Gang members that are tried for various Massachusetts crimes – most of them violent offenses – are known to make a show of their support during these trials. A lot of people are now saying that a new ‘tool’ has been provided to friends of gang members on trial for criminal charges in Massachusetts. It might be summed up as follows: Are you a violent gang member? Do you have a good friend on trial for murder, rape, drug charges or other offenses? Want to end the trial or get him a new jury? Just pull a stunt — stab some of the key witnesses. And while you’re at it, do it near the courthouse.
That is the message that some are saying played out this week in Suffolk Superior Court, Boston. Judge Linda Giles suddenly ended a murder trial and dismissed the jurors. Why? Because in plain sight in downtown Boston yesterday, four people were stabbed near the courthouse, and two of the victims were possible witnesses in that trial. Those two people suffered injuries so serious they may not be able to testify next week.
Judge Giles did say that she was concerned that her decision could set a precedent by sending a signal that to end a trial, all someone needed to do was to attack some of its participants.
As a Suffolk County criminal defense attorney, I disagree with the judge. I understand her concerns, but I believe she should not have halted the trial, because on balance the action sets a bad precedent and broadcasts the wrong message to the public. Today it is a stabbing. Tomorrow it could be a kidnapping, and certainly murder is not out of the question. In my view as a Boston defense lawyer, the courts should not broadcast that they can not be manipulated or that the judicial process can be derailed with ever more violence.