Com. v. Harvey

Decision Date17 April 1986
Citation397 Mass. 351,491 N.E.2d 607
CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court

Daniel J. O'Connell, III, Boston (Eileen D. Vodoklys, Framingham, with him), for defendant.

Karen J. Kepler, Asst. Dist. Atty., for Com.


NOLAN, Justice.

On April 5, 1984, a Middlesex County grand jury returned two indictments charging the defendant, Robert Harvey, with larceny from the person, see G.L. c. 266, § 25(b ) (1984 ed.), and civil rights violations under G.L. c. 265, § 37 (1984 ed.). On August 20, 1984, the defendant's trial commenced before a judge and a jury in the Superior Court in Middlesex County. The defendant was found guilty on both indictments. He appealed to the Appeals Court. We transferred the case to this court on our own motion.

The defendant argues that (1) the judgments should be reversed and the indictments dismissed because he was compelled to furnish evidence against himself in violation of art. 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights; (2) the trial judge erred by admitting in evidence a videotape of the victim; and (3) the defendant was denied due process of law and his right to a trial by jury as a result of the judge's failure to suspend deliberations after the jury requested further instruction on the meaning of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. We find no error and affirm the convictions. The relevant facts are summarized as follows.

On March 21, 1984, the defendant was employed as a police officer by the city of Cambridge. On that date, he was working the midnight to 8 A.M. shift and was assigned to drive police wagon No. 419, which is a small, closed truck that is used by the Cambridge police department primarily to transport prisoners. At approximately 1:30 A.M., the defendant was dispatched to Cambridge City Hospital to pick up a man, later identified as Charles Dayton. Dayton was believed to be intoxicated and was in need of shelter for the evening.

At trial, Dayton testified that, when the police wagon arrived at the hospital, he stepped into the rear, believing that he would be transported to the Cambridge police station and placed in protective custody for the evening. See G.L. c. 111B, § 8 (1984 ed.). Dayton further testified that, instead of driving him to the station, the defendant drove to a dark area (later identified as the Brown and Ferris Industries' reclamation yards in East Cambridge [BFI] ) where he stopped the police wagon, opened the back door, and requested Dayton to step out. When Dayton complied, the defendant searched him, took approximately $60 in cash from him, and abandoned him. Dayton testified that he was unfamiliar with the area and began to walk in the direction of lights in the distance. After walking for approximately five minutes, he came upon a weighing station operated by a BFI employee. Dayton told the employee that he had just been "robbed by the guy in the wagon," and requested permission to telephone the police.

A short time later, Officers Lester J. Sullivan and J. Michael Walsh of the Cambridge police department arrived on the scene. The officers spoke with Dayton, placed him in their patrol car, and proceeded to the Cambridge police station. While en route to the station, the officers observed their supervisor, Sergeant Edward C. Hussey, Jr., who was in his patrol car at the intersection of Cambridge and Harding Streets. The officers stopped their cruiser and had a discussion with Sergeant Hussey regarding Dayton's allegations. The sergeant also spoke directly to Dayton.

After hearing Dayton's description of what had occurred, Sergeant Hussey radioed the defendant and requested him to report to the intersection of Cambridge and Harding Streets. The defendant complied and upon his arrival was asked by Sergeant Hussey whether he recognized Dayton. The defendant looked at Dayton, who was still seated in the patrol car, and responded affirmatively. The defendant then told the sergeant that he had removed Dayton from the hospital and, at Dayton's request, drove him to the corner of Gore and Fifth Streets in Cambridge. At this time, Dayton identified the defendant as the person who had taken his money. The sergeant requested each of the officers (Sullivan, Walsh, and Harvey) to return to police headquarters to write a report concerning the incident. All of the officers complied. The defendant's written statement was consistent with what he had told Sergeant Hussey orally.

Upon the officers' arrival at the station, the paperwork to place Dayton in protective custody was completed. This booking procedure was recorded on a videotape that was admitted in evidence at the defendant's trial for the limited purpose of showing Dayton's condition as to sobriety around the time of the alleged incident. While at the station Dayton filed a citizen's complaint with the Cambridge police department regarding the events described above.

