Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Commonwealth v. Curran

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Worcester

January 12, 2018

COMMONWEALTH
v.
EDWARD CURRAN.

          Heard: September 6, 2017.

         Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on December 3, 2015. A pretrial motion to admit expert testimony with regard to criminal responsibility was heard by Richard T. Tucker, J.

         An application for leave to prosecute an interlocutory appeal was allowed by Judd J. Carhart, J., in the Appeals Court. The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.

          Marcia T. Kovner for the defendant.

          Ellyn H. Lazar-Moore, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

          Present: Gants, C.J., Lenk, Gaziano, Budd, Cypher, & Kafker, JJ.

          GAZIANO, J.

         General Laws c. 123A, § 15, allows incompetent persons who are unable to stand trial for qualifying sex offenses to be deemed sexually dangerous based on the commission of those offenses. In 2008, we held that this proceeding did not violate due process or equal protection because of the rights the Legislature explicitly included in the statute to "protect an incompetent defendant's ability to defend himself against the allegations of crime and, thus, minimize the likelihood of a mistake." Commonwealth v. Burgess, 450 Mass. 366, 375 (2008). Those protections encompass "all rights available to criminal defendants at criminal trials, other than the right not to be tried while incompetent, " G. L. c. 123A, § 15, including the retention of experts, the right to present evidence in defense of the charges, and "the right to a determination of the commission of the criminal acts made beyond a reasonable doubt." Burgess, supra.

         Here, the defendant sought to introduce at a hearing on the Commonwealth's G. L. c. 123A, § 15, petition expert testimony that he was not criminally responsible. Interpreting the statutory language "whether the person did commit the act or acts charged" to mean that he should determine only whether the acts were committed, not whether the defendant was guilty of the acts, the judge denied the motion and allowed the Commonwealth's motion to preclude the testimony. We conclude that the right of an incompetent defendant to raise defenses in a proceeding pursuant to G. L. c. 123A, § 15, includes that of a lack of criminal responsibility. Therefore, the denial of the motion to admit expert testimony, and the allowance of the Commonwealth's motion to preclude that testimony, must be reversed.

         1. Facts.

         The following facts are uncontested for the purposes of this interlocutory appeal. While in a residential treatment program for mental illness, the defendant approached a female nurse who was attempting to administer medication; said, "Look what I have for you"; and grabbed his genitals over his clothing. He then used his body to push her against the counter, placed his leg between her legs, and reached his hand under her shirt and touched her breasts. The nurse called for help, and the defendant backed away as other staff members came to assist her.

         The defendant was charged with indecent assault and battery on a person age fourteen or older, G. L. c. 265, § 13H, a qualifying sex offense under G. L. c. 123A, § 1. He was found incompetent to stand trial; pursuant to G. L. c. 123, §§ 15 and 16 (f), the charge was dismissed and the defendant was committed to Bridgewater State Hospital. The Commonwealth then filed a petition under G. L. c. 123A, § 12, to have the defendant committed as a sexually dangerous person. A Superior Court judge ordered another competency hearing and found that the defendant still was not competent, so the process moved forward under G. L. c. 123A, § 15.

         A second Superior Court judge concluded that there was probable cause to believe that the defendant was a sexually dangerous person. At a hearing pursuant to G. L. c. 123A, § 15, before that judge, the defendant sought to present expert evidence regarding criminal responsibility; the Commonwealth filed a motion to preclude such evidence. The judge ruled that expert testimony concerning a lack of criminal responsibility is not admissible in a hearing on a petition pursuant to G. L. c. 123A, § 15, because it is not relevant to a factual determination whether the acts indeed had been committed. The defendant filed an application ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.