the hearing examiner found that upwards re-classification was not warranted and retained our client's level 2 classification.

 

 

Sex Offender Registry Board Classification

The Sex Offender Registry Board sought to classify our client as a Level 2 offender. After an administrative hearing where we submitted substantial evidence demonstrating that our client was at a low risk to reoffend, the hearing examiner agreed and classified him as a Level 1 offender.

Motion to Revise and Revoke Sentence

Our client’s conviction several years ago for a minor larceny offense made her deportable as an aggravated felon because the sentence imposed was greater than one year. There is no relief available in immigration court for noncitizens who have an aggravated felony conviction, so her deportation was assured even though she has lived in the United States since she came here with her family when she was just a child. We successfully reduced her sentence through a motion to revise and revoke so she no longer suffers from immigration consequences, and she is now eligible to apply for legal permanent residence.

 

Commonwealth v. Hamel, 91 Mass. App. Ct. 349 (2017)**

The Appeals Court reversed our client’s convictions for indecent assault and battery on a person under the age of 14 when the court erroneously admitted the complainant’s medical records into evidence at his trial and the prosecutor made an improper closing argument which unfairly bolstered the credibility of the complaining witness.

 

Motion to Vacate Plea

Our client had pleaded guilty several years ago to a minor property offense that had devastating immigration consequences for him. We were able to vacate his criminal conviction so that he was no longer deportable as a result, and he is now eligible to seek lawful resident status in this country.

 

Motion to Vacate Plea

Our client, a lawful permanent resident, had been convicted of two OUI offenses. The way the evidence was presented, the charges were duplicative of each other, and he should not have been convicted of both. One of the charges had dire immigration consequences that caused him to be him deportable. The District Attorney’s Office agreed with our argument and assented to our motion to vacate the problematic portion of his plea and moved to dismiss that charge. Our client is no longer deportable and is now eligible to apply for citizenship.

Commonwealth v. Sylvain (II), 473 Mass. 832 (2016)

The Supreme Judicial Court upheld the trial court’s allowance of our motion to vacate our client’s plea where his attorney failed to adequately inform him of the immigration consequences that would result from his conviction. The SJC rejected the Commonwealth’s contention on appeal that a trial court may not rely on affidavits in allowing such a motion and affirmed the trial judge’s findings that the evidence we presented at the evidentiary hearing was sufficient to meet our burden.

 

Motion for New Trial

Our client was found guilty after trial of several counts of rape of a child. A review of the trial transcripts and discovery revealed that his attorney provided ineffective assistance of counsel by failing to hire an expert, failing to conduct any investigation, and failing to properly advise his client regarding his right to testify in his defense. Following an evidentiary hearing a superior court judge allowed our motion for new trial and our client's convictions were vacated.

 

Parole Revocation Hearing

Our client had just been released on parole when the parole board issued a notice of its intention to revoke his supervised release and return him to prison to serve out the remainder of his sentence. At the revocation hearing we presented substantial evidence based on our investigation challenging the parole board’s evidence and convinced them not to revoke his parole.

Sex Offender Registry Board Reclassification

Our client had been faithfully registering as a Level 3 sex offender for many years when he decided he wished to petition the Board to reduce his classification level. Following a reclassification hearing where we introduced evidence from a forensic psychologist that our client’s risk to reoffend had been substantially reduced since his initial classification hearing, the hearing examiner reduced our client’s classification from a Level 3 to a Level 2.

Commonwealth v. Cole, 468 Mass. 294 (2014)
The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found the statutory scheme of Community Parole Supervision for Life unconstitutional, and our client and hundreds of others were immediately released from this oppressive and ineffective form of punishment. Laura represented the defendant in this case along with Beth Eisenberg from the Committee for Public Counsel Services.

 

Commonwealth v. Hart, 467 Mass. 322 (2014)

The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the denial of our client’s motion to vacate his plea to resisting arrest when there was an inadequate factual basis presented during his plea colloquy that he committed the offense charged. This case clarified that in addition to determining that a defendant’s plea be made voluntarily and intelligently, a trial court judge has an independent duty to determine that a sufficient factual basis for the charge exists before accepting a defendant’s guilty plea.

Motion to Vacate Plea
Our client, a legal permanent resident who had lived in this country for 17 years with his family, pleaded guilty to a minor drug offense that had consequences he couldn’t have imagined. Despite his attorney’s assurances that the conviction would not result in his deportation, he had been ordered deported solely on the basis of this one conviction. Following an evidentiary hearing where we presented evidence that but for his attorney’s erroneous advice he never would have pleaded guilty, the judge agreed with us and vacated his conviction. Our client is now back home with his family and has gone back to school.

