Judge finds word 'upon' significant in the case
In his order issued on Friday, Camacho granted assistant public defender Daniel Guidotti’s motion to dismiss the revocation proceedings filed against his client, Raymond N. Saka.
Camacho ruled that, on Oct. 26, 2011 when the oral revocation was made, Saka’s term of probation had already expired and therefore the court lacked jurisdiction over the matter.
The judge said the 14 days Saka spent in jail did not toll his probation and that defendant’s probation expired on Oct. 12, 2011.
“In other words, the clock stops as soon as the Commonwealth or the Office of Adult Probation moves to revoke,” Camacho said.
According to court records, on Oct. 13, 2010, Saka pleaded guilty to assault and battery. Then Superior Court associate judge Ramona V. Manglona ordered the defendant to, among other things, report to the Office of Adult Probation that same day (Oct. 13).
Manglona sentenced Saka to six months in jail, all suspended except for 15 days, with credit for one day time served.
Manglona placed the defendant on supervised probation for one year.
The order required Saka to report to the Department of Corrections on Oct. 25, 2010. The order stated he was to be released Nov. 9, 2010.
Saka served 14 days in jail and was released from DOC on Nov. 9, 2010.
On Oct. 26, 2011, a probation officer made an oral motion to revoke Saka’s probation. The OAG then filed a notice of revocation hearing on Dec. 5, 2011.
Guidotti, counsel for Saka, filed a motion to dismiss that questioned the court’s jurisdiction on expired probation matter.
Guidotti said consistent with the court’s order, Saka’s probation began on Oct. 13, 2010, regardless whether he appeared at the Office of Adult Probation that day.
In opposition to Saka’s motion, assistant attorney general Darren Robinson asserted that although Judge Manglona ordered the defendant to report to the Office of Adult Probation on Oct. 13, 2010, his probationary period did not begin until his release from jail on Nov. 9, 2010.
Robinson said Manglona’s order did not specify when probation was to begin, only when Saka was to report to the Office of Adult Probation.
Robinson said Saka mistakenly interprets the word “report” to mean that probation began at this time.
In granting Saka’s motion to dismiss, Judge Camacho noted that the plea agreement, which Judge Manglona accepted, reads in pertinent part that the “Defendant shall, upon changing his plea to guilty, be placed on supervised probation for one year.”
Camacho said the meaning of “upon” in this case is significant.
One definition of “upon” is “immediately or very soon after,” Camacho said.
Camacho said several uses of the word “on,” a synonym of “upon,” also support this usage.
Camacho said the plain meaning of “upon changing his plea to guilty, be placed on supervised probation for one year,” naturally means that defendant will be placed on probation as soon as he pleads guilty.
“The Commonwealth’s argument that additional language would be needed to indicate immediacy such as ‘immediately upon pleading guilty’ is not persuasive,” the judge said.
Rather, Camacho added, the plain meaning of “upon” would render the word “immediately” superfluous in this context.
By Ferdie de la Torre