Friday, November 15, 2013

Commonwealth v. Matsos case brief

Commonwealth v. Matsos case brief summary
657 N.E.2d 467 (1995)

Defendant sought review of the judgment from the District Court (Massachusetts), which convicted him under the stalking statute, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 265, § 43 (1992).

Defendant wrote many letters to the victim that were sexually explicit and threatening and which detailed events of her life of which defendant should not have had any knowledge. Defendant was charged with stalking the victim in violation of § 43.

  • On appeal, the court affirmed defendant's conviction. 
  • The court concluded that the amount and content of the letters that defendant sent to the victim allowed the jury to conclude that defendant intended to place the victim in fear of imminent bodily injury and that the victim was afraid of defendant. 
  • After defendant's conviction, § 43 was found to be unconstitutionally vague. 
  • Because defendant did not challenge the constitutionality of § 43 at his trial, the court could only consider whether defendant's conviction under the statute as enacted, created a substantial risk of a miscarriage of justice. 
  • Regardless of the vagueness of portions of the statute, defendant's conduct was clearly prohibited harassment. 
  • The statute gave the defendant fair notice that his repeated, obsessive behavior, which interfered with the victim's personal and professional lives, was prohibited.

The court affirmed defendant's conviction under the stalking statute.

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