Toll Free (877) 721-4732
Phone (617) 206-1942


Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network.
To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 206-1942.

January 21, 2015

SUPPRESSION HEARING IN MURDER CASE CONTINUES IN SALEM SUPERIOR COURT

Friday, the hearing continues in Salem Superior Court. It is a hearing on a motion to suppress statements in the murder case of Philip Chism (hereinafter, the "Defendant"). The Defendant has been charged with the rape and murder of Danvers teacher Colleen Ritzer.

The hearing began last week and we began discussing the matter in terms of Constitutional Rights, Miranda and the making of statements to law enforcement while in custody.

The defendant is claiming that both he and his mother attempted to invoke is right to counsel and that, under the circumstances, law enforcement did not adhere to their duty to comply. As a result, the defense claims that any statements he made where in voluntary and so should not be able to be used by the Commonwealth at trial.

Last Friday, the Commonwealth began putting up it's police witnesses to testify about their interaction with the defendant and his mother. Basically, They allege that when the first officer came into contact with the defendant, that officer was merely interested in him because he had been reported missing. He claimed that he had no idea of the killing At that time. Shortly thereafter, another officer entered the scene. The Defendant apparently made statements indicating that he may have been involved in a theft. Between that statement and the fact that the defendant was acting oddly, the officers asked him to empty his pockets "for their own safety".

This led to the discovery of the bloody blade allegedly used in the murder.

These factors led to the Defendant being brought to one police station and then another. During this time, the defendant made various statements and, at some point, was read his Miranda rights. Police officers also reached out to the Defendant's mother in hopes to get her to help get a statement from the 14-year-old Defendant.

The hearing was continued as the mother was described as making various statements which caused even more suspicion to be cast on her son.

Attorney Sam's Take On "Custody"

“Hey, Sam, if the police did not read the Defendant his Miranda rights when they took him into custody, doesn’t the case get dismissed?”

No. This is a common misunderstanding. The Miranda rights only really come into play when a statement is made by a suspect. If the Commonwealth wants to use the statement at trial, then it has to show that the statement was not coerced by the police. Step one in that evaluation is whether the suspect was given his or her Miranda rights.

Depending on the case, though, the potential for suppression goes much further. For example, if a suspect makes a statement and the court determines that that statement was not voluntary, then anything that the statement leads to directly also has to be suppressed.

In the Defendant’s case, he ended up making a statement that his victim was in the woods. The police went to the woods and foundthe body. Let’s assume for the moment that the court finds that the police would not have inevitably found the body without the statement anyway. Then, most likely, the statement and discovery of the body would be suppressed. In this case, of course, it is more likely that the body would have been discovered, so the argument is a bit weaker. However, if the Defendant added that he has narcotics in his bedroom, and that statement is found to be involuntary, the statement and the drugs will likely be suppressed.

However, there is an important concept here which many people overlook. In order for the police to have to give Miranda rights and for the statements to be seen as involuntary, the suspect has to be in “custody”.

This is the issue whereat most of the battle in suppression hearings focus.

“What do you mean? If the police grab you, then you are in custody, right?”

Well, not to be Clinton-esqe, but it depends what you mean by “grab”.

As I mentioned above, this hearing will continue this coming Friday. Let’s use the descriptions made at the hearing to illustrate this point and how complicated it can be. We will continue the subject matter after said testimony.

In the meantime, you may want to check out the blog-posts in the below-listed links to review the testimony given last Friday.


For the original stories upon this blog was based, please go to http://www.boston.com/news/education/2015/01/09/lawyer-teen-coerced-into-confessing-teacher-murder/zbb8h0E4Y2YOoUDRZ1LsUP/story.html and http://www.salemnews.com/news/live-blog-motion-to-suppress-hearing-in-chism-murder-case/article_ba99ec72-9823-11e4-9b09-dbba6015eb81.html

January 9, 2015

SALEM SUPERIOR COURT SUPPRESSION HEARING BEGINS IN RAPE AND MURDER CASE

You may remember Philip Chism (hereinafter, the “defendant”). He is the 15-year-old juvenile who has been charged as an adult with the rape and murder of 24-year-old Danvers High School teacher Colleen Ritzer in 2013.

