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Commonwealth v. Didas

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Middlesex

March 13, 2015

Commonwealth
v.
Damien Didas

Argued December 4, 2014

Indictment found and returned in the Superior Court Department on October 20, 2011.

Page 2

A pretrial motion to apply to the defendant's case amendments made to G. L. c. 94C was heard by Garry V. Inge, J.

The Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct appellate review.

Bethany Stevens, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

Arnold A. Blank, Jr., Committee for Public Counsel Services, for the defendant.

Barbara J. Dougan, for Families Against Mandatory Minimums, amicus curiae, submitted a brief.

Present: Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.

OPINION

[26 N.E.3d 733] Botsford, J.

In this case we return to St. 2012, c. 192, " An Act relative to sentencing and improving law enforcement tools" (Crime Bill). More specifically, we revisit the question whether certain provisions of the Crime Bill apply to drug crimes with which the defendant was charged before the statute's effective date, but for which the defendant was not convicted until after the effective date. See Commonwealth v. Galvin, 466 Mass. 286, 995 N.E.2d 27 (2013). See also Commonwealth v. Bradley, 466 Mass. 551, 998 N.E.2d 774 (2013).

The Crime Bill had an emergency preamble and was effective on passage, which occurred on August 2, 2012. Among other things, it made a number of changes to provisions of the Commonwealth's controlled substances law, G. L. c. 94C.[1] The Crime Bill also included a section specifying that certain provisions of the legislation were to apply retroactively to individuals who previously had been convicted of certain drug crimes with mandatory minimum sentences and were still serving those sentences. See St. 2012, c. 192, § 48 (§ 48). In Galvin, 466 Mass. at 286-287, 290-291, based on our review of the Crime Bill's language and purpose, we interpreted § 48's retroactivity provisions to mean that certain of its mandatory minimum sentence reductions should be applied retroactively to a defendant who had been charged with committing a drug offense before the Crime Bill's effective date, but who was not tried, convicted, or sentenced until after that date. Thereafter, in Bradley, 466 Mass. at 561,

Page 3

we held that the school zone radius reduction included in § 30 of the Crime Bill should be applied retroactively to an individual who committed a drug offense prior to the Crime Bill's effective date, where the adjudication of the case did not occur until later.

The defendant here has been indicted on a charge of trafficking in cocaine in violation [26 N.E.3d 734] of G. L. c. 94C, § 32E ( b ) (2), the second tier of this trafficking crime.[2] The indictment was pending on August 2, 2012, the Crime Bill's effective date, and remains pending. The Crime Bill amends § 32E ( b ) (2), along with § 32E ( b ) (1), in two ways: by striking out the previous versions of these two clauses and replacing them with new clauses that reconfigure or redefine the trafficking weights defining each, and by reducing the mandatory minimum sentence applicable to each. See St. 2012, c. 192, § 21. A judge of the Superior Court has agreed with the defendant that, following this court's decisions in Galvin and Bradley, both the amendments to § 32E ( b ) (2) effected by § 21 of the Crime Bill apply to this defendant. We conclude that, in accordance with Galvin, 466 Mass. at 290-291, ...


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