Articles Posted in General

I was interviewed by the Boston Globe yesterday about the testimony that unfolded before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee surrounding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Before going any further, I’m going to say something very sincerely, and I want my readers to know that mean it 100 per cent: I have all the sympathy, and yes, empathy, for anyone who advances a credible, believable claim of sexual abuse, indecent assault & battery, or rape by another person.  Man or woman.  Young or old.   Any background whatsoever.   But when such accusations are made, and the accused’s life and welfare are on the line – never mind the stakes involved in the instant matter with the Supreme Court such accusations must be supported by persuasive, compelling testimony produced by the critical procedural element of cross-examination. If not, they remain what we have here, now: Uncorroborated accusations.

Let me also get something else – something very important – out of the way now: I direct this specific comment to the radical elements of the #MeToo movement, who denigrate and assassinate the characters and motives of anyone who dares to disagree with them, or call into question their motives about matters involving allegations of sexual abuse:  Such people are immediately maligned by militant feminists as being fossilized, backward thinking relics of 50+ years ago – the intellectual and social equivalents of knuckle-dragging troglodytes. And one word never spared in their attacks on anyone who has the audacity to disagree with them?  “Misogynist”, of course.  (“Women-hater” is often thrown in for good measure.)  To those militants I say:  Save it – That won’t work with me. That’s because I see people as gender-neutral. I don’t judge people based on gender, or ethnicity, or anything else other than their deeds and actions; in the words of MLK, “The content of their character.”  Trite, isn’t it? But I happen to firmly believe in that ideal.

Dr. Christine Blase Ford gave some emotionally riveting testimony yesterday. From my distance, it seems quite possible that something happened to her in her past, involving some kind of sexual assault. And if that is so, anyone with any decency, compassion or empathy would feel for her. But amidst all the drama raised by her testimony, here are facts that collectively pose inescapable problems with her testimony:

Anyone who reads a newspaper, surfs the internet of listens to radio, knows about the overflow of legitimacy, ethics and personnel problems inside the Massachusetts State Police.

Now, before loyalists and aficionados of the state police get all worked up that I’m “attacking” or “dumping on” the state police, I’m not. I have known and now know several honest, ethical, productive state troopers, as well as administrative personnel who work for the state police. But something is wrong at this agency, and there’s no denying it.

Just a few of the revelations staining the department in the past few months:

Thinking about Halloween this past weekend, brought me back to when I was a kid growing up in Brookline, Mass. People decorated their homes with pretty standard Halloween stuff: Gravestones that say “RIP,” ghosts hanging from trees, spider webs, and pumpkins. For all of my life, these are the kinds of things that signified Halloween. Scary? Hardly. But these things have always been associated with Halloween, and they always did the trick. Little more was needed.

That’s why, as a Boston, Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer, I’m appalled – and disgusted to be more exact – at how the commercial Halloween haunted house business has grown to a billion-dollar a year business, and how it goes to extremes to attract customers.

Live-actor displays involving:

I defend people accused of crimes. Some of those crimes involve drunk driving. A surprisingly high number of those arrests can be remarkably benign and legally unjustified, and in those cases I am proud to fight my hardest to bring out the facts and to defend my client’s legal, constitutional rights. Almost all the time, no one is injured in these cases, and the persons that I represent are not low-life social reprobates.

But if you’re in the mood for an outrage-inducing legal story, read on. Just be ready to spit nails in anger or disgust. I wouldn’t blame you if you did.

The bare facts: Drunken driving case. Four people killed. Horribly grieving victims left forever more without their loved ones. Nine people injured. Two gravely; one so gravely he cannot move or talk due to brain injuries suffered in the carnage. He probably never will; his fate is in a way worse than death: Completely paralyzed, he can apparently communicate only by blinking his eyes to signal “yes” and no.”

What is wrong with people in this country and in this state, that they won’t get the message that texting and smartphone use while behind the wheel, is a death wish? I’ve asked that question so many times that I’ve lost count, because no matter how much carnage occurs on the roads due to distracted driving in Massachusetts, and what laws are passed, people just can’t seem to put these foolish things – that were originally invented to make our lives easier, but which in fact have taken ourselves over like some kind of addiction – down while driving.

