Commonwealth v. Richardson

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtDOLAN
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH v. RICHARDSON. SAME v. STANTON.
Decision Date26 April 1943

313 Mass. 632
48 N.E.2d 678

COMMONWEALTH
v.
RICHARDSON.

SAME
v.
STANTON.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Essex.

April 26, 1943.


Exceptions from Superior Court, Essex County; Hurley, Judge.

Noah S. Richardson and Fred E. Stanton were convicted of knowingly, without right, entering upon the dwelling house of another, after having been directly forbidden to do so by owner, in violation of statute, and the defendants bring exceptions.

Exceptions sustained, judgments reversed, and judgment for defendant in each case.

[48 N.E.2d 679]

Before FIELD, C. J., and LUMMUS, DOLAN, and COX, JJ.

[48 N.E.2d 680]

J. J. Ryan, Jr., Asst. Dist. Atty., of Boston, for plaintiff.


A. A. Albert, of Boston, for defendants.

DOLAN, Justice.

The defendants were found guilty in the District Court under identical complaints of violation of a certain provision of G.L.(Ter.Ed.) c. 266 § 120. Upon appeal to the Superior Court the cases were heard together by a judge sitting without a jury, the defendants having waived trial by jury. Each of the defendants was found guilty, and a fine of $20 was imposed in each case. The fine was paid by the defendant Stanton, and the defendant Richardson was committed for failure to pay the fine imposed upon him. The cases now come before us on the exceptions by the defendant in each case to the denial by the judge of requests for rulings as follows: ‘1. That upon all the law governing this case the court must find the defendant not guilty. 2. That upon all the facts in this case the evidence is insufficient to warrant a finding of guilty. * * * 8. If the court should find that the defendant was a licensee or invitee on the premises on which he is accused of trespassing, then the court must find as a matter of law that the owner of an apartment or tenement house who did not reside on the premises had no authority to revoke such license or invitation whether the same was implied or express, and therefore, the defendant is not guilty. 9. That the statute, General Laws, Chapter 266, sec. 120, does not apply to the facts in this case, and therefore, the defendant is not guilty. 10. That the statute as construed and applied in this case operates so as to deprive the defendant of his freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of worship according to the dictates of his conscience, contrary to and in violation of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.’ The fifth request of each defendant, that ‘upon all the evidence the defendant had an implied license to enter upon the premises here concerned,’ was granted. The sixth request of each defendant, as follows, ‘Upon all the evidence and the law the court is warranted in finding that the defendant was a person clothed with a right as a licensee or invitee to enter or remain in or upon the premises, and therefore, the defendant is not guilty,’ was allowed by the judge except as to the last clause, ‘and therefore, the defendant is not guilty.’ The judge was not required to pass upon the other requests of the defendants for findings of particular facts, and the motion of each, that the judge ‘direct a finding’ for him, was properly denied by the judge. The rights of each of the defendants were properly saved by his requests for rulings, to the denial of which he excepted. Ashapa v. Reed, 280 Mass. 514, 182 N.E. 859.

General Laws (Ter.Ed.) c. 266, § 120, provides as follows: ‘Whoever, without right, enters or remains in or upon the dwelling house, buildings, boats or improved or enclosed land, wharf or pier of another, after having been forbidden so to do by the person who has the lawful control of said premises, either directly or by notice posted thereon, shall be punished by a fine of not more than twenty dollars. A person who is found committing such trespass may be arrested by a sheriff, deputy sheriff, constable or police officer and kept in custody in a convenient place, not more than twenty-four hours, Sunday excepted, until a complaint can be made against him for the offence, and he be taken upon a warrant issued upon such complaint.’ The complaints in the present cases, however, merely charge that the defendant ‘on the 13th day of July in the year of our Lord 1942 at Lynn aforesaid, and within the judicial district of said Court, knowingly, without right, did enter upon the dwelling house of John Assies, after having been directly rectly forbidden so to do by John Assies, he having the legal control of said premises.’

