Commonwealth v. FrancisAnnotate this Case
An order granting the specific performance of a plea agreement constituted error.
Pursuant to a plea agreement reached in 1994, Defendant pleaded guilty to murder in the second degree in exchange for the opportunity to immediately seek parole. Defense counsel represented that the Commonwealth promised Defendant that he would not have to be in custody for the parole board to conduct a parole hearing, but several attempts at holding a parole hearing were unsuccessful. Defendant was eventually allowed to withdraw his guilty plea. Defendant was then retried on the original indictment and convicted of murder in the first degree. In 2013, Defendant filed a motion for a new trial. Although the judge found Defendant’s arguments were without merit, the judge ordered specific performance of the 1994 plea agreement and allowed Defendant to plead guilty to murder in the second degree. The Supreme Judicial Court reversed the grant of Defendant’s motion for a new trial, holding that the judge in 2013 abused her direction in deciding to enforce the 1994 plea agreement because the prosecutor did not make an enforceable promise to Defendant that he need not be in custody for the parole hearing.