As a Boston, Massachusetts distracted driving lawyer, I’ve seen too many examples of Massachusetts motor vehicle accidents caused by texting and driving. Many of the injuries that result from texting and driving accidents are extremely serious. The motorists who pass by the scenes of these accidents gawk with typical curiosity, but does it cause them to change their own behavior? Shockingly, almost never. Perhaps one of those onlookers has been you?

An estimate by the National Safety Council claims that over 213,000 car accidents in the U.S. in 2011 involved texting while driving, 53,000 higher than in 2010. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly a third of Americans had either e-mailed or texted on while they were driving in a one month period. Many think they’ll get away with it unscathed and unharmed. Many more are wrong — dead wrong.

In my last post on this subject, I wrote of the literally unbelievable torture intentionally inflicted on an innocent dog, named Puppy Doe by the Animal Rescue League doctors and volunteers that tried, to no avail, to salvage its broken body and life. Police investigators have so far discovered that the female puppy was sold by its original owner on Craigs List, after the owner was reportedly told by her landlord that she could not keep a pit bull in the apartment she was renting. So, what did she do? Reportedly sold the dog on Craigs List. Except that she didn’t know who she was selling to or what their background was.

Horrifically, the buyer was a monster that happened to look human. Unimaginably, it was the sole intent of the buyer – some sick, twisted sub-human animal or animals – to buy the dog for the specific purpose of torturing it. What was done to this dog over at least the next two months was so horrific, that words cannot describe it. Doctors at Boston’s Animal Rescue League described a dog that had been intentionally starved down from a normal weight of 40 lbs. to less than 18 lbs. The animal had several broken bones, all over its body. Its skull had been perforated. Its nose had been repeatedly burned by cigars or cigarettes. Its tongue had been sliced apart to resemble a serpent’s. It’s limbs had actually been drawn and quartered, in medieval fashion, as though it had been torn apart on a rack. Veterinarians treating the dog described this case as “the worst they have ever seen.

Like me, you must be shaking right now, unable to imagine the twisted scum that would do this: The sociopathic, psychopathic garbage that would do anything even resembling any of this nightmare, made real. You must be asking yourself, “What in God’s name could cause anyone to do such things? How could any human being do this?”

People across Massachusetts, and even the nation, are collectively appalled and sickened by what has become known as the “Puppy Doe” case here. For readers who don’t yet know, a dog was found on a roadside in Quincy, Massachusetts on August 31, barely alive. The female dog, estimated to be a little more than one year old, weighed about one-half of its normal weight, and was near death.

But when the dog was brought to the Animal Rescue League of Boston, that was nowhere near the horror that was to be discovered by veterinarians there. This poor animal had suffered multiple broken bones as well as multiple burns to her nose and stab wounds to her eye. The barbaric animals who did this to this innocent creature, didn’t stop there. It appears they actually cut her tongue, in a sadism-filled, barbaric attempt to create a serpent or snake-like split in her tongue. When they were “done” with his poor animal, they dumped her on the side of a road. Ultimately, the dog could not be saved due to this torture, and had to be euthanized.

After this story broke, people from across the United States began thinking of ways that they could help in efforts to locate these sick beings who committed this heinous act of pure sadism. The Animal Rescue League of Boston received 500 calls as of Saturday (September 21) from callers wanting to know how they could help in the search for the criminals who did this to this innocent animal. In response, yesterday the Animal Rescue League posted a $5,000 reward for information in the case. I was just one of many people across the U.S. who have donated to this reward fund. I urge all my readers to do so, and anyone wishing to donate to the reward fund should visit: www.arlboston.kintera.org/puppydoe.

The world lost a brilliant mind a week ago today, when Aaron Swartz, the 26 year-old internet prodigy who at age 14 invented the ubiquitous internet feed RSS, as well as internet company Reddit, took his own life. Swartz was no “average person,” but an internet prodigy and genius who was gifted with the kind of genius rarely found in the world, on the level of a Steve Jobs.

