Suffolk. Indictments found and returned in the Superior Court on August 2, 1960. A motion to vacate sentences and withdraw pleas of guilty was heard by Dwyer, J. After review by the Appeals Court the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review.
Hennessey, C.j., Quirico, Braucher, Kaplan, & Wilkins, JJ.
Constitutional Law, Assistance of counsel, Waiver of constitutional rights. Practice, Criminal, Assistance of counsel, Plea.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Quirico
The record in a criminal case supported findings by the Judge on a motion for a new trial that the defendant's pleas of guilty were not the result of coercion, that the defendant understood the consequences of his pleas, and that the defendant knew the nature of the charges against him when he pleaded. [536-539]
A claim of ineffective assistance of counsel for the defendant in a criminal case failed where the defendant made no showing that he lost any defense as a result of the alleged inadequacy of counsel. [539-540]
A defendant was not denied effective assistance of counsel at the time he pleaded guilty to several indictments by the fact that his counsel also represented two co-defendants where there was no showing that at the time the pleas were entered the interests of the defendant and the co-defendants were in conflict. [540-542]
A defendant was denied effective assistance of counsel at the time he was sentenced after pleading guilty by the fact that his counsel also represented two co-defendants who pleaded guilty where it was in the interest of the co-defendants to argue at the Disposition hearing that the defendant was the person primarily responsible for the crimes with which they were all charged. [542-543]
This is an appeal from the denial of a motion for a new trial, by which the defendant seeks to vacate the guilty pleas he entered in 1960 to thirty-four indictments for armed robbery and related crimes. The defendant contends that the pleas were made involuntarily and that he was denied his right to the effective assistance of counsel.
The findings of the Judge who heard the motion for a new trial (motion Judge) are summarized. On July 13, 1960, the defendant Francis T. Bolduc and two co-defendants were arrested. The defendant at the time was an escapee from the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Walpole where he had been serving a life sentence for murder in the second degree. After their arrest, the three men voluntarily admitted their participation in a series of armed robberies. Six episodes were involved, Bolduc having participated in all of them, one by himself, while each of the co-defendants participated in three. Indictments were returned against them on August 2, 1960. Bolduc was charged in nineteen indictments with armed robbery, in four with confining or putting in fear, in two with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, in one with breaking and entering in the nighttime, in five with possession of firearms, in one with assault with intent to murder, and in three with conspiracy. *fn1 Bolduc was arraigned on one charge on September 7, 1960, and pleaded not guilty. He was then removed from the Charles Street jail, where he had been incarcerated since his arrest, and returned to Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Walpole.
We conclude that the defendant's pleas of guilty must stand, but that the sentences imposed in consequence thereof are to be vacated and the cases remanded to the Superior Court for new sentencing.
Counsel for Bolduc was appointed on September 27, 1960. He was also appointed to represent the codefendants. During the next three weeks counsel prepared the case by interviewing the co-defendants several times, and by obtaining as much information as possible from the police. He did not talk with Bolduc during this period.
A hearing was held before a Judge of the Superior Court on October 18, 1960. The indictments were not read to the three defendants, nor does it appear that their reading was waived. Each of the two co-defendants pleaded guilty to all charges. Bolduc pleaded not guilty. A recess was then requested by counsel. He gave as a reason that "e doesn't even know what . . . [the indictments] are."
Bolduc, his codefendants, and counsel were removed from the court room to a detention cell. Several of the indictments were mentioned to the defendant by counsel. The bulk of the Discussion, however, appears to have been concerned with the wisdom of Bolduc's not guilty pleas. Counsel stressed to Bolduc that his pleas of not guilty would not benefit him, since he was already serving a life sentence, but that it might reduce the possibility that his co-defendants would receive favorable sentences. Bolduc conferred with the co-defendants and concluded that, if it would help them, he would plead guilty. The entire conference lasted approximately ...