477 Mass. 1012

May 25, 2017

Supreme Judicial Court, Superintendence of inferior courts. Moot Question.

The petitioner, R.C., appealed from a judgment of the county court denying his petition for relief under G. L. c. 211, § 3. R.C. has been indicted for possessing and distributing child pornography. In his petition, he sought relief from an order of a Superior Court judge authorizing computers and digital storage devices (digital material) seized from his home to be searched for child pornography. R.C., who is an attorney, argued that the digital material may contain privileged data provided to him by his clients and that the Superior Court judge's order did not adequately protect any such privileged data because it does not conform to the protocol set forth in Preventive Med. Assocs. v. Commonwealth, 465 Mass. 810 (2013). After the single justice denied relief, R.C. moved to stay the Superior Court order pending this appeal. We denied that motion, thereby allowing the search to proceed. The Commonwealth has moved to dismiss this appeal as moot. It represents that the search has taken place pursuant to the protocol set forth in the Superior Court order, that files allegedly containing child pornography were transmitted to R.C.'s counsel, and that R.C. does not claim that any of those files are protected by the attorney-client privilege. R.C. has not disputed these representations or filed any response to the motion within the time set forth in Mass. R. A. P. 15 (a), 365 Mass. 859 (1974). R.C.'s challenge to the Superior Court order has become moot, as that order has been fully carried out. See Lenardis v. Commonwealth, 452 Mass. 1001 , 1001 (2008). No effective relief can be provided. Moreover, we see no reason to believe that the issue is capable of repetition, yet evading review, and R.C. has offered none.

Appeal dismissed.

The case was submitted on the papers filed, accompanied by a memorandum of law.

Andrew W. Piltser Cowan for the petitioner.

Varsha Kukafka & Anne S. Yas, Assistant District Attorneys, for the Commonwealth.


477 Mass. 1012

May 26, 2017

Amended June 23, 2017.

Supreme Judicial Court, Superintendence of inferior courts.

The petitioner, Bharanidharan Padmanabhan, appeals from a judgment of a single justice of this court denying his petition pursuant to G. L. c. 211, § 3. We affirm.

In 2013, the respondent, Kimberley Yout, commenced a product liability action in the Superior Court against Biogen Inc. and Elan Pharmaceuticals, LLC, related to a medication used to treat multiple sclerosis. She subsequently amended her complaint to include Padmanabhan, a medical doctor, and his

Page 1013

company, Scleroplex, Inc., claiming medical malpractice stemming from Padmanabhan's treatment of her multiple sclerosis with that medication. Padmanabhan moved to dismiss the claims against both him and, purportedly, Scleroplex, on several bases: that venue was improper, that service was improper and ineffective, and that the claims were barred by the applicable statute of limitations. [Note 1] The motion was denied. Padmanabhan then filed his G. L. c. 211, § 3, petition, which the single justice denied without a hearing.

There is no reason why review of the denial of Padmanabhan’s motion to dismiss cannot adqequately be obtained on appeal from any final adverse judgment in the trial court, and Padmanabhan has made no argument to the contrary. This court's extraordinary power of general superintendence under G. L. c. 211, § 3, is not a shortcut for the normal process of trial and appeal. See Foley v. Lowell Div. of the Dist. Court Dep't, 398 Mass. 800 , 802 (1986) ("Where a petitioner can raise his claim in the normal course of trial and appeal, relief will be denied"). All of the claims Padmanabhan raised in his petition in this case are remediable in the normal course. The single justice therefore did not err or abuse his discretion in denying the petition.

Judgment affirmed.

The case was submitted on the papers filed, accompanied by a memorandum of law.

Bharanidharan Padmanabhan, pro se.

Kimberly A. Dougherty for the respondent.


[Note 1] As the trial court judge properly noted, although Padmanabhan, who is not a lawyer, is free to represent himself, he may not represent another person or entity, including Scleroplex. See Varney Enters., Inc. v. WMF, Inc., 402 Mass. 79 , 79 (1988) ("[A] corporation may not be represented in judicial proceedings by a corporate officer who is not an attorney licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth").