Appeals Court (July 13, 2006)
A respondent's due process rights are not violated by a delay between the commencement of the respondent's temporary commitment and the finding of probable cause where the respondent was substantially responsible for the delay.
DYS is an "agency with jurisdiction" under c. 123A, §12(a), and the respondent's juvenile records are admissible in an SDP proceeding.
The respondent was adjudicated delinquent when he was 14 years old for committing rape. While on probation, the respondent committed additional sex offenses and was committed to DYS. The Commonwealth filed an SDP petition. Twenty-nine months after the respondent was temporarily committed, probable cause was found. Four months later, a jury found the respondent SDP.
The respondent appealed, arguing three main issues:
The respondent argued that the 29-month delay violated his due process rights, warranting dismissal of the petition. The Court found that the respondent caused most of the delay by filing repetitive motions to dismiss the petition, requests for changes of counsel, and for continuances. The Court also noted that even if there was undue delay attributable to the Commonwealth, the appropriate remedy would have been release pending the outcome of the probable cause hearing, not dismissal of the petitions. Section 12(e) of the statute does not contemplate dismissal of the petition as a remedy for delay.
2. "Agency with jurisdiction" pursuant to c. 123, §12(a)
The respondent argued that DYS' detention was unlawful and therefore DYS was not an "agency with jurisdiction" pursuant to §12(a). The Court found that DYS is an "agency with jurisdiction." Chapter 123A, §1 defines the term as "the agency with the authority to direct the release of a person presently incarcerated, confined or committed to the department of youth services." The definition refers to the actual fact of incarceration and not the lawfulness of the detention, which is a collateral issue to the SDP proceeding.
3. Juvenile records
The respondent argued that the disclosure and admissibility of the respondent's juvenile records was improper. The Court held that pursuant to c. 123A, §14 (c), juvenile records are admissible at trial. It is implicit in the statute that the district attorney will have access to the juvenile's records in order to make the threshold determination whether to file a petition, and if so, such records are also necessary to conduct the probable cause hearing. The Court also held that to the extent that c. 119, §60 (confidentiality of juvenile records) conflicts with c. 123A, the matter is resolved in favor of disclosure since c. 123A is the newer and more specific statute.