Commonwealth v. McCalopAnnotate this Case
The Supreme Judicial Court vacated Defendant's guilty plea to a sentencing enhancement and his conviction of unlawful possession of a loaded firearm, holding that where a defendant makes a good faith claim that a deliberating juror reported that racial bias infected the jury's deliberations, a judge may not condition acceptance of a guilty plea to a sentencing enhancement upon a waiver of that claim.
Immediately after entry of the guilty verdict in this case, a deliberating juror reported that racial bias influenced the jury's deliberations. Defendant filed a motion to investigate the juror's claims prior to the jury-waived trial on two sentencing enhancements. The prosecutor agreed to nol pros one sentencing enhancement in return for Defendant's guilty plea to the other sentencing enhancement if Defendant withdrew the motion. Defendant withdrew the motion and pleaded guilty to one of the sentencing enhancements. Defendant later moved, unsuccessfully, for a new trial, seeking to vacate his guilty plea to the sentencing enhancement. The Supreme Court ordered a new trial as to the sentencing enhancements, holding that once a defendant's right to a jury trial is invoked a defendant may not waive his right to a verdict that is untainted by racial or ethnic bias.