The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts heard arguments Tuesday on three major cases. Judge Nancy Gertner joins us to analyze their impact.
We first delve into the use of mandatory minimums in drug sentencing. The case centers around a 1996 state law that the lawyers for the defendant say gives judges discretion to sentence outside of mandatory minimums. However, the Middlesex County District Attorney disagrees.
The second looks at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro. The shrine sits on almost 200 acres of land and attracts thousands of visitors each year, especially during the Christmas season with its "Festival of Lights." In 2012, the Shrine received a tax bill from the town, but the case argues religious organizations should be tax exempt.
Finally, we look at gay parental rights. The once-partnered but never married lesbian couple, Karen Partanen and Julie Gallagher, had two children during their relationship. Gallagher was the birth mother for both children via artificial insemination and they share custody of the children. But now, Partanen wants to be declared a full legal parent. Mary Bonauto is representing Partanen, the same lawyer that successfully argued for same-sex marriage in Massachusetts in 2004.
Nancy Gertner, Harvard Law School professor and former Massachusetts federal judge.
- "The state’s highest court will hear arguments Tuesday in a legal dispute over whether the City of Attleboro can levy taxes against a local Catholic shrine. The Massachusetts Council of Churches, which is opposing the city’s effort to collect taxes from La Salette Shrine, said in a statement that 'the tax assessor’s attempt to categorize and then divide religious space is both not right and not possible.'"
- "The same state court that paved the way for same-sex marriage in the United States is now being asked to decide a complicated case about the parental rights of a once-partnered but unmarried gay couple"
- "Robert Johnson (not his real name) is currently serving 10 years in prison. A nonviolent, first time offender, he was sentenced for possession and distribution of cocaine. He was put there by Judge Nancy Gertner. In fact, he’s one of the hundreds of men and women Judge Gertner sentenced during her 17-year judicial career. Now, she says, it’s time to fix the system that forced her to put him there."
This segment aired on April 5, 2016.