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General Laws

Section 27A. (a) Every division of the district court department is authorized to hold jury sessions for the purpose of conducting jury trials of cases commenced in the several courts of criminal offenses over which the district courts have original jurisdiction under the provisions of section twenty-six. The Boston municipal court department shall also be authorized for the purpose of conducting jury trials in cases commenced in said department and for the purpose of conducting jury trials of cases commenced in the divisions of the district court department in Suffolk county.

(b) The chief justice for the district court department shall designate at least one division in each county or an adjoining county for the purpose of conducting jury trials; provided, however, that jury trials in cases commenced in the courts within Suffolk county shall be held in the Boston municipal court department or district courts in Suffolk county or with the approval of the chief justice, may be held in such divisions of the district court department the judicial districts of which adjoin Suffolk county as are designated by said chief justice; and jury trials in cases commenced in the divisions for Dukes county and Nantucket county may be held in Barnstable county or Bristol county; and provided further that, with the approval of the chief justice for the superior court department, facilities of said superior court may be designated by the chief justice for administration and management of the trial court for jury trials in cases commenced in the district court department or in the Boston municipal court department. Jurors shall be drawn from the county in which trial is held.

The chief justice of the district court department may also designate one or more divisions in each county for the purpose of conducting jury-waived trials of cases commenced in any court of said county consistent with the requirements of the proper administration of justice.

(c) A defendant in any division of the district court who waives his right to jury trial as provided in section twenty-six A shall be provided a jury-waived trial in the same division.

A defendant in any division of the district court who does not waive his right to jury trial as provided in section twenty-six A shall be provided a jury trial in a jury session in the same division if such has been established in said division. If such session has not been so established, the defendant shall be provided a jury trial in a jury session as hereinbefore designated. In cases where the defendant declines to waive the right to jury trial, the clerk shall forthwith transfer the case for trial in the appropriate jury session. Such transfer shall be governed by procedures to be established by the chief justice for the district court department.

(d) The justice presiding over a jury session shall have and exercise all the powers and duties 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, but in no case may he impose a sentence to the state prison. No justice so sitting shall act in a case in which he has sat or held an inquest or otherwise taken part in any proceeding therein.

(e) Trials by juries of six persons shall proceed in accordance with the provisions of law applicable to trials by jury in the superior court except that the number of peremptory challenges shall be limited to two to each defendant. The commonwealth shall be entitled to as many challenges as equal the whole number to which all the defendants in the case entitled.

(f) For the jury sessions, jurors shall be provided by the office of the jury commissioner in accordance with the provisions of chapter two hundred and thirty-four A.

(g) The district attorney for the district in which the alleged offense or offenses occurred shall appear for the commonwealth in the trial of all cases in which the right to jury trial has not been waived and may appear in any other case. The chief justices for the district court department and the Boston municipal court department shall arrange for the sittings of the jury sessions of their respective departments and shall assign justices thereto, to the end that speedy trials may be provided. Review may be had directly by the appeals court, by appeals, report or otherwise in the same manner provided for trials of criminal cases in the superior court.

(h) The justice presiding at such jury session in the Boston municipal court department or district court department shall, upon the request of the defendant, appoint a stenographer; provided, however, that where the defendant claims indigency, such appointment is determined to be reasonably necessary in accordance with the provisions 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 for the department where the case is tried; and provided, further, that such rate shall not exceed the rate provided by 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 shall be given to the clerk of the court by the defendant in writing no later than forty-eight hours prior to the proceeding for which the stenographer has been requested. In the Boston municipal court department or the district court department, the defendant shall file with such request an affidavit of indigency 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 defendant 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 Boston municipal court department or the district 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 chief justices for the Boston municipal court department or the district court department, or his designee, to be an accurate electronic reproduction of said record or part thereof, or a typewritten transcript of all or a 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 whenever proof of such testimony is otherwise competent. The defendant 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.

(i) In any case heard in a jury session where a defendant is found guilty and placed on probation, he shall thereafter be supervised by the probation officer of the court in which the case originated, unless the trial justice shall order otherwise and unless the regulations of the commissioner of probation provide otherwise.

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