Howell v. Commonwealth

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Justia Opinion Summary

The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the single justice of the court denying Petitioner's petition pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse her discretion in denying relief.

Petitioner was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, and, at arraignment, a judge ordered that Petitioner be committed to the state hospital for a determination whether he was competent to stand trial. After he had been committed Petitioner filed this Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3 petition alleging violations of his due process rights. The single justice denied the petition without holding a hearing. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Petitioner did not demonstrate why he was entitled to review pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3.

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NOTICE: All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports. If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 5571030; SJCReportersjc.state.ma.us SJC-12775 CURTIS HOWELL vs. COMMONWEALTH. January 10, 2020. Supreme Judicial Court, Superintendence of inferior courts. Process of Law, Competency to stand trial. Due The petitioner, Curtis Howell, appeals from a judgment of a single justice of this court denying his petition pursuant to G. L. c. 211, § 3. We affirm. Howell has been charged in a complaint with assault with a dangerous weapon, in violation of G. L. c. 265, § 15B (b). At the arraignment in the District Court, a judge ordered that Howell be committed to Bridgewater State Hospital pursuant to G. L. c. 123, § 15 (a), for a determination whether he was competent to stand trial. The hospital subsequently filed a petition for civil commitment pursuant to G. L. c. 123, § 16 (b). After Howell had been committed for the initial competency determination, he filed his G. L. c. 211, § 3, petition in the county court alleging various violations of his due process rights, the details of which are not easily discernable from the record before us. He subsequently filed additional papers in the county court raising issues related not to the underlying criminal proceedings but to the competency proceedings. The single justice denied the petition without a hearing. In his appeal to this court, Howell argues that his substantive and due process rights have been violated and his right to a fair hearing (related, presumably, to the competency determination) and a fair trial (related, presumably, to the underlying criminal proceedings) have been hindered. What he has not done is demonstrate why he is entitled to review pursuant to G. L. c. 211, § 3. Indeed, he has not even addressed the issue. It is in any event clear that he is not entitled to such review where other relief is available to him. There is no reason why his claims of violations of his due process rights cannot adequately be addressed in an appeal from any adverse judgment against him in the criminal proceedings or why his claims stemming from the competency proceedings cannot adequately be addressed in an appeal from a determination in that proceeding. The single justice did not err or abuse her discretion in denying relief under G. L. c. 211, § 3. Judgment affirmed. The case was submitted on the papers filed, accompanied by a memorandum of law. Curtis Howell, pro se.
Primary Holding
The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the single justice's denial of Petitioner's petition pursuant to Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 211, 3, holding that the single justice did not err or abuse her discretion in denying relief.

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