Today, the Defendant’s case is on the calendar again at Salem Superior Court. The issue of the day is suppression. The court is holding a hearing on the motion as I write today’s blog.

The defense is seeking to suppress alleged inculpatory statements made by the Defendant to law enforcement. The Defendant’s attorney argues that the police coerced him into waiving his Miranda Rights and making detailed statements about the murder.

The grounds apparently include that police never properly read the Defendant the Rights and also continued to question him even after he had invoked his right to remain silent and his mother had asked for a lawyer.

Additionally, the Defendant’s motion contends police pressured the Defendant’s mother into helping them get a confession out of her son while he was handcuffed in a police interrogation room.

According to the Commonwealth, the Defendant followed Ms. Ritzer into the girl’s bathroom after school, raped her and ‘‘repeatedly asphyxiated her before or while assaulting her with a box cutter.’’

The prosecution also alleges that the Defendant then put her mutilated body in a recycling bin and dumped it in the woods after taking her cellphone, which he destroyed, and her wallet, which he used a credit card from to buy fast food and attend a movie at the mall later that day. according to prosecutors.

The Defendant has pleaded not guilty to those charges as well as to attempted murder and other charges stemming from an assault on a Department of Youth Services worker while in custody pending trial on the murder case.

Attorney Sam's Take On The Issue Of Making Statements To Law Enforcement

We have discussed statements made to law enforcement many times and from various vantage points.

For example, I have suggested that in most cases, when confronted by law enforcement, it is best not to attempt outfighting , outrunning or out-talking them. These are generally exercises in which a bad situation becomes worse.

Sometimes even deadly.

There are limits, however. If the officer is taking “pedigree” information, such as name or date of birth, you should answer. I hasten to add that you should not lie about these specifics. The truth will come out and, again, you will have made a bad situation worse.

But that is basically where it ends.

Questions about potential crimes you have committed are way beyond that and, again generally, it is best not to respond except to ask to talk to your attorney first.

Even the best of statements have a way of getting changed around a bit when they have to be committed to a police report.

You have the right to remain silent, as well as to confer with counsel and whatever you say will be used against you in court. If you think that sounds an awful lot like the Miranda Rights, you are correct. In essence that is what they are all about.

Still, after being told these warnings, some folks figure that their golden tongues will convince the police that they are as innocent as a newborn. Maybe they even are innocent.

It is still usually a bad idea to go it alone.

In any event, when a suspect is in custody, the police must advise him or her as to these Rights. It also has to be in a meaningful way. For example, I have had cases where the Rights are read, in English to a suspect who does not really speak English. The suspect did not really understand what the detective was talking about but smiled and simply nodded in agreement to all the questions.

Clearly, that is not good enough.

In the Defendant’s case, there are other issues involved. Not the least of these issues are the Defendant’s age and whether he actually requested a lawyer.

Lets look at what happens at the this hearing…

On my next blog.

In the meantime, have a great, safe and law abiding weekend!

For the full stories upon which this blog is based, please go to: http://www.boston.com/news/education/2015/01/09/lawyer-teen-coerced-into-confessing-teacher-murder/zbb8h0E4Y2YOoUDRZ1LsUP/story.html and http://www.salemnews.com/news/live-blog-motion-to-suppress-hearing-in-chism-murder-case/article_ba99ec72-9823-11e4-9b09-dbba6015eb81.html

January 8, 2015

“PHASE ONE” OF BOSTON’S FEDERAL COURT MULTI-MURDER TRIAL CONTINUES: WHAT IS THIS JURY SELECTION ALL ABOUT?

“Phase One” of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 21, hereinafter, the “Defendant” ‘s jury trial for, among other things, multiple murder continues in Boston’s Federal District Court. The Defendant is accused of carrying out bombings with his now-deceased brother near the finish line of the race on April 15, 2013. Three people were killed in the bombing. More than 260 others were injured. Also, the Defendant stands charged with the killing of an MIT police officer days after the bombings. His brother died in connection with that killing.

