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Commonwealth v. Smith

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Plymouth

April 9, 2015

Commonwealth
v.
Rashidi J. Smith

Argued December 4, 2014.

Indictment found and returned in the Superior Court Department on August 17, 2007.

A pretrial motion to suppress evidence was heard by Jeffrey A. Locke, J., and the case was tried before him.

After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review.

Chauncey B. Wood for the defendant.

Gail M. McKenna, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

Rebecca Rose, for Committee for Public Counsel Services & others, amici curiae, submitted a brief.

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

OPINION

[28 N.E.3d 386] Lenk, J.

The defendant appeals from his conviction of murder in the second degree in the death by shooting of fourteen year old

Page 162

Marvin Constant. At the time of his arrest for the shooting, the defendant was seventeen years and five months old. The Commonwealth's evidence at trial included, among other things, incriminating statements that the defendant made to police after waiving his Miranda rights. See Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). The defendant sought, unsuccessfully, to suppress these statements. He argues on appeal that their introduction at trial was error given our common-law rule that, ordinarily, a juvenile must be afforded a meaningful opportunity to consult with an " interested adult" before waiving his or her Miranda rights, since he did not have such an opportunity.

The interested adult rule, as we have defined it to date, applies only to those who have not yet reached the age of seventeen. Several years after the defendant was convicted, however, the Legislature enacted St. 2013, c. 84 (2013 act), which amended an array of statutory provisions to treat seventeen year olds as juveniles.

The 2013 act does not affect the current case, both because it is prospective in its application and because it does not itself modify the interested adult rule, which is a creature of our common law. We therefore affirm the defendant's conviction. Nevertheless, we take this opportunity to expand the reach ...


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