The defendant did not testify at trial. He did, however, dispute Dayton's allegations on four separate occasions, the first two occurring, as previously described, on March 21, 1984. The defendant prepared a second written report on March 27, 1984, at the direction of Captain William Burke, the night commander. Captain Burke obtained the report from the defendant at the request of Lieutenant William D. Cummings. Lieutenant Cummings was the officer conducting the investigation of Dayton's citizen's complaint as part of his duties with the inspectional services section of the Cambridge police department. In all material respects, the second report was identical to the report prepared and submitted by the defendant on March 21, 1984.

On March 29, 1984, the defendant was interviewed by Lieutenant Cummings as part of the investigation of Dayton's complaint. The defendant's presence at the interview was arranged through a letter sent by Lieutenant Cummings to Captain Burke, "requesting that Officer Robert Harvey report to [Cummings's] office on March 29, 1984." The defendant appeared for the interview accompanied by Officer Edward Loder, president of the Cambridge patrolman's association. The interview was tape recorded. The tape was later transcribed and with the defendant's statements of March 21 and 27, 1984, admitted in evidence at the defendant's trial. We now address the defendant's arguments.

1. The motion to suppress. On August 6, 1984, the defendant filed a pretrial motion to suppress each of the statements that he had made regarding the events of March 21, 1984. See Mass.R.Crim.P. 13, 378 Mass. 871 (1979). The motion was heard on the same day and the judge denied the defendant's motion. On August 10, 1984, the judge issued a detailed order outlining his findings of fact and rulings of law. 1 In denying the motion, the judge ruled that none of the statements given by the defendant was the result of a "custodial interrogation" within the meaning of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444, 86 S.Ct. 1602, 1612, 16 L.Ed.2d 694 (1966). 2 See Commonwealth v. Bryant, 390 Mass. 729, 737, 459 N.E.2d 792 (1984) (factors considered in evaluating whether interrogation is custodial). He further ruled that the defendant's statements were not obtained by coercion under the threat of removal from office as exemplified by the United States Supreme Court's decision in Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493, 500, 87 S.Ct. 616, 620, 17 L.Ed.2d 562 (1967). 3 Relying exclusively on United States v. Indorato, 628 F.2d 711 (1st Cir.), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 1016, 101 S.Ct. 578, 66 L.Ed.2d 476 (1980), the judge ruled that the defendant's "subjective fear that he would be dismissed [from office] if he refused to give the statements under consideration [did] not demonstrate that these statements were coerced."

The defendant argues that, in ruling on the motion to suppress, the judge erred by "confin[ing] his analysis to federal constitutional principles." As we understand it, the thrust of the defendant's claim is that a statement may be considered sufficiently voluntary so as to survive a challenge under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, but still be regarded as "compelled" under art. 12. 4 Although such might be the case, we need not decide the issue at this time, since there is nothing in the record before us to indicate that the defendant was "compelled to accuse, or furnish evidence against himself."

We acknowledge that the defendant was required by the rules of the Cambridge police department to obey the lawful orders of his superior officers, and that this imposed upon him an obligation to answer questions regarding his duties as a police officer. See Silverio v. Municipal Court of the City of Boston, 355 Mass. 623, 626, 247 N.E.2d 379, cert. denied, 396 U.S. 878, 90 S.Ct. 151, 24 L.Ed.2d 135 (1969). We further understand that the defendant prepared his second written statement and attended the interview before Lieutenant Cummings while the defendant was the subject of a citizen's complaint. Furthermore, it is clear that the defendant may have faced disciplinary proceedings, which ultimately could have resulted in his dismissal, if he refused to answer pertinent questions during the investigation. 5 However the fact that there existed the possibility of adverse consequences from the defendant's failure to cooperate does not demonstrate that the defendant was "compelled" to incriminate himself. The defendant has not argued that there was any overt threat or direct pressure from his superiors that coerced his choice. He was not told that he would be discharged if he refused to cooperate on grounds of self-incrimination. See Uniformed Sanitation Men Ass'n, Inc. v. Commissioner of Sanitation of the City of N.Y., 392 U.S. 280, 284-285, 88 S.Ct. 1917, 1919-1920, 20 L.Ed.2d 1089 (1968). Unlike the appellants in Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493, 497, 87 S.Ct. 616,...

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