Our representatives desire to have the Defendant join with his brother. While some might have expected the matter to be tried in state court, it is being brought to trial in federal court.

The reason is fairly simple. Massachusetts’ state criminal justice system does not have a death penalty. The federal criminal justice system does.

Since the government has announced that it is seeking the death penalty should the Defendant be convicted, the Defendant’s lawyers and federal prosecutors spend days reviewing more than 37,800 pages of juror questionnaires before individual questioning begins on January 15th. Twelve jurors and six alternates will be chosen over three weeks. Then, it is expected that “Phase One” starts with a flourish. The judge told prospective jurors that he expects the trial to begin with opening statements on January 26th.

Attorney Sam’s Take On The Jury Selection Procedure

The procedure of jury selection differs between jurisdictions and types of crimes. However, while some of the specifics differ, the basic process and importance remains the same.

After all, it is the jury which will decide the facts in the case in a jury trial. In a criminal case, the jury must be unanimous in order to reach a verdict. Otherwise, there is a “hung jury”. The unfortunate name merely means that the jurors were unable to unanimously agree whether a defendant has been proven to be guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

In the case of a hung jury, the parties will have to decide whether they can come to an agreed upon result or else the case goes to trial again.

Basically, the same status quo as before the trial.

“What is the general procedure? Why is it going to take so long? The jury selection in my state case took less than an hour!”

Yes, but this case is different in many respects.

Jury selection in Massachusetts state courts is a fairly quack, particularly in district court cases which are non-sex-oriented. Presently, the judge asks the jury panel some general questions, as well as, perhaps, some questions the attorneys submit to the court, and then the attorneys pick the jury. Each side gets a small number of “pre-emptory challenges”. Such challenges mean simply that the party does not want a particular prospective juror without having to say why.

There are generally very few of these per party.

Challenges to jurors can also be done for “cause”. These types of charges, which are unlimited, basically submit to the court that there is no question but that the potential juror cannot be fair and impartial.

These have to be argued and are usually hard to get.

Since there are so few potential challenges, the process goes pretty fast. It is a process of elimination…not, as many assume a process of picking your favorite potential jurors.

In more serious cases, each side gets more pre-emptories. In federal court, the number of pre-emptories differs from the number in state court.

Next, you have the jurors who either cannot or do not want to serve for the trial. When it comes time for the judge if there is any “other” reason they cannot serve, there is often a long line of potential jurors ready to come up and plead their case as to why they should not serve.

Again, the longer the line, the longer the time.

In the Defendant’s case, it is a high profile and very emotional case. Regardless of how many pre-emptor challenges there are, you may be sure that there will be many challenges for cause and, particularly given the amount of time involved, many jurors looking for the proverbial exit.

The selection will be further complicated because the jury may be called upon to serve during “Phase Two”, the penalty phase.

That will be the phase in which, if there is a conviction, whether the penalty should be prison or death.

There are a number of potential jurors who will clearly have to be excluded from serving. First, as Professor Ira Robbins of American University’s College of Law points out, are those who are categorically opposed to the death penalty. These folks would not be able to fairly serve in “Phase Two” and, if it would influence their decision regarding guilt, “Phase One”. One would imagine that any potential jurors who lost loved ones or saw loved ones injured at the bombing would be excused. Further, because the court has refused to move the case, there may be many folks who were actually present during ether the bombing or the aftermath.

Potential witnesses really cannot be considered fair and impartial jurors.

One final complication. An issue for appeal in the case already exists as to whether the Defendant can receive a fair and impartial trial in Boston. The court will likely be very sensitive to this issue during jury selection. After all, if there is a conviction, which many expect, whether the jury was truly impartial could be an issue which overturns such a conviction.

Then we may get to go through this whole thing again!

As mentioned in my last blog. Kinda makes you wonder if it wouldn’t have been worth moving the trial if not simply to avoid that issue…!

