Supreme Judicial Court (November 20, 2006)

Because fundamental liberty interests are at stake, the Commonwealth's failure to file its petition for trial within the fourteen day period specified by statute warranted dismissal of the Commonwealth's petition to commit the defendant as a sexually dangerous person (SDP).

The SDP statute, (M.G.L. c. 123A) provides that the Commonwealth "shall" file its petition for trial within fourteen days of receiving the qualified examiners' reports. In this case, the Commonwealth failed to do so. The SJC reversed the Appeals Court and held that the Commonwealth failed to meet a mandatory deadline set by the statute. The filing of a petition for trial is not only mandatory by the express language of §14(a), but also plays a crucial role in setting the schedule for the remainder of the proceedings. The petition triggers the requirement that the court notify the defendant that the trial will be held within sixty days, and gives the court the authority to detain the defendant.