Posts tagged "1002815"

Commonwealth v. Torres (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-028-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-11771   COMMONWEALTH  vs.  RAMON TORRES.       February 23, 2015.       Controlled Substances.  Constitutional Law, Plea, Conduct of government agents.  Due Process of Law, Plea, Presumption. Practice, Criminal, Plea, Conduct of government agents, Presumptions and burden of proof.  Evidence, Guilty plea, Certificate of drug analysis, Presumptions and burden of proof.  Notary Public.       In January, 2008, the defendant, Ramon Torres, pleaded guilty to distribution of a class B substance, in violation of G. L. c. 94C, § 32A, and was sentenced to serve one year in a house of correction.  In April, 2013, in light of problems that surfaced at the William A. Hinton State Laboratory (Hinton drug lab or lab), and with Annie Dookhan in particular, he filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea and for a new trial.[1]  After a hearing, a judge in the District Court, who was also the judge who had accepted the defendant’s guilty plea, denied the motion.  The defendant appealed, and we transferred his appeal to this court on our own motion.   According to the Brockton police department arrest report, the defendant was arrested after selling an off-white rock-like substance to an undercover police officer.  Both a field test, conducted by the police, and a subsequent test at the Hinton drug lab indicated that the substance was cocaine.  The certificate of drug analysis associated with the lab testing was signed by assistant analysts Kate Corbett and Della Saunders.  Dookhan signed the certificate as a notary public.   We recently considered, in several cases, the effect of Dookhan’s misconduct on a defendant’s motion to withdraw a guilty plea on the basis of that misconduct.  See Commonwealth v. Scott, 467 Mass. 336, 337 (2014), and cases cited.  In Scott, we adopted the two-part analysis set forth in Ferrara v. United States, 456 F.3d 278, 290 (1st Cir. 2006), for cases involving alleged government misconduct leading to a guilty plea.  Scott, supra at 346.  The first prong of the Ferrara analysis requires a defendant to 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.”  Id. at 347, citing Ferrara, supra at 290, 291.  The second prong requires a defendant to demonstrate that “the misconduct influenced his decision to plead guilty or . . . […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - February 23, 2015 at 8:52 pm

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