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Charbonneau v. Presiding Justice of the Holyoke Division of the District Court Department (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-009-16)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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-11908   JOSHUA CHARBONNEAU  vs.  PRESIDING JUSTICE OF THE HOLYOKE DIVISION OF THE DISTRICT COURT DEPARTMENT.       Suffolk.     October 8, 2015. – January 22, 2016.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.     Supreme Judicial Court, Superintendence of inferior courts.  District Court.  Practice, Criminal, Plea.  Statute, Construction.       Civil action commenced in the Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk on May 13, 2015.   The case was reported by Botsford, J.     Paul R. Rudof, Committee for Public Counsel Services (Ryan M. Schiff, Committee for Public Counsel Services, with him) for the plaintiff. Susanne G. Reardon, Assistant Attorney General, for the defendant. William C. Newman, Chauncey B. Wood, & Joseph N. Schneiderman, for American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts & another, amici curiae, submitted a brief.   HINES, J.  In this appeal, we determine whether a standing  order of the Holyoke Division of the District Court Department (Holyoke District Court), prohibiting the tender of a so-called “defendant-capped” plea on the day of trial, contravenes the guilty plea procedure mandated in G. L. c. 278, § 18, and Mass. R. Crim. P. 12, as appearing in 442 Mass. 1511 (2004).  Joshua Charbonneau, who stands charged in the Holyoke District Court with larceny over $ 250, challenges the standing order on statutory and constitutional grounds.  He contends that the standing order violates his right to tender a defendant-capped plea at any time prior to trial because neither G. L. c. 278, § 18, nor Mass. R. Crim. P. 12 imposes a time limit on such tenders.  He also asserts that the judicially imposed time limit unconstitutionally burdens his right to due process.  We conclude that the standing order conflicts with and impairs a  defendant’s right to tender a defendant-capped plea as provided in G. L. c. 278, § 18, and Mass. R. Crim. P. 12.  Consequently, we vacate the standing order on that ground and bypass Charbonneau’s constitutional claim.[1] 1.  Background.  On February 19, 2015, the presiding justice of the Holyoke District Court[2] (presiding justice) promulgated a standing order applicable to trials beginning with the June, 2015, jury-of-six session.  In accordance with the standing order, a defendant who intended to proffer a defendant-capped plea was required to do so at the final pretrial status conference which, in the Holyoke District Court, is scheduled for the Wednesday two weeks prior to […]


Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - January 22, 2016 at 6:02 pm

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