Commonwealth v. BennefieldAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the trial judge denying Defendant's motion for a new trial, holding that a defendant's waiver of his right to a jury of six persons need not be in writing as long as the trial judge ensures, by way of colloquy, that the defendant's decision to proceed is made knowingly and voluntarily.
Defendant was convicted of cruelty to animals. During trial, one of the six jurors was excused from service. After conducting a colloquy, the judge found that Defendant knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to a jury of six persons, and the trial continued with five jurors. On appeal, Defendant argued that the trial judge erred in denying his motion for a new trial on the grounds that his waiver was invalid because it was not in writing pursuant to Mass. R. Crim. P. 19(b). The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Defendant's waiver to his right to a six-person jury was valid.