Here in Massachusetts and indeed across the country, most of the public who have watched the sick and twisted saga of the murder of young Bella Bond, are understandably outraged at the extremely lenient sentence that the dead girl’s mother, Rachelle Bond, was given today by a Massachusetts Superior Court judge. That sentence? Time already served while incarcerated in this matter – approximately 2 years – plus 2 years of probation & drug monitoring. She will walk free by this Friday, into a rehab program at a halfway house. Continue reading
Predictably, the Michelle Carter verdict, my legal analysis of which I posted previously, has dominated both public discourse as well as legal debate over the last couple of days. And with equal predictability, this debate has broken down along lines of civil liberties groups (such as the ACLU,) as well as so called “cyber rights” and “social media/internet free speech” groups, loudly criticizing it. Critical re-emphasis of the contextual facts of this case, validating the judge’s verdict, is much needed here.
Those who disagree with this judge’s decision, base their positions on largely these two bases:
- That because Massachusetts does not currently have a specific statute on the books criminalizing the act of “encouraging” a person to commit suicide, the judge’s finding is without legal foundation. This claim is entirely false as a matter of law, as I will discuss below.
The long and painful saga of the trial of Michelle Carter, charged with Involuntary Manslaughter in the 2014 suicide death of her 18 year-old “boyfriend” Carter Roy III, is not completely finished. Not on a legal level, because Carter has yet to be sentenced – that will come later. And on a personal level, the case will in reality never be “finished” – not for the two families involved in this story of pathos and “progress” (i.e., technological.) Certainly not for several others affected by it, either.
For it is a fact that a collision of forces took place in this young man’s death: A combination of mental illness in the form of depression, of homicidal animus, and, yes, of moral decay within a society where the most intimate of relationships – including marriage – and now, yes, life itself- are ended by something called a smartphone. Yes, this case is an indictment and a conviction of one person – Michelle Carter – for the suicidal death of Conrad Roy III. But our society as a whole can be indicted here, as well: For reducing the value of human life and human interaction to something so shallow and cowardly as an electronic text. Continue reading
Just a couple of days ago, a man was arrested and charged with serious felony counts on Massachusetts drug charges, in Lawrence District Court. Except this case is rather unique. You see, this defendant didn’t end up in handcuffs or court in the usual way: Being arrested by the police. He ended up in jail because his 11 year-old son called the police on his father – effectively, turning him in.
The boy the called Lawrence Massachusetts Police Department on his father, Yamil Mercado, after allegedly seeing his father deal drugs out of their home there. Mercado reportedly surrendered to police last Thursday, one day after the boy called police to say that he and his 13-year-old cousin had found what they believed were drugs in the father’s luggage, according to a police report. The boy reportedly also told police that he’d witnesses his father in a drug deal just a day few days earlier. Continue reading
A lot has been reported in the media and debated since Aaron Hernandez – by all present appearances – committed suicide this past Wednesday. Most of the debate has surrounded the public’s confusion over this business that Hernandez’ suicide means that he was “not guilty” over the murder of Odin Lloyd (which of course, he was convicted of in April 2015.)
So, what’s this all about? A very old and little-used Massachusetts law, that’s what. Its formal name is“abatement ab initio,” and it loosely translates to “removed from the beginning.” It is a common law which has its roots in British law, when Massachusetts was still a British colony. The legal rationale behind this law was that, since it was possible that someone’s conviction might have been legally defective in some manner, that person should have the right of a full appeal – and that if some intervening event prevented that appeal (such as the convict’s death,) then the person’s name should be legally “cleared.” Massachusetts is only one of a handful of states in the U.S. that either still have this common law on the books, or that still recognize it as valid. Many states have either modified it in some manner, or nullified its applicability to present cases. In all of the states that have nullified this doctrine, it’s been done so in the name of the rights of crime victims. It’s not hard to see why. Continue reading
By now readers of this blog know that just a couple of days ago, the state of Massachusetts – through the Department of Public Utilities’ Transportation Division – pulled off the road more than 8,000 drivers for ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft. Reason: These people failed state background checks – but the worst part was that these drivers had already passed background checks run on them by Uber and Lyft. Suffice to say, a very serious problem. Continue reading
We live in the Age of Information; the Age of the smartphone. An age in which the activities of almost every citizen are monitored by sources both public and private – including your own cell phone, debit cards and credit cards.
Some examples we may not care to think about, but as a Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer, I can assure you of the following: Your vehicle is tracked by video cameras run by government – local, state and federal government agencies –at intersections, on the Massachusetts Turnpike, and many highways. Your own smart phone monitors your locations, tracking you wherever you go and whenever you go. Numerous apps that you might use on your phone also – perhaps unbeknownst to you – track your movements and location. When you are stopped at roadside by a police officer, an increasing number of police cruisers record the stop on both video and audio, via either dash-cameras or body cameras. When you pay for a product at a store with a debit or credit card, that card also tracks where you were, and when. Your movements inside the store are recorded by video cameras. Your movements outside the store are also being video recorded. Continue reading
As a Massachusetts drug arrest defense lawyer, I never cease to be amazed at the resistance I see to the will of the voters on the subject of marijuana legalization, from both the federal government, as well as local government here in Massachusetts. It really is stunning. I say this as someone who is not a recreational user of marijuana, but as an attorney who has seen far too many people’s reputations and lives damaged due to criminal accusations connected with pot use. Equally troubling is the massive amount of taxpayer dollars that are spent on police departments and prosecutors to prosecute use of a substance that almost always involves a victimless and harmless fact pattern.
I consider the source of the federal government’s resistance to be obvious: Big Pharma, which does not want cannabis legalized for either medicinal or recreational use. The smple reason? They want the public to use their drugs – the FDA “approved” drugs – for relief from pain and a whole host of physical diseases and ailments – and cannabis has been shown to provide relief from a variety of illnesses, from Parkinson’s to ALS, to cancer treatments, to anxiety. The pharmaceutical drug companies that make their “approved” drugs, make billions of dollars through the choke-hold they have on those drugs to treat these conditions. And they don’t want to have to compete with cannabis, and lose billions in the process. Continue reading
Amid all the Super Bowl hype, try to remember something: Aside from New Year’s Eve, St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo, Super Bowl Sunday is one the drunkest days of the year. Worse still, the number of inebriated people who get behind the wheel after drinking at a Super Bowl party or similar event, is extremely high. Doing so is just plain foolish, but a lot of people do it , thinking that they’re not “really drunk”, or that the odds of them being stopped by police is low.
As a Wrentham Massachusetts OUI attorney I can assure you, that is not so: The number of police patrols on the road this day have been increased dramatically – both in Massachusetts and across the country. There are DUI checkpoints set up at strategic locations, and police will be watching.
Here are a few interesting facts about DUI and Super Bowl Sunday: Continue reading
I’ve written on this blog previously about the Massachusetts drug lab scandal, and I tweeted earlier this week about the latest , very significant development surrounding that scandal.
This colossal mess began almost 5 years ago, with the discovery that a Massachusetts drug lab chemist, Annie Dookhan, had spent years intentionally falsifying the lab tests that were submitted to the drug lab for content analysis for use by state prosecutors in drug cases. The cases of approximately 20,000 Massachusetts drug defendants and drug convicts were affected by her actions. For several years now, state and court officials have grappled with what to do with these cases and convictions, which came to be called the “Dookhan defendants.” Continue reading