There was evidence that the title to the building in question, which contained twenty-five apartments, stood in the name of one John Aysies and his wife at the time of the alleged trespasses by the defendants. Counsel for the Commonwealth and for the defendants agreed that no objection would be raised as to the form of the complaints ‘particularly with reference to whether or not the building * * * [in question] was the dwelling or building of John Aysies.’ Aysies testified, however, that he did not live in the building. On July 13, 1942, the defendants, who were ordained ministers ‘of Jehovah God, and as such * * * Jehovah's Witnesses commissioned to preach the Gospel,’ in furtherance of this work entered the vestibule of the building in question through an

[48 N.E.2d 681]

outer door which was open. The vestibule was a ‘small room having an inside door leading into the corridors where the various apartments were located * * * [and] in the vestibule there was located a series of bells, one bell for each apartment.’ Aysies came from the street and met the defendants in the vestibule. He told them that he was the owner of the building and said: ‘You're one of Jehovah's Witnesses. See that flag. Get to hell out of here.’ The defendants refused to leave, stating that they were ministers and had important work to do and were going to call on the tenants. Richardson testified that when they entered the building they ‘were calling from apartment to apartment for the purpose of bringing comfort, and showing the people of good will * * * the only means of salvation from this present world distress, and pointing out that the Theocracy is the means whereby men will receive complete deliverance and salvation from this present conflict.’ The defendants ‘had with them various books and pamphlets and a victrola with records on the Bible.’ Richardson, after refusing to leave the vestibule, rang the bell to suite No. 1. There was no response. He then rang the bell to suite No. 2. Someone in that suite released the lock on the inner door of the vestibule and the defendants and Aysies walked in. The ‘woman in suite No. 2’ told them that the lady of the house was ill and could not be disturbed. The defendants and Aysies went back to the vestibule and Richardson pressed the bells to suites three to seven inclusive ‘without answer.’...

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37 practice notes
  • Alexis v. McDonald's Restaurants of Massachusetts, Inc., No. 94-1554
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • November 7, 1994
    ...and to exclude them if, having entered, those in control see fit to command them to leave' ") (quoting Commonwealth v. Richardson, 313 Mass. 632, 48 N.E.2d 678, 682 (1943)); see also State v. Bowman, 124 Idaho 936, 866 P.2d 193, 202 (Ct.App.1993) (in case involving business invitees who pur......
  • Com. v. Hood
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • July 5, 1983
    ...them the opportunity to establish this fact. Second, they claim that their activities were protected under Commonwealth v. Richardson, 313 Mass. 632, 48 N.E.2d 678 (1943). Third, they assert that the judge erred in granting the Commonwealth's motions preventing the introduction of evidence ......
  • Bouie v. City of Columbia, No. 10
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 22, 1964
    ...all the more untenable. 8. See Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Fucello, 91 N.J.L. 476, 477, 103 A. 988 (1918); Commonwealth v. Richardson, 313 Mass. 632, 48 N.E.2d 678, 146 A.L.R. 648 (1943); Brunson v. State, 140 Ala. 201, 203, 37 So. 197, 198 (1904). 9. See Freund, 4 Vand.L.Rev., supra, at 540: 'I......
  • Commonwealth v. Magadini, SJC–11874.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • June 23, 2016
    ...statute does not require this extra element that the defendant seeks to include. The defendant's reliance on Commonwealth v. Richardson, 313 Mass. 632, 48 N.E.2d 678 (1943), is unavailing. In Richardson, the defendants, Jehovah's Witnesses, were charged with trespass based on their presence......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
37 cases
  • Alexis v. McDonald's Restaurants of Massachusetts, Inc., No. 94-1554
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (1st Circuit)
    • November 7, 1994
    ...and to exclude them if, having entered, those in control see fit to command them to leave' ") (quoting Commonwealth v. Richardson, 313 Mass. 632, 48 N.E.2d 678, 682 (1943)); see also State v. Bowman, 124 Idaho 936, 866 P.2d 193, 202 (Ct.App.1993) (in case involving business invitees who pur......
  • Com. v. Hood
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • July 5, 1983
    ...them the opportunity to establish this fact. Second, they claim that their activities were protected under Commonwealth v. Richardson, 313 Mass. 632, 48 N.E.2d 678 (1943). Third, they assert that the judge erred in granting the Commonwealth's motions preventing the introduction of evidence ......
  • Bouie v. City of Columbia, No. 10
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 22, 1964
    ...all the more untenable. 8. See Pennsylvania R. Co. v. Fucello, 91 N.J.L. 476, 477, 103 A. 988 (1918); Commonwealth v. Richardson, 313 Mass. 632, 48 N.E.2d 678, 146 A.L.R. 648 (1943); Brunson v. State, 140 Ala. 201, 203, 37 So. 197, 198 (1904). 9. See Freund, 4 Vand.L.Rev., supra, at 540: 'I......
  • Commonwealth v. Magadini, SJC–11874.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • June 23, 2016
    ...statute does not require this extra element that the defendant seeks to include. The defendant's reliance on Commonwealth v. Richardson, 313 Mass. 632, 48 N.E.2d 678 (1943), is unavailing. In Richardson, the defendants, Jehovah's Witnesses, were charged with trespass based on their presence......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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