Commonwealth v. Blondin

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtQUA
Citation87 N.E.2d 455,324 Mass. 564
Decision Date27 July 1949
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH v. BLONDIN, and five companion cases.

324 Mass. 564
87 N.E.2d 455

COMMONWEALTH
v.
BLONDIN, and five companion cases.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Berkshire.

July 27, 1949.


Case Reserved from Supreme Judicial Court.

John H. Blondin, Elmer A. Melanson, and Ronald W. Morin were each prosecuted under separate indictments and convicted of the crimes of rape and of abuse of a female child under 16 years of age. The Appellate Division of the Superior Court reduced the sentence on each count in each case and all six cases were brought to the Supreme Judicial Court on a bill of exceptions taken in connection with a motion for new trial upon each of the original indictments and upon a reservation and report by a single justice, of proceedings upon writs of error sued out by the original defendants.

All exceptions overruled; and on each writ of error, judgment affirmed.

[87 N.E.2d 456]

Before QUA, C.J., and DOLAN, RONAN, SPALDING and WILLIAMS, JJ.

[87 N.E.2d 457]

W. H. Lewis, Jr., Boston, J. John, Boston, for defendants and petitioners.


S. E. Levine, Asst. Dist. Atty., North Adams, for Commonwealth.

QUA, Chief Justice.

These six cases all grow out of the separate indictment and conviction of each of the three defendants of the crimes of rape and of abuse of a female child under sixteen years of age. Each of the three indictments charged the two crimes in separate counts. The extreme penalty for each crime is life imprisonment. G.L. (Ter.Ed.) c. 265, §§ 22, 23. The three indictments were tried together and resulted in verdicts of guilty against each defendant on each count. The trial judge sentenced each defendant on each count to imprisonment in the State prison for a term of forty to fifty years, the sentences on the two counts of each indictment to run concurrently. The Appellate Division of the Superior Court reduced the sentence on each count in each case to from twenty-five to thirty years. G.L. (Ter.Ed.) c. 278, §§ 28A-28D, as inserted by St.1943, c. 558, § 1, and as affected and amended in §§ 28A, 28B, and 28C by St.1945, c. 255, §§ 1, 2, 3. The period of actual confinement is subject to further substantial reduction for good conduct and for satisfactory and diligent performance of work. (G.L. [Ter.Ed.] c. 127, § 129, as appearing in St.1948, c. 450, § 1) and is subject to the possibility of parole as provided by law after a period of two thirds of the minimum sentence has elapsed. See G.L. (Ter.Ed.) c. 127, § 133, as amended by St.1946, c. 254.

The six cases now before us consist or a bill of exceptions taken in connection with a motion for new trial upon each of the original indictments and a reservation and report by a single justice of this court of proceedings upon writs of error sued out by the original defendants. The motions for new trial were filed after sentence but within the time allowed by G.L. (Ter.Ed.) c. 278, § 29, as appearing in St.1939, c. 271, § 1.

The grounds of the motions for new trial are, except one, substantially the same as to each of the three defendants. They consist of various allegations of fact and assertions of errors of law. The motions were fully heard by the trial judge. It is plain that many of the allegations of fact were not believed by him. The facts were for him and not for us to determine. Commonwealth v. Dascalakis, 246 Mass. 12, 25-26, 140 N.E. 470. The bills of exceptions do not, in general, disclose what evidence was introduced at the hearing of the motions, so that we could not decide facts even if questions of fact were within our province. The trial judge did make certain findings of fact, which we must accept as true. Davis v. Boston Elevated Railway Company, 235 Mass. 482, 495, 126 N.E. 841. He also admitted in evidence at the hearing on the motions the full transcript of the evidence at the original trial, and this is introduced in the bills of exceptions. This evidence we may use in so far as it bears on any questions arising out of the motions as to errors of law in the conduct of the trial.

