SJC Dismisses Claims Against Governor

June 04, 2020

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) dismissed all claims against Hemenway & Barnes’s client in the case of Foster v. Commissioner of Correction. Representing the Governor by appointment as special assistant attorney general, Ryan P. McManus argued before the full SJC that claims against the Governor regarding plaintiffs’ conditions of confinement were not viable. The Court agreed, ruling that plaintiffs “certainly do not contend that the Governor had any direct, affirmative involvement in causing the challenged prison conditions.” The Court further held: “[T]his court should tread lightly in telling any Governor when or how to exercise his or her powers. It is one thing for a court to order a Governor to cease engaging in action the court has found to be unconstitutional; it is quite another for a court affirmatively to direct a Governor how to act. For that reason, among others, this court historically has been unwilling to order a Governor to act where the relief sought, if deserved, can be provided by means of a court order against some defendant other than the Governor.”

Ryan McManus has substantial appellate experience representing clients before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fifth, Ninth and Eleventh Circuits, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and the appellate courts of numerous states