But, then, I am sure that those dressed in black robes are much more knowledgeable and intelligent than I.

To review the story upon which this blog is based, please go to http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/things-jury-selection-tsarnaev-trial-28062420 and
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/boston-bombing-trial-dzhokhar-tsarnaev-begins-jury-selection-n277561

January 5, 2015

EXTREMELY HIGH PROFILE MULTI-MURDER TRIAL BEGINS “PHASE ONE” IN BOSTON’S FEDERAL DISTRICT COURT

…And so it begins.

A new year. A new high profile multi-murder, among other criminal charges of course, trial.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) is having what will serve as his “day in court”.

As you will no doubt recall, the Defendant is charged with the terror attack near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon. He has pleaded not guilty. His older brother, Tamerlan, is also accused in the crimes. He is not on trial as he died in a shootout with police.

His trial began today in a federal courthouse less than two miles from where two bombs, concealed in backpacks, exploded with devastating force.

Defense efforts had already failed on two accounts.

Defense attorneys argued that the trial should be moved out of the city of Boston. Denied.

The defense argued that they needed more time to prepare for trial. Denied.

Today, Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. began the process of voice dire…aka jury selection.

The Defendant, 21 of age, is charged with 30 criminal counts in the April 2013 bombings, which killed three people and injured 260 others, as well as the murder of an MIT campus police officer, Sean Collier, a few days after the bomb attack.

In order to, hopefully, not run out of potential jurors, the court summoned 3,000 people to the federal courthouse on Boston's inner harbor. Over the next three days, at least 1,200 potential jurors are expected to fill out questionnaires. Thus begins the process…at least for this "First Phase" of the trial.

Judge O'Toole has Ordered that individual questioning of prospective jurors would begin on January 15th. Further, opening statements are expected to take place around January 26th.

The trial is expected to last three or four months.

Since shortly after the bombings, the Defendant has been held at Federal Medical Center Devens, a prison facility on a decommissioned U.S. Army base about 40 miles west of Boston.

Speaking of armed bases…the federal court seemed to resemble one today from what I have heard.

Between the events of the bombing, terrorism and police/citizen incidents of recent note, it is no surprise that security is a big concern.



Attorney Sam’s Take On “Phase One” Jury Selection

“Sam, what is all this about ‘Phase One’?”

“Phase One” is the type of trial most of us are used to. It concerns the question of guilty vs. no guilty of the Defendant. In other words, is the Defendant guilty as charged. “Phase Two” in the case is the penalty phase as the government is seeking the death penalty should there be a conviction.

“Yes, but he has not been convicted yet.”

Yes, how about that? It would seem, however, that everyone is treating that as a mere formality. News accounts, lawyers and the like seem to think a conviction is inevitable.

At least, the folks you ask around here. Hmm, might that be a sign that the case should have been moved? Well, that’s an issue for another day. That day is commonly called “the appeal”.

“But what if he is found to be not guilty?”

Then, clearly, there will be no “Phase Two” of the trial. There also will not be an appeal.

“So…what goes on in jury selection and why does it take so long?”

Well, let’s discuss that in my next blog.


To review the story upon which this blog is based, please go to
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/crime-courts/boston-bombing-trial-dzhokhar-tsarnaev-begins-jury-selection-n277561

December 23, 2014

SPRINGFIELD LAW ENFORCEMENT OVERJOYED IN SPREADING SELF-CONGRATULATIONS…AND DANGER…IN RECENT DRUG CASES

As I am writing this blog, the latest count is 380.

That would be 380 people enjoying and commenting on the happy news of Friday’s drug bust in Springfield. Holiday cheer abounds!

The comments are insightful and important too.

Take Kay Thomas’ commentary for example. She observed:

“Man ya so much on these cops giving them credit First how do the Drugs get here ourown government so get it right”.

Paul Lunt’s observations were short and sweet.

“Saweeeet!”

Mike Hawley gave his advice…

“One raid at a time , thats how ya do it SPD ... good job guys!”

