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Massachusetts District/Municipal Court Criminal Rule 4: Pretrial Hearing

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(a) Appearance of Parties. The parties shall appear as scheduled for a hearing on the results of their pretrial conference, in accordance with the terms of the order issued at arraignment under Rule 3(c). Cases in which the parties have not conferenced in accordance with the order shall be held so that said conference may be completed, and the pretrial hearing conducted, prior to the end of the court day, if possible.

(b) Discovery. Failure of either party to have provided, permitted or obtained discovery in accordance with the order issued at arraignment may subject that party to the sanctions provided in Mass. R. Crim. P. 14(c).

Where it is determined that discoverable material should have been produced but was not, the court may, in lieu of sanctions, order such discovery to be provided without further delay, including a brief continuance of the matter to allow the party responsible to secure the item at issue and bring it before the court that same day.

In the District Court, discovery that is not provided or permitted in accordance with the arraignment order and is not ordered at the pretrial hearing may be requested by motion filed at or prior to the conclusion of the pretrial hearing.

(c) Guilty Plea, Admission, or Other Disposition. At the pretrial hearing the defendant may tender to the court a plea, admission or other requested disposition conditioned on specific dispositional terms, with or without the agreement of the prosecutor. Such tender of plea, admission or other disposition shall be set forth on the form promulgated therefor by the Chief Justice of the District Court or the Chief Justice of the Boston Municipal Court, as the case may be. If the court rejects the dispositional terms agreed to by the parties, or requested by the defendant without the agreement of the prosecution, it shall so inform the defendant and the defendant shall be permitted to withdraw the plea or admission, in accordance with G.L. c. 278, s. 18. Prior to submission to the court of a tender of plea or admission or a request for other disposition, and if the proposed dispositional terms involve any probationary terms or conditions, the parties shall consult with the probation department, so as to enable the probation department to be heard as may be required by the court at the time the court considers the tendered plea or admission.

If the court rejects a tendered plea, admission or other disposition, the judge may indicate to the parties what disposition he or she would impose, as provided in Mass. R. Crim. P. 12(c) (6), and a pretrial disposition may be requested by the defendant on those terms.

(d) Pretrial Conference Report. If a pretrial disposition is not requested, or is requested but rejected by the court at the pretrial hearing, the parties shall submit a completed and signed pretrial conference report in accordance with the order issued at arraignment. Said report shall be set forth on the form promulgated therefor by the Chief Justice of the District Court or the Chief Justice of the Boston Municipal Court, as the case may be.

(e) Jury or Jury-Waived Trial. When the pretrial conference report is submitted, the court shall examine it for completeness, shall rule on any disputed discovery issues, and, unless discovery compliance is still pending, shall inquire if the defendant waives the right to jury trial.

The court shall not compel the defendant's decision on waiver of jury trial until all discovery issues have been resolved and compliance with any discovery orders has been completed. Compliance with discovery orders may require the scheduling of a "compliance/election hearing" as provided in Rule 5. However, the defendant may proceed to enter the decision on jury waiver and a trial date may be set prior to compliance with discovery orders, at the defendant's option.

A waiver of the right to jury trial shall be submitted by the defendant on the form promulgated therefor by the Supreme Judicial Court and shall be accepted only upon completion of the colloquy required by law and the certificate of counsel required by G.L. c. 218, s. 26A. The required certificate shall be submitted on the form promulgated therefor by the Chief Justice of the District Court or the Chief Justice of the Boston Municipal Court, as the case may be.

If a waiver of jury trial is accepted in a District Court in which jury trials are not available and in which only one judge regularly sits, and that judge has rejected defendant's tendered plea or admission, the defendant shall be asked if he or she waives the right to be tried by a different judge. If the right to be tried by a different judge is waived, the case shall be scheduled for jury-waived trial in that court. If the right to be tried by a different judge is not waived, the case shall be scheduled for jury waived trial in the court in which a session has been designated for that purpose under G.L. c. 218, s. 27A.

If the right to jury trial is not waived when that issue is addressed by the court, the case shall be scheduled as follows: (1) in the District Court the case shall be scheduled for jury trial on a date certain, provided, however, that in the District Court such cases may be scheduled for a trial assignment date if that procedure is authorized by the Chief Justice of the District Court, and (2) in the Boston Municipal Court the case shall be scheduled for a date certain for trial assignment.

(f) Charges outside District Court and Boston Municipal Court Final Jurisdiction. If the case involves one or more charges that are not within District Court of Boston Municipal Court final jurisdiction, as the case may be, or if the court declines final jurisdiction over the pending charges, the court shall schedule a probable cause ("bind-over") hearing in accordance with G.L. c. 218, s. 30 at the completion of the pretrial hearing.

If the prosecution reduces the charge to a crime within District Court or Boston Municipal Court final jurisdiction, but the case cannot be disposed of at the pretrial hearing in the District Court, or at the pretrial conference or pretrial hearing in the Boston Municipal Court, the court shall continue the matter for a further pretrial hearing on a date certain and shall issue such further discovery and pretrial conference orders as may be necessary.

Effective January 1, 1996.