Ordinarily such errors occurring during the progress of a trial should be followed by immediate objection and exception, in order that they may be corrected at once, and cannot become the ground of a subsequent motion for new trial, unless the judge sees fit in his discretion to reconsider the matters involved. Commonwealth v. Dascalakis, 246 Mass. 12, 24, 140 N.E. 470;Commonwealth v. McKnight, 289 Mass. 530, 543-544, 195 N.E. 499;Commonwealth v. Galvin, 323 Mass. 205, 220, 80 N.E.2d 825. But in this instance the judge passed seriatim upon all the defendants' requests for findings and rulings and has allowed bills of exceptions founded upon them. We think that he exercised his discretion in favor of considering them, as he might well do in the circumstances. We are further of opinion that this course has preserved for our consideration the questions of law as to which exceptions have been duly saved. This accords with the decision in Peterson v. Hopson, 306 Mass. 597, 602-603, 29 N.E.2d 140, 132 A.L.R. 1, and with a number of limitations in others of the more recent cases. Loveland v. Rand, 200 Mass. 142, 146, 85 N.E. 948;Ryan v. Hickey, 240 Mass. 46, 68,132 N.E. 718;

[87 N.E.2d 458]

Kelley v. Jordan Marsh Co., 278 Mass. 101, 109, 179 N.E. 299;Commonwealth v. McKnight, 289 Mass. 530, 543-544, 195 N.E. 499;Commonwealth v. Millen, 290 Mass. 406, 408, 195 N.E. 541;Squires v. Toye, 291 Mass. 342, 343, 196 N.E. 927;Ross v. Colonial Provision Co., Inc., 299 Mass. 39, 42, 12 N.E.2d 98. It has been said that the practice is the same on both the civil and criminal sides of the court. Commonwealth v. Dascalakis, 246 Mass. 12, 25, 140 N.E. 470;Commonwealth v. Gedzium, 261 Mass. 299, 159 N.E. 51. We therefore deal with all substantial questions of law raised by exceptions in connection with the motions for new trial and argued in this court.

1. There was no violation of art. 12 of the Declaration of Rights of the Constitution of Massachusetts or, in our opinion, of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in putting the defendants to trial without the assistance of counsel. The defendants were never deprived of their right to have counsel in accordance with our Declaration of Rights. They had ample opportunity to procure counsel between January 4, 1946, and January 22, 1946. The only reason, as found by the trial judge, why they did not have counsel was their “inability to pay for the same.” Article 12 of the Declaration of Rights does not require that counsel be furnished, and we may add that no statute requires it in noncapital cases. All this is fully explainedn in the case of Allen v. Commonwealth, Mass., 87 N.E.2d 192, which has been considered in connection with the present cases and is also decided this day.

In reference to the Fourteenth Amendment we said in the Allen case that we accept the law as fixed at the point now reached by actual majority decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, and that “To the best of our understanding the law so determined does not require the assignment of counsel in every noncapital case, even though the charge be a serious one. The law, as we understand it, requires assignment of counsel in noncapital cases only when the defendant, by reason of youth, inexperience, or incapacity of some kind, or by reason of some unfair conduct by the public authorities, or of complication of issues, or of some special prejudice or disadvantage, stands in need of counsel in order to secure the fundamentals of a fair trial.” We there relied particularly upon Betts v. Brady, 316 U.S. 455, 62 S.Ct. 1252, 86 L.Ed. 1595;Foster v. Illinois, 332 U.S. 134, 67 S.Ct. 1716, 91 L.Ed. 1955;Bute v. Illinois, 333 U.S. 640, 68 S.Ct. 763, 92 L.Ed. 986, and Uveges v. Pennsylvania, 335 U.S. 437, 69 S.Ct. 184. The other cases on the subject are cited in the Allen case. In the cases now before us none of those elements are present. The transcript of the evidence at the trial shows that the three defendants snatched a young girl forcibly on a public road in the early darkness of a winter evening, placed her in an automobile, and carried her to a secluded spot, where after a struggle in which she sustained some injuries each of the three defendants were mature married men. There is no suggestion that they were not of average intelligence. Allegations tending to the contrary in the motions for new trial are not borne out by the transcript or by the findings of the judge. The trial judge saw to it throughout the trial that the defendants were informed of their rights in accordance with the practice in Massachusetts courts when a defendant is not represented by counsel. The issues were subject to no special prejudice or disadvantage of any kind. The evidence of the commission of the crimes and of the identification of the defendants as the perpetrators was so overwhelming that it is impossible to conceive that the result would have been different if they had had counsel.