Sex Offender Registry Board Classification Hearing
Following a hearing where we presented substantial evidence, including testimony from a forensic psychologist, that our client did not pose a high risk to recidivate or a high degree of danger to the community the hearing examiner reduced our client’s recommended classification level from a 3 to a 2.

Charge Dismissed Prior to Arraignment
When our client was charged with minor criminal motor vehicle offenses we were able to get the charges dismissed prior to arraignment, which means that the charges will never show up on our client’s record.

Sex Offender Registry Board Classification Hearing

SORB informed our client of its intent to classify him as a Level 3 offender. Following a bifurcated classification hearing where we presented expert testimony that our client did not pose a high risk to reoffend or degree of dangerousness, the hearing examiner classified our client as a Level 2 offender.

 

Commonwealth v. Sylvain, 466 Mass. 422 (2013)
In this landmark decision – the first of its kind in the country – the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court parted ways with the United States Supreme Court and held that non-citizen defendants in Massachusetts were entitled to the effective assistance of their criminal attorneys in providing them with advice concerning the immigration consequences of their criminal convictions prior to the date of the Supreme Court’s decision in Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010). In February of 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Chaidez v. United States, 133 S.Ct. 1103 (2013), held that their decision would not be retroactive to cases decided before its decision in Padilla. The SJC’s decision in Sylvain holding Padilla retroactive in Massachusetts will help a countless number of non-citizens get a second chance of remaining in the country if their attorneys had given them bad advice that affected their decision to plead guilty. Laura represented the defendant in this case along with co-counsel Wendy Wayne of the Committee for Public Counsel Services’ Immigration Impact Unit, with help from attorneys Jen Klein and Emma Winger.

Remand for new Sex Offender Registry Board Hearing
A superior court judge agreed with us that our client had been prejudiced when SORB held his classification hearing more than four years prior to his earliest possible release date. The case was remanded for a new classification hearing so that we could go back in and present evidence of the significant progress our client had made during the last four years.

Motion for Sex Offender Registry Board Classification Hearing
When our client mistakenly waived his right to a classification hearing, the Board granted our request to provide him with a new hearing so that he could present evidence of why his risk of recidivism and degree of dangerousness had drastically reduced over time.

Motion to Vacate Plea
Several years ago our client had pleaded guilty to a crime in district court and was placed on probation. Upon review of the police reports and a transcript of the plea colloquy it became evident that our client had not, in fact, committed the crime he was charged with. We filed a motion to vacate his plea which was allowed by the judge, who agreed that justice was not done when our client unknowingly pleaded guilty to conduct that was not criminal, and the District Attorney’s office dismissed the charge.

Motions to Correct Sentence (2011-2014)
Before it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Judicial Court, Community Parole Supervision for Life (“CPSL”) was one of the harshest sentences anyone could receive. It essentially put a defendant on probation for the rest of his life, during which time some of the conditions included not being able to use the internet, total abstinence from alcohol, not being able to go to the movies without permission from a parole officer, and a mandatory curfew of 10 pm to 6 am. If a violation of any of these conditions was found, the defendant was sent to prison without ever returning in front of a judge, with no assistance from an attorney. Laura helped more than 10 clients vacate this portion of their sentence before the SJC ultimately ended the practice of CPSL for everyone in 2014 in the case of Commonwealth v. Cole, 468 Mass. 294 (2014), where Laura and Beth Eisenberg represented the defendant in a case that helped hundreds of other defendants.

Motion for New Trial
Our client had been convicted of a fourth offense for operating under the influence and was sentenced to two years in prison when we took over his case on appeal. A review of the trial transcripts and record revealed that the client had a viable motion to suppress his statements that his trial attorney never pursued. We filed a motion for new trial, and the district court allowed the motion and vacated the conviction. Our client was able to return home to his wife and children a year before his sentence was supposed to end.

Motion to Vacate Plea
Our client, a long-term legal permanent resident, was ordered deported in Immigration Court based on his conviction for larceny from a person. The way his sentence was originally structured during his plea agreement, he was ineligible for any kind of relief in Immigration Court. We filed a motion to vacate his plea based on the fact that his trial attorney had failed to try to structure a plea disposition that would avoid mandatory deportation. The court allowed our motion and our client’s deportation order has been vacated and he is back at home with his family.

 

 

*This is a sample of a select few of the firm’s past cases, and they are provided solely for the purposes of illustrating some of the types of matters we handle and some of the results we have obtained for our clients. The firm can never guarantee any specific results in any client’s case.

**Case names are provided only for published opinions of the Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court to protect the identity of the firm’s clients.