Heard: October 18, 2017.
found and returned in the Superior Court Department on
November 18, 2011.
for relief from unlawful restraint and for a new trial, filed
on March 24, 2016, were considered by James R. Lemire, J.
Michael J. Hickson for the defendant.
Donna-Marie Haran, Assistant District Attorney, for the
Present: Massing, Kinder, & Ditkoff, JJ.
the Legislature decreed that the town of Bellingham, which is
located within Norfolk County, "shall be considered to
be within the jurisdiction of Worcester county"
"[f]or the purpose of all civil and criminal
matters." St. 1980, c. 550, § 3. After pleading
guilty in Worcester County Superior Court to an indictment
issued by a Worcester County grand jury for an unarmed
robbery that he committed in Bellingham, the defendant, Scott
Joseph Bolton, filed a motion for relief from unlawful
restraint seeking to vacate the conviction and dismiss the
indictment on the grounds that the district attorney for the
middle district lacked authority to prosecute, and that
the Worcester County grand jury lacked jurisdiction to return
indictments with respect to, crimes alleged to have occurred
in Bellingham. The judge who had accepted the guilty plea
having denied his motion, the defendant
appeals. Concluding that the Legislature validly
transferred jurisdiction over crimes committed in Bellingham
to Worcester County, and that the defendant's indictment
and prosecution in Worcester County by the district attorney
for the middle district did not violate his constitutional
rights, we affirm.
Jurisdiction of criminal matters related to
Worcester County grand jury issued a five-count indictment
charging the defendant with unarmed robbery as a habitual
offender and four misdemeanor violations of the automobile
laws. The robbery took place in a Bellingham bank; the
defendant was the getaway driver. Accepting an agreed-upon
recommendation, a Superior Court judge sitting in Worcester
County sentenced the defendant to a term of six to eight
years with respect to the unarmed robbery charge, the
Commonwealth agreed to dismiss the habitual offender
component of the indictment, and the remaining guilty pleas
were placed on file. The defendant contends, as he did in his
motion for release from unlawful restraint, Mass.R.Crim.P.
30(a), as appearing in 435 Mass. 1501 (2001), that his guilty
plea to the armed robbery indictment should be dismissed on
the town of Bellingham is in Norfolk County, it borders
Worcester County, and in 1980 the Legislature placed it
within the jurisdiction of Worcester County for criminal and
civil matters. In "An Act Adding the Town of Bellingham
to the Jurisdiction of the Third District Court of Southern
Worcester, " the Legislature amended G. L. c. 218,
§ 1, to remove Bellingham from the jurisdiction of the
District Court of western Norfolk (sitting in Wrentham), and
to place it within the jurisdiction of the third District
Court of southern Worcester (sitting in Milford). See G. L.
c. 218, § 1, as amended by St. 1980, c. 550,
§§ 1-2. The Legislature further mandated, "For
the purpose of all civil and criminal matters related
thereto, the town of Bellingham shall be considered to be
within the jurisdiction of Worcester county."
St. 1980, c. 550, § 3 (emphasis supplied).
one year before transferring Bellingham to the jurisdiction
of Worcester County, the Legislature similarly transferred
jurisdiction over the town of Athol, in Worcester County
bordering on Franklin County. In "An Act Adding the Town
of Athol to the Jurisdiction of the District Court of Eastern
Franklin, " the Legislature amended G. L. c. 218, §
1, to move Athol from the first District Court of northern
Worcester (sitting in Gardner), to the District Court of
eastern Franklin (sitting in Orange). See G. L. c. 218,
§ 1, as amended by St. 1979, c. 343, §§ 1-2.
The Legislature further mandated that Athol be considered
within the jurisdiction of Franklin County "[f]or the
purpose of all civil and criminal matters." St. 1979, c.
343, § 3.
respect to Athol, however, the Legislature made two
additional changes that it did not repeat with respect to
Bellingham. First, "[f]or the administration of the
criminal law, " it specifically included "Franklin
county, including the town of Athol, and Hampshire county,
" within the northwestern district. G. L. c. 12, §
13, as amended by St. 1980, c. 231, § 1. Second, the
Legislature included the voters of Athol ...