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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 55A: Delinquent children; jury trials; discovery orders; jury-waived trials; appointment of stenographer

Section 55A. Trial of a child complained of as a delinquent child or indicted as a youthful offender in a division of the juvenile court department shall be by a jury, unless the child files a written waiver and consent to be tried by the court without a jury. Such waiver shall not be received unless the child is represented by counsel or has filed, through his parent or guardian, a written waiver of counsel. No decision on such waiver shall be received until after the completion of a pretrial conference and a hearing on the results of such conference and until after the disposition of any pretrial discovery motions and compliance with any order of the court pursuant to said motions. Such waiver shall be filed in accordance with the provisions of section six of chapter two hundred and sixty-three; provided, however, that defense counsel shall execute a certificate signed by said counsel indicating that he has made all the necessary explanations and determinations regarding such waiver. The form of such certificates shall be prescribed by the chief justice for the juvenile court department.

In the juvenile court department upon the motion of a child consistent with criminal procedure, or upon the court's own motion, the judge shall issue an order of discovery requiring the prosecutor to provide in writing any information to which the child is entitled and also requiring that the child be permitted to discover, inspect, and copy any material and relevant evidence, documents, statements or persons, or reports of physical or mental examinations of any person or of scientific tests or experiments, within the possession, custody, or control of the prosecutor or persons under his direction and control. Upon motion of the child the judge shall order the production by the commonwealth of the names and addresses of the prospective witnesses and the production by the probation department of the record of prior convictions of any such witnesses. The commonwealth shall be entitled to reciprocal discovery as set forth in Rule 14 (a) (1) (3) of the Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Trial by jury in the juvenile court department shall be in those jury sessions designated in accordance with section fifty-six. Where the child has properly filed a waiver and consented to be tried without a jury, as hereinbefore provided, trial shall proceed in accordance with the provisions of law applicable to jury-waived trials in the superior court; provided, however, that at the option of the child, the trial may be before a judge who has not rejected an agreed upon recommendation or disposition request made by the child pursuant to the provisions of section fifty-five B. Review in such cases may be had directly by the appeals court, by appeal, report or otherwise in the same manner provided for trials of criminal cases in the superior court.

The justice presiding over such jury-waived trial in the juvenile court department shall have and exercise all of the powers which a justice sitting in the superior court department has and may exercise in the trial and disposition of criminal cases including the power to report questions of law to the appeals court.

The justice presiding at such jury-waived session in the juvenile court department shall, upon the request of the child, appoint a stenographer; provided, however, that where the child claims indigence, such appointment is determined to be reasonably necessary in accordance with the provisions of sections twenty-seven A to twenty-seven G, inclusive, of chapter two hundred and sixty-one. Such stenographer shall be sworn, and shall take stenographic notes of all the testimony given at the trial, and shall provide the parties thereto with a transcript of his notes or any part thereof taken at the trial or hearing for which he shall be paid by the party requesting it at the rate fixed by the chief justice of the juvenile court department; provided, however, that such rate shall not exceed the rate provided pursuant to section eighty-eight of chapter two hundred and twenty-one. Said chief justice may make regulations not inconsistent with law relative to the assignments, duties and services of stenographers appointed for sessions in his department and any other matter relative to stenographers. The compensation and expenses of a stenographer shall be paid by the commonwealth.

The request for the appointment of a stenographer to preserve the testimony at a trial in the juvenile court department shall be given to the clerk of the court by the child in writing no later than forty-eight hours prior to the proceeding for which the stenographer has been requested. The child shall file with such request an affidavit of indigence and request for payment by the commonwealth of the cost of the transcript and the court shall hold a hearing on such request prior to appointing a stenographer, in those cases where the child alleges that he will be unable to pay said cost. Said hearing shall be governed by the provisions of sections twenty-seven A to twenty-seven G, inclusive, of chapter two hundred and sixty-one, and the cost of such transcript shall be considered an extra cost as provided therein. If the court is unable, for any reason, to provide a stenographer, the proceedings may be recorded by electronic means. The original recording of proceedings in the juvenile court department made with a recording device under the exclusive control of the court shall be the official record of such proceedings. Said record or a copy of all or a part thereof, certified by the presiding justice or his designee, to be an accurate electronic reproduction of said record or part thereof, or a typewritten transcript of all or part of said record or copy thereof, certified to be accurate by the court or by the preparer of said transcript, or stipulated to by the parties, shall be admissible in any court as evidence of testimony given wherever proof of such testimony is otherwise competent. The child may request payment by the commonwealth of the cost of said transcript subject to the same provisions regarding a transcript of a stenographer as provided hereinbefore.