On the other hand, Don Mei Jr. was more concerned with the future…

“So when you recover firearms like this, in this case a very nice $2000 Colt Python revolver. Do you just crush them. Or do you try to trace them back to their original owners so they can be returned? (assuming they are stolen)”

Other concerned citizens were more concerned with the photograph posted of Jason Arias (hereinafter, the “Defendant”). For example, Robert Wojtczak wondered,

“Is that a Bluetooth or a hearing aid?”

Melissa Johnson and Amanda Manzi simple offered their opinions,

“Wtf” and “Eww what's on his ear” (Respectively).

These folks, and many more, were reacting to the facebook posting of the Defendant’s arrest and resulting seizure of drugs and guns. As mentioned yesterday, the Springfield Police Department’s Sgt. John Delaney makes these posts as part of his cleverly-named “full justice press”.

As part of his efforts to “worry” drug dealers, he posted the bust as follows:

Huge Drug Arrest in Springfield … War Against Drugs Goes On (good guys are winning in Springfield) -

At 8:00 P.M. this evening the Springfield Police Departments Narcotics Unit under the direction of Lt. Alberto Ayala and the Street Crime Unit Under the direction of Lt. Robert Tardiff culminated a lengthy investigation into drug trafficking in the City of Springfield with one arrest and a huge seizure of Cocaine and Heroin.

The Detectives investigated large amounts of Coke and Heroin being sold and kept for sale at 17 Chase Avenue in Springfield. The target of the investigation was a Jason Arias age 31 of that address. Detective Gregg Bigda of the Narcotics Unit was the lead investigator in the case and worked tirelessly getting enough evidence to apply for and receive a Search Warrant for that address.
The raid team gathered and entered the address without incident. The target of the investigation was home when the police officers raided and searched the second and third floor.

Next came a listing of all the evidence seized, photographs of the cache and the Defendant and finally ended with the observation:


Police Commissioner John Barbieri was notified about the drug raid and praised the Narcotics Unit for their hard work these past two months by arresting numerous high level drug dealers and taking hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of illegal narcotics off the streets of Springfield. Commissioner Barbieri’s plan to put a “full court press” on drug dealers and making life uncomfortable them is in full effect. Commissioner Barbieri stated that more arrests are to follow and the war on drugs in Springfield is being won … one arrest at a time.

When drug dealers are arrested crime goes down in the city so does the crime rate. There is a 20% drop in the crime rate in Springfield these last months and taking drugs off the streets helps that statistic dramatically.

Attorney Sam’s Take On The Prosecutorial Celebration

Yes, it would appear that it is a very jolly holiday in Springfield and law enforcement is getting what appears to be a well deserved pat on the back.

I hate to be Attorney Scrooge here, but I have a couple of concerns as to the wisdom of the party.

For example, I seem to remember concerns mentioned by law enforcement about the dangers of the drug trade. Murder-type dangers.

For example, there are turf wars. So, assuming that the taking out of this particular alleged drug lair is significant, then a vacuum now appears. Often, this results in turf battles to claim the area.

The Defendant sure seems to have a great deal of evidence piled against him. You know, often, the prosecution manages to “turn” such a person so that, in order to get a better deal, he cooperates with the government.

On the street, and in custody, such a person is called a “snitch”.

Snitches are often targeted by those who would prefer he not cooperate with law enforcement.

Again, Murder-type of targeting.

Wouldn’t it be neat if the Springfield Police Department did not make it so easy for such targeting and difficult for the Defendant (and his family) to stay safe? Wouldn’t it be keen if the prosecutors and jail did not necessarily have to take on the extra onus this brings on keeping the guy safe?

On the other hand, such publicity can be helpful to others to whom one might think law enforcement might not want to help. For example, others who are facing heavy criminal charges and might just want to take all this specified information to invent “evidence” of their own that they can exchange with the Defendant’s prosecutors in order for some consideration.

Even if it does not work, no harm in trying, right? After all, when was the last time you saw the Commonwealth a potential Commonwealth witness for lying on behalf of the Commonwealth?

