Notice Inviting Comment
Proposed Amendment to Rules 12 and 29 of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure
The Supreme Judicial Court's
Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure
Invites Comments on Proposed Amendments to
Rules 12 and 29 of the
Rules of Criminal Procedure Massachusetts
The Supreme Judicial Court's Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Criminal Procedure invites comments on proposed amendments to Rules 12 and 29 of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure. In Commonwealth v. Rodriguez, 461 Mass. 256 (2012) and Commonwealth v. Dean-Ganek, 461 Mass. 305 (2012), the Court held that Mass. R. Crim. P. 12 does not provide for plea agreements that would bind a trial court judge once accepted, but asked the Standing Advisory Committee to consider whether amendments to Rule 12 are necessary or appropriate and, if so, whether Rule 29 should be amended to conform with any such amendments.
As set forth in the attached Explanation of Proposed Amendments, the proposed amendments to Rule 12 provide for plea agreements that, if accepted by the court, bind the court to impose the agreed sentence or sentence within the agreed sentencing range. The proposed amendment to Rule 29 provides that a judge may not revise or revoke a sentence resulting from a binding plea agreement without the agreement of the parties. The Committee has also considered whether Rule 12 should be amended to clarify what, if any, role a judge may play in plea negotiations. The majority has proposed amending Rule 12 to provide that a judge may participate in plea negotiations, but only if requested by both parties and only if such discussions are recorded and made part of the record. Six of the Committee's thirteen members have dissented from this recommendation, and propose that Rule 12 be amended to include an explicit prohibition on judicial participation in plea negotiations.
The Committee welcomes all comments pertaining to the issues raised by this proposal and will make recommendations to the Supreme Judicial Court after reviewing the comments submitted. Comments should be directed to Attorney
The following documents are provided: an Explanation of Proposed Amendments; the proposed amendments to Rules 12 and 29 showing the revisions and deletions to the affected sections; the text of how the affected subsections of the rules would appear with the proposed amendments; the proposed Reporter's Notes; and the Dissenting Statement.