The Appeals Court affirmed the denial of the defendant’s motion to dismiss indictments charging drug offenses, in Commonwealth v. Polanco. In its decision, the Appeals Court ruled that the time that elapsed while the charges were pending in District Court should not be included in the speedy trial calculation under Mass.R.Crim.P. 36(b).
The background was as follows. In the course of a drug investigation in May, 2013, the police arrested the defendant. “On May 8, 2013, the Lowell District Court issued a complaint charging the defendant with several drug-related offenses and arraigned him [the] same day. After two months, a District Court judge dismissed the charges for failure to prosecute. Over one year later, on August 7, 2014, a Middlesex grand jury returned indictments arising from the same incident, charging the defendant with [the same offenses as those charged in the District Court complaint]. The defendant was arraigned in Superior Court on August 13, 2014. On October 30, 2014, the defendant moved to dismiss the charges, alleging a violation of rule 36(b).” The motion was “denied, the defendant was ultimately convicted of both charges by a jury,” and the defendant appealed.
In its decision, the Appeals Court stated, “Under rule 36(b)(1)(C), a defendant is entitled to dismissal if he is not brought to trial ‘within twelve months after the return day in the court in which the case is awaiting trial.’” “Because the case was awaiting trial in the Superior Court when the defendant moved to dismiss, the return date must be calculated from his August 13, 2014, arraignment in that court [not from the date of the defendant’s arraignment on the criminal complaint in District Court]. The Reporter’s Notes to Rule 36(b)(1) … are consistent with this conclusion, stating that, ‘if … the Commonwealth elects to proceed by direct indictment in a case commenced by complaint which is within the District Court’s jurisdiction[,] … the time limits of this rule begin anew upon the return day in the Superior Court.’” Continue reading →