While we may never know the precise reason or reasons that Swartz ended his life, to borrow the term genius here, it doesn’t take any kind of genius to see the causal relationship between Swartz’ suicide and his prosecution – many say persecution – by the Boston office of the U.S. Attorney’s office, headed by Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz. The media and the twitter sphere have been abuzz for seven days now about what has widely been called an overzealous prosecution of Swartz by Ortiz’ office. Despite a blog post written by a George Washington University Law professor which argued that no prosecutorial overreach occurred – which somewhat curiously and conveniently appeared 72 hours after Swartz’s death – the overriding consensus now appears to be that Ortiz’ office was far too aggressive and unyielding against this young man, who tangibly hurt no one.

This conclusion includes the editorial board of The Boston Globe, who wrote on today’s editorial page, “In piling on 13 charges and thereby threatening Swartz with up to 35 years in prison, Ortiz’s office went way, way too far.” Equally disturbing is the fact that Ortiz and her deputy prosecutors were made well aware of Swartz’ vulnerable mental health status – that his genius was tragically co-occupied by depression, and that the stress of this wildly over-charged case was bearing down on him heavily. Boston attorney Andy Good, who was one of three lawyers who at various stages represented Swartz, told the Boston Globe that he warned the deputy prosecutor handling the Swartz case of his client’s vulnerable mental health status. Atty. Good told the Globe’s Kevin Cullen, “The thing that galls me is that I told (Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen) Heymann the kid was a suicide risk,” “His reaction was a standard reaction in that office, not unique to Steve. He said, ‘Fine, we’ll lock him up.”

Surrounding all of the very necessary legal reactions to the scandal surrounding the Massachusetts state drug lab – centrally, the need to ensure that defendants who were convicted through drug samples handled by lab suspect Annie Dookhan receive the necessary legal review of their cases – one glaring omission seems to be occurring.

The trial court system in Massachusetts has for a long time been bursting at the seams with enormous case loads. The civil dockets are extremely busy, and the criminal dockets grow exponentially every year. To try and process these cases in an average workday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, is already a Herculean task that few people outside the court system can appreciate. Now, out of the blue, this drug lab scandal has fallen in the laps of prosecutors, judges, and the Trial Court administrators who manage the courts every day. It’s been estimated that possibly tens of thousands of cases may need to be re-brought before courts in Massachusetts – most of them in the Boston area and eastern Massachusetts – just to review and handle these drug cases, alone. It’s an incredibly burdensome challenge to manage.

As a Dedham, Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, I see it every day in courts across eastern Massachusetts. The Administrative Office of The Trial Court, which is the state agency that manages the day-to-day operations of the state’s trial courts, has assigned special judges to hear the massive amount of these drug cases that require review and possible re-trial.

If you’ve never been arrested, chances are you don’t fully understand what a plea bargain is and when and if one might be used to your advantage after being arrested. Understanding strategic issues like this will assist in your defense by any Norfolk County criminal defense lawyer that you may hire.

In essence, a plea bargain, which is formally called a “Tender of Plea” or informally a plea agreement, is an agreement in a Massachusetts criminal case between the defendant’s attorney and the particular District Attorney’s Office that is prosecuting the case. Under such an agreement, the defendant agrees to either plead guilty to, or to not contest a specific criminal count(s) in exchange for some type of concession from the prosecutor. What this typically means is that the defendant typically pleads guilty or “Admits To Sufficient Facts” to a less serious crime(s) than the one(s) he was originally charged with. An “Admission To Sufficient Facts” is also called a plea entry of “Continued Without A Finding,” or “CWOF.” When a CWOF is agreed to, it means that the defendant essentially admits that the District Attorney’s Office has sufficient evidence against the defendant that, if the case were to go to trial, the prosecution would be able to prove the charges against the defendant.

When a criminal defense attorney advises a client to enter such a plea agreement, it is almost certainly done because the attorney does not feel that a trial is likely to result in a finding of not guilty by either a jury or judge. These plea agreements are employed when the prosecution’s evidence against the defendant is so strong that a trial on the merits is not legally advisable. In such instances, the defendant can receive a strategic benefit: In exchange for his plea bargain, the defendant receives either a reduction in the charges against him, a recommendation from the prosecutor for a more lenient sentence, or dismissal of additional charges that were originally brought against the defendant. For example, a criminal defendant who is charged with a felony that carries a state prison sentence upon conviction – for example, Grand Theft Larceny in Massachusetts – might be offered the chance to plead guilty to a less serious misdemeanor theft charge instead. The upside here? The misdemeanor conviction may not require a jail term.