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Commonwealth v. Grundman

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Barnstable

March 22, 2018

COMMONWEALTH
v.
MICHAEL C. GRUNDMAN.

          Heard: November 9, 2017.

          A motion to correct a clerical error in sentence, filed on September 24, 2014, was heard by Gary A. Nickerson, J., and motions for reconsideration were considered by him. After review by the Appeals Court, the Supreme Judicial Court granted leave to obtain further appellate review.

          Andrew S. Crouch for the defendant.

          Elizabeth M. Carey, Assistant District Attorney, for the Commonwealth.

          Present: Gants, C.J., Gaziano, Lowy, & Budd, JJ.

          LOWY, J.

         The defendant pleaded guilty to two indictments charging five counts of rape of a child and was sentenced to a term of incarceration and a term of probation. Despite the provisions of G. L. c. 265, § 47, mandating that defendants convicted of certain sex offenses, including rape of a child, be subject to global positioning system (GPS) monitoring as a condition of any term of probation, that condition was not announced in open court when the defendant's sentence was imposed.[1] At issue here is whether the judge erred in resentencing the defendant to include the GPS monitoring condition approximately ten months after the defendant was originally sentenced. We conclude that because the defendant here did not receive actual notice from the sentencing judge, at the time of sentencing, that GPS monitoring was included as a special condition of his probation, and because the resentencing occurred after the sixty-day period in which an illegal sentence may be corrected under Mass. R. Crim. P. 29 (a) (1), as appearing in 474 Mass. 1503 (2016), the belated imposition of GPS monitoring must be vacated. See Commonwealth v. Selavka, 469 Mass. 502, 513-514 (2014).

         Background.

         Following a plea colloquy, the defendant pleaded guilty to five counts of rape of a child, involving two victims. The defendant's sentencing hearing occurred approximately two months later, when a Superior Court judge sentenced him to a term of two years in a house of correction and a ten-year term of probation (with special conditions) to be served concurrently with his term of incarceration. In open court, the clerk announced that the defendant's sentence would be " subject to the terms and conditions of the probation department, " with certain special conditions. The clerk then announced approximately fifteen special conditions of the defendant's probation including that he register as a sex offender, complete sexual abuse perpetrator counselling, and have no contact with the victims or their families. However, the clerk did not articulate that GPS monitoring was a special condition of the defendant's probation. Similarly, neither the judge nor the parties had mentioned a GPS monitoring condition during the sentencing hearing or the plea colloquy, and it was not included in the Commonwealth's recommended sentence.

         Shortly after sentencing, the defendant signed a probation contract stating that he was required to "wear a GPS or comparable device in accordance with G. L. c. 265, § 47." The probation contract was signed by a Superior Court judge different from the judge who sentenced the defendant. That judge's signature was dated two days after the defendant's sentencing hearing. The GPS monitoring condition was also memorialized on the docket.

         Approximately ten months after the defendant's sentence was imposed, he filed a motion to remove the GPS monitoring condition from the docket, claiming it had been erroneously entered. Although the condition had not been announced at sentencing, the judge determined that he could correct this mistake because the defendant's guilty plea to the rape of a child was subject to mandatory GPS monitoring as a condition of probation under § 47. The judge then resentenced the defendant to include GPS monitoring as a special condition of probation. The defendant filed a motion for reconsideration, which the judge denied, concluding that the defendant had actual notice of the condition because he signed the probation contract contemporaneously with the sentencing hearing, in addition to the fact that GPS monitoring is statutorily mandated for the crime of rape of a child.

         The defendant again moved for reconsideration, this time supported by an affidavit from his plea counsel stating that counsel was unaware that § 47 mandated GPS monitoring in the defendant's circumstances, and that he had not discussed GPS monitoring as a probationary condition with the defendant. Additionally, counsel was not present with the defendant when he signed the probation contract, which likely occurred after the sentencing hearing, while the defendant was in custody. The judge denied this motion. The defendant appealed, and the Appeals Court affirmed the decision of the sentencing judge. See Commonwealth v. Grundman, 90 Mass.App.Ct. 403, 404 (2016). We granted the defendant's application for further appellate review.

         Discussion.

         The defendant acknowledges in his brief that because he pleaded guilty to the rape of a child, § 47 required that his probation include GPS monitoring. Nevertheless, the defendant contends that because the judge failed to announce the GPS monitoring condition, and the defendant did not have actual notice of that condition at sentencing, the judge erred in ...


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