2. The defendants except on the ground that they were tried “in camera behind closed doors.” The trial judge found that they were “tried in camera behind closed doors,” but ruled “that same” was not in violation of their rights. It is perhaps unfortunate that the trial judge, instead of adopting the precise words of the requests

[87 N.E.2d 459]

presented to him by the defendants,1 did not state with particularity exactly what order of exclusion be made. Nevertheless, his finding must be interpreted in...

To continue reading

Request your trial
64 practice notes
  • State v. Yoes, No. 659
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • November 1, 1967
    ...the exclusion of bystanders during the testimony of the prosecutrix denied them the right to a public trial. See Commonwealth v. Blondin, 324 Mass. 564, 87 N.E.2d 455, cert. den. 339 U.S. 984, 70 S.Ct. 1004, 94 L.Ed. 1387. This was authorized by G.S. § 15--166. Representatives of the press ......
  • Com. v. Binkiewicz
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • June 9, 1961
    ...opportunity to prepare and to present the defence. Allen v. Commonwealth, 324 Mass. 558, 87 N.E.2d 192; Commonwealth v. Blondin, 324 Mass. 564, 567-569, 87 N.E.2d 455; Avery v. Alabama, 308 U.S. 444, 446, 60 S.Ct. 321, 84 L.Ed. 371; House v. Mayo, 324 U.S. 42, 45-46, 65 S.Ct. 517, 89 L.Ed. ......
  • Com. v. Ries
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • May 14, 1958
    ...Barker, 311 Mass. 82, 89, 40 N.E.2d 265; Commonwealth v. Sheppard, 313 Mass. 590, 595, 48 N.E.2d Page 533 630; Commonwealth v. Blondin, 324 Mass. 564, 573, 87 N.E.2d 2. There was no error in the refusal to direct verdicts for the defendant on the larceny indictments upon the ground of insuf......
  • Com. v. Bohmer
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • February 15, 1978
    ...It has been the universal practice of our courts to provide open trials, unless a statute demands otherwise. Commonwealth v. Blondin, 324 Mass. 564, 569-571, 87 N.E.2d 455 (1949), cert. denied, 339 U.S. 984, 70 S.Ct. 1004, 94 L.Ed. 1387 (1950). Ottaway Newspapers, Inc. v. Appeals Court, ---......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
64 cases
  • State v. Yoes, No. 659
    • United States
    • North Carolina United States State Supreme Court of North Carolina
    • November 1, 1967
    ...the exclusion of bystanders during the testimony of the prosecutrix denied them the right to a public trial. See Commonwealth v. Blondin, 324 Mass. 564, 87 N.E.2d 455, cert. den. 339 U.S. 984, 70 S.Ct. 1004, 94 L.Ed. 1387. This was authorized by G.S. § 15--166. Representatives of the press ......
  • Com. v. Binkiewicz
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • June 9, 1961
    ...opportunity to prepare and to present the defence. Allen v. Commonwealth, 324 Mass. 558, 87 N.E.2d 192; Commonwealth v. Blondin, 324 Mass. 564, 567-569, 87 N.E.2d 455; Avery v. Alabama, 308 U.S. 444, 446, 60 S.Ct. 321, 84 L.Ed. 371; House v. Mayo, 324 U.S. 42, 45-46, 65 S.Ct. 517, 89 L.Ed. ......
  • Com. v. Ries
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • May 14, 1958
    ...Barker, 311 Mass. 82, 89, 40 N.E.2d 265; Commonwealth v. Sheppard, 313 Mass. 590, 595, 48 N.E.2d Page 533 630; Commonwealth v. Blondin, 324 Mass. 564, 573, 87 N.E.2d 2. There was no error in the refusal to direct verdicts for the defendant on the larceny indictments upon the ground of insuf......
  • Com. v. Bohmer
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • February 15, 1978
    ...It has been the universal practice of our courts to provide open trials, unless a statute demands otherwise. Commonwealth v. Blondin, 324 Mass. 564, 569-571, 87 N.E.2d 455 (1949), cert. denied, 339 U.S. 984, 70 S.Ct. 1004, 94 L.Ed. 1387 (1950). Ottaway Newspapers, Inc. v. Appeals Court, ---......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT