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Commonwealth v. Ruffin (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-118-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030;   SJC-12079   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  WAYNE L. RUFFIN.     August 9, 2016.     Controlled Substances.  Practice, Criminal, Plea, New trial, Conduct of government agents, Presumptions and burden of proof.  Evidence, Guilty plea, Certificate of drug analysis, Presumptions and burden of proof.       On July 26, 2007, the defendant, Wayne L. Ruffin, pleaded guilty to two counts of distribution of cocaine, in violation of G. L. c. 94C, §§ 32A and 32E.  Two other counts, alleging drug violations near a school zone or park, in violation of G. L. c. 94C, § 32J, were dismissed.  Thereafter, on October 3, 2007, the substances were tested at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute, and Annie Dookhan was one of the two “assistant analysts” who signed the certificates of drug analysis (drug certificates).  Years later, after Dookhan’s misconduct had been discovered, see generally Commonwealth v. Scott, 467 Mass. 336 (2014), the defendant unsuccessfully moved for a new trial, seeking to vacate his guilty pleas on the ground of Dookhan’s misconduct.  The defendant appeals from the denial of that motion, as well as his renewed motion for a new trial.  We affirm.   Consistent with due process considerations, a guilty plea may be accepted only when it is “intelligently and voluntarily made.”  Scott, 467 Mass. at 345, quoting Commonwealth v. Furr, 454 Mass. 101, 106 (2009).  A plea may be defective, for example, where it has been “involuntarily induced by government misconduct that since has been discovered.”  Scott, supra at 345-346.  In this case, the defendant contends that his pleas were not “knowing and voluntary” because he was unaware at that time of the pleas of Dookhan’s misconduct or that she would eventually test the alleged controlled substances in his cases.  The motion judge properly rejected the argument.  Where governmental misconduct is alleged in circumstances such as these, we have applied the two prong-analysis of Ferrara v. United States, 456 F.3d 278, 290 (1st Cir. 2006).  See Scott, supra at 346.  The first prong has three parts.  “[T]the defendant first must show that egregious government misconduct preceded the entry of his guilty plea and that it is the sort of conduct that implicates the defendant’s due process rights” (emphasis added).  Id. at 347.  Under the second part, the defendant must establish that the “egregious misconduct was undertaken ‘by government agents’ prior to the entry […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - August 9, 2016 at 11:00 pm

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