Michelle Carter Hearing

Michelle Carter's lawyer Joe Cataldo speaks at the podium at Taunton District Court on Monday. (AP POOL/Mark Stockwell)

PLAINVILLE — The U.S. Supreme Court wants the state Attorney General’s office to respond to Michelle Carter’s petition asking the high court to review her manslaughter conviction.

The justices made their request Thursday after the AG’s office opted on Aug. 9 to waive filing a response unless the court requested one.

A spokesperson for the state Attorney General’s office said the office will now file a response. The high court set a Sept. 23 deadline, according to the court’s docket.

The Supreme Court has yet to decide whether to hear Carter’s appeal. Experts say the court accepts about 1.2 percent of certiorari petitions.

Carter, who turned 23 last week, is serving a 15-month jail term for encouraging her boyfriend, 18-year-old Conrad Roy III, through text messages and phone calls to commit suicide in July 2014. She was 17 at the time.

Carter, who was sent to jail in February after the state Supreme Judicial Court upheld her 2017 conviction, is nearing the end of her sentence. The 15 months was the committed portion of a 2 1/2-year term, with the balance suspended with probation.

Her lawyers filed the petition to the high court in July, arguing her conviction by a juvenile judge in a jury-waived trial was based on her “words alone” and violated her First Amendment right to free speech.

One of the lawyers, Joseph Cataldo of Franklin, has said Carter “did not cause Conrad Roy’s tragic death and should not be held criminally responsible for his suicide.”

In his ruling, Taunton Juvenile Judge Lawrence Moniz said Carter caused Roy’s death when she instructed him to get back in his truck as it was filling with toxic gas after he changed his mind about killing himself. Carter was at home in Plainville and Roy was in a Fairhaven parking lot.

The state SJC unanimously upheld the conviction.

Carter’s lawyers argued the state’s high court created a conflict with at least three other state supreme courts about the application of the First Amendment in such circumstances. The SJC also disregarded U.S. Supreme Court precedents regarding due process guarantees, they argued.

David Linton may be reached at 508-236-0338.

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