Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Massachusetts Court Releases Mental Health Detainee After State Blows Deadline

The Supreme Judicial Court for the county of Suffolk, Massachusetts dismissed the case of David Gangi, confined pursuant to G.L. c 123A, Section 13(a) to determine whether or not "probable cause exists to believe that the person named in the petition is a sexually dangerous person." The statute requires that the person be confined for a period not to exceed "60 days." In the present case, Gangi was "confined for sixteen days more than the statutory maximum, and because this delay was not justified by any extraordinary circumstances, we conclude that the Commonwealth's petition for civil commitment must be dismissed."

According to the court, the General Law "provides for the commitment of persons found to be sexually dangerous," Commonwealth v. Alvarado, 452 Mass. 194, 195 (2008). It also, however, must strike "a balance between the public interest and a defendant's substantive due process rights," Commonwealth v. Parra, 445 Mass. 262 (2005). These are "strict procedural deadlines," the court stated, and "The Commonwealth concedes that the period of Gangi's commitment (from) the finding of probable cause and the petition for trial exceeded the sixty-day statutory maximum."

The court concluded that, "Because 'extraordinary circumstances' are not present, we do of consider whether the sixteen extra days of... confinement constitute a 'very brief' delay…. Confinement without legal justification is never innocuous," Commonwealth v. Kennedy, 435 Mass. 527 (2001). As a result, the prisoner was ordered released from the custody of the Commonwealth. See: Gangi v. Commonwealth, 462 Mass. 158, 967 N.E.2d 135 (Mass. 2012).

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login

Related legal case

Gangi v. Commonwealth