Supreme Judicial Court declines to hear case, forcing 13-year-old boy to pay restitution for graffiti
EASTHAMPTON — The state’s Supreme Judicial Court declined to hear a Hampshire County case last week, indicating a local judge’s decision to order a boy to pay for property damage he caused in Easthampton was proper.
Attorney Craig R. Bartolomei of Hadley, who filed the SJC appeal after the state Appeals Court also upheld the local judge’s ruling, said the boy, now 13, will have to go to work to pay off the $1,000 in restitution.
“There’s nothing else we can do now, but I still disagree with the decisions,” he said.
The case began in 2010 when the boy, who was 10 at that time, submitted to facts sufficient to be found delinquent in Franklin-Hampshire Juvenile Court on charges he caused about $1,300 in damage when he spray painted graffiti on a few Easthampton homes that year.
The case was continued without a finding for a year on the condition that he make restitution to the homeowners, but he was found in violation of probation at the end of the year because he had not paid any money.
At the probation violation hearing in October 2011, juvenile court Judge James G. Collins reduced the restitution to $1,000 and extended the boy’s probation until he turns 16, despite the boy’s argument that he could not pay the money back because he was unable to work legally due to his age. He was 12 years old at that time.
The boy has not been identified because he is a minor.
Bartolomei took the case to the Massachusetts Appeals Court, which upheld Collins’ decision in January. The court reasoned that the child could earn money by doing odd jobs like mowing lawns or shoveling snow.
“I think that they ignored the safety issue here, and it didn’t seem to resonate with the Supreme Judicial Court either,” Bartolomei said. “In terms of soliciting odd jobs, who sends a 12-year-old out to do that within our society now, with the list of sex offenders? Parents just don’t send their kids out to do that anymore.”
He added that the boy has paid back some of the money, but he said he is not sure if or how he earned the money.
Rebecca Everett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.