Supreme Judicial Court (May 27, 2010)
A written jury trial waiver is not required to enter a valid guilty plea.
The defendant pleaded guilty to multiple drug offenses and subsequently moved to vacate his convictions based on the fact that, when he entered his plea, the defendant did not sign a written jury trial waiver. The motion to vacate was denied. The defendant appealed and the Appeals Court reversed the lower court's decision concluding that the convictions were invalid because the defendant did not sign a written waiver of his right to a jury trial. The Commonwealth filed for further appellate review.
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order denying the defendant's motion to vacate his guilty plea ruling that there is no requirement that a defendant's waiver of the right to a trial be in writing before a judge can accept a guilty plea. The judge is required to conduct a colloquy in court that informs a defendant about the consequences of entering a guilty plea, including a warning that by pleading guilty, a defendant is waiving the right to trial with or without a jury. The Supreme Judicial Court held that this inquiry by the judge during the colloquy is sufficient, thus, the absence of a written jury trial waiver does not render a defendant's plea involuntary.