New Eng. L. Rev. Mass. Crim. Dig.
v. 47 | 17
IV. Holdings and Reasoning
The court found that a defendant who pleads guilty to an allegedlyduplicative charge does not forgo his right to vacate that conviction.
Thecourt cited Commonwealth v. Clark,
where the SJC held that a guilty plea“‘will not preclude a court from hearing a constitutional claim that theState should not have tried the defendant at all’” and Massachusetts Ruleof Criminal Procedure 30(a), which allows a defendant to challenge aconviction achieved through a guilty plea.
The court reasoned that since aguilty plea, which is an admission of the charged facts, is a conviction, Rule30(a) allows a defendant to challenge that conviction on double jeopardygrounds.Concluding that both the common law and rules of criminal procedureallow such a challenge, the court rejected the Commonwealth’s reliance ontwo Massachusetts Court of Appeals decisions
that held a defendant couldnot raise this type of challenge where he failed to challenge the allegedlyduplicative charge in a pretrial motion to dismiss and subsequentlypleaded guilty to the charge.
The court rejected the Appeals Court’s reasoning because the cases atissue incorrectly treated the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v.Broce
as binding precedent. In Broce, the Court found that the convicteddefendants could not collaterally attack two convictions of conspiracy torig bids and suppress competition in violation of the Sherman Act asduplicative because “a defendant who pleads guilty to two counts withfacial allegations of distinct offenses concede[s] that he has committed twoseparate crimes.”
The Broce indictments had identified two separate bid-rigging agreements, and before entering a guilty plea the defendants didnot allege the existence of only one conspiracy “in a trial-type proceeding.”The Court concluded that the defendants had “relinquished” theirentitlement to attack the conviction. Based on the facts of Broce and theCourt’s reasoning, the SJC found that this “rule of relinquishment” is aprocedural bar existing in Federal common law, and as such does notgovern State procedural law.
The court also found that even if the Broce
Id. at 108.
379 Mass. 623, 625-626 (1980).
Negron, 462 Mass. at 104-105.
Commonwealth v. Buckley, 76 Mass. App. Ct. 123 (2010); Commonwealth v. Mazzantini,74 Mass. App. Ct. 915 (2009).
Negron, 462 Mass. at 105.
488 U.S. 563 (1989).
Negron, 462 Mass. at 106 (quoting Broce, 488 U.S. at 569-570) (internal quotation marksomitted).
Id. at 106 (citing Commonwealth v. LePage, 352 Mass. 403, 409 (1967) (holding thatfederal rules do not control Massachusetts procedure)).