Massachusetts Clerk-Magistrate Declines To Issue Assault & Battery Charges In Hockey Game

Readers of this blog may remember that three years ago I posted a blog about a football player at Arlington Catholic High School, who faced Massachusetts assault and battery charges after he allegedly “head-butted” a football player at an Abington High School footbal game, In that case, I saw the defendant as possibly exhibiting the specific intent required to commit the crime charged.

Just a few days ago, there was a similar case in Duxbury, in which a high school student filed charges of assault and battery against a hockey player at Scituate High school. The victim, Tucker Hannon, filed the charges against Alex Way, charging him with needlessly “checking” him – hockey parlance for slamming into him. It resulted in Mr. Hannon experiencing a concussion and missing five weeks of school. He was also forced to sit in darkness for two weeks while recovering, as exposure to light can aggravate such a head injury.

However, yesterday, at a Massachusetts Clerk-Magistrate hearing in Plymouth District Court, the Clerk Magistrate, Philip McCue, found no probable cause for the complaint. What this means, in layman’s terms, is that the Clerk-Magistrate determined that there was no “probable cause” to find that young Way posessed the specific intent to commit an assault and battery against young Hannon. The legal elements of assault and battery can be found by clicking here. As a result of the Clerk-Magistrate’s findings, no charges were brought against young Mr. Way.

Durign the game, no penalty was issued for the play, and the coach of the Scituate boys hockey team was quoted in the Patriot Ledger newspaper as saying it was a “good, clean hit.” Despite this, Hannon’s parents and Hannon filed an Application for Criminal Complaint with the court, thus triggering the hearing.

As a Norfolk County assault and battery attorney, here’s my take: Hockey and football students need to be careful to remember that just because they’re playing in a “game,” doesn’t give them license or free reign to engage in gratuitous, or needless, violence when in the game. In many cases, aggression on the ice and on the field can cross the line. As my previous 2009 blog (above) about criminal charges brought in the Arlington High School football game showed, and as this incident showed, these games are often no “game.”