Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Berkshire
Heard: November 7, 2017.
received and sworn to in the Berkshire County Division of the
Juvenile Court Department on June 2, 2016. A motion to
dismiss was heard by Judith A. Locke, J.
Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the
case from the Appeals Court.
G. Christensen, Assistant District Attorney (Joseph A.
Pieropan, Assistant District Attorney, also present) for the
Chrismer Edmonds for the juvenile.
following submitted briefs for amici curiae: Miriam H.
Ruttenberg, Jennifer Honig, & Phillip Kassel for Mental
Health Legal Advisors Committee & others.
M. Schiff, Committee for Public Counsel Services, _&
Joseph N. Schneiderman for Youth Advocacy Division of the
Committee for Public Counsel Services.
F. Conley, District Attorney for the Suffolk District, &
John P. Zanini, Assistant District Attorney, for District
Attorney for the Suffolk District.
Present: Gants, C.J., Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, Cypher, &
case presents two important issues relevant to a Juvenile
Court judge's consideration of a prearraignment motion to
dismiss a delinquency complaint. First, we hold that a judge,
in weighing whether the information contained within the
"four corners" of the complaint application and
related exhibits constitutes probable cause, may not consider
whether a juvenile was criminally responsible for the charged
offenses or whether the juvenile's mental impairment
rendered the juvenile incapable of having the requisite
criminal intent. Second, we hold that, where a prosecutor
exercises his or her discretion to proceed to arraignment on
a delinquency complaint supported by probable cause, the
judge may not dismiss the complaint before arraignment on the
grounds that dismissal of the complaint is in the best
interests of the child and in the interests of justice.
Because the judge in this case dismissed the delinquency
complaint before arraignment where the complaint was
supported by probable cause and where the prosecutor wished
to proceed to arraignment, we vacate the dismissal and remand
the case to the Juvenile Court.
25, 2016, a police officer applied for and obtained a
delinquency complaint from a clerk-magistrate, charging the
juvenile with breaking and entering into a building in the
nighttime with the intent to commit a felony, in violation of
G. L. c. 266, § 16; breaking and entering into a vehicle
in the nighttime with the intent to commit a felony, in
violation of G. L. c. 266, § 16; larceny over $250, in
violation of G. L. c. 266, § 30 (1); and disorderly
conduct, in violation of G. L. c. 272, § 53. The
Commonwealth moved for arraignment and the juvenile moved
prearraignment to dismiss the delinquency complaint. The
Juvenile Court judge, based on the documents that were
submitted as part of the police officer's complaint
application, allowed the juvenile's motion to dismiss and
later issued written findings of fact and conclusions of law.
summarize the judge's material findings. On May 19, 2016,
at approximately 1:35 A.M., police officers were dispatched
to a multiunit apartment complex in North Adams in response
to a report that a young boy wearing an orange shirt and
shorts was making noise and carrying a gun. When the officers
arrived on the scene, they found two long rifles on the
ground near one of the apartments. The officers later
recovered a revolver in the area.
Ivan Cardeno spoke to the person who had reported the
incident, who told him that she had observed a young male,
approximately ten to twelve years old, enter two vehicles in
the parking lot while carrying a long rifle. She noted that
she saw the boy holding the rifle up and repeatedly pulling
the trigger, without aiming it.
thereafter, Officer Cardeno was informed that the boy had
been located. As Officer Cardeno approached the boy, who was
wearing an orange T-shirt and shorts and whom he recognized
as the juvenile, he heard the boy loudly cursing at the
officers and attempting to pull away from them. The juvenile
continued this behavior as the ...