And then…there are those pesky criminal defense attorneys.

Folks like us have a way, if we know what we are doing, of noticing such events and wondering how the celebration might effect our clients’ right to a fair trial. Undue public knowledge about a given case can tend to effect that.

So, with all these considerations which simply leapt into my brain upon reading this particular story, and the level of dangers to life, limb and fair trials, is it really such a great idea to be going to this extent in order to feel good about having done one’s job?

Well, of course, there is that stated goal about bringing “worry” and “fear” into the lives of the Defendant and those like him.

But, then, you could just burn down their homes and beat up their families…that might produce those results too.

Just sayin’.

In the meantime, though, have a great, safe and law-abiding Christmas weekend!

To review the stories upon which this blog is based, please go to
http://www.manewsfeed.com/springfield/cocaine-heroin-seized-in-major-drug-bust/ and
https://m.facebook.com/617763834951047/photos/pb.617763834951047.-2207520000.1419355171./829747363752692/?type=1&source=54

December 23, 2014

SPRINGFIELD MAN IS ARRESTED IN DRUG BUST WHICH YIELDED WEAPONS AND DRUGS VALUED OVER $300,000

Springfield's Jason Arias, 31 and hereinafter, the "Defendant" did not have a particularly good weekend.

He went into custody since he was the subject of a raid Friday night.

It was a rather successful drug bust for law enforcement. It reportedly resulted in the seizure of guns, cash, and a stash of narcotics valued at upwards of $300,000.

At 8 p.m., police raided the Chase Avenue home of the Defendant, the target of a lengthy drug trafficking investigation by the city’s Street Crime and Narcotics Units. He was home during the raid, which was conducted without incident, according to a statement by Springfield Police Department.

Police say they seized more than 10 pounds of “pure cocaine,” 2,700 bags of heroin, two pounds of marijuana, two handguns, $58,000 in cash, and paraphernalia used to pack and weigh illegal drugs.

And so it was that the Defendant spent the weekend as an involuntary guest of the Commonwealth. He faces various charges, including possession of a firearm while committing a felony, possession of ammunition, two counts of carrying a firearm, trafficking in cocaine (over 200 grams), and trafficking in heroin.

He was expected to face those charges in Sprngfield District Court. Soon thereafter, we can expect to see the matter moved up to Superior Court.

In a department-congratulatory statement, Sergeant John Delaney said, “the war on drugs in Springfield is being won ... one arrest at a time.” Commissioner John Barbieri, who has led a “full court press” on drug dealers in the city, noted that more arrests are to come.

The department has reported a 20 percent drop in crime in the city over the past several months, partially as a result of this crackdown.

The "full court press", incidently, includes a rather new scare tactic.

The always colorful Springfield Police Department Facebook page, run by Sgt. Delaney from the Office of Public Information, has been championing what it calls a “War On Heroin.” The page features six heroin-related posts since Sept. 26 and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down.

While the cyber-level attacks on alleged drug dealers are not slowing down, neither are the actual street level attacks. In the last two weeks, the Springfield police have arrested 12 alleged heroin dealers, taken more than 3,000 bags of the drug along with $18,603 in cash, and enforced at least 40 drug-related charges. And they won’t stop bragging about it on Facebook.

Here are some of the highlights.


From Sept. 30:

Surveillance officers set up a surveillance at the park at 2:00 P.M. yesterday because they received information that a female known as “Beba” had set up shop inside the park and was selling bags of Heroin that she had stashed in her bra. The officers watched as she sold two bags of Heroin to approaching customers, each time she retrieved the bags from inside the area of her bra. The officers moved into the park and arrested “Beba” as she still had money in her hands. A female police officer searched her person and found a plastic baggie filled with rice and 13 bags of Heroin.
From Oct. 1:

Winning the War on Heroin, One Arrest at a Time … this was a big one … Narcotics Officers under the direction of Lt. Alberto Ayala & Sgt. Phil Tarpey took one Heroin dealer and 1,450 bags of Heroin off the street. At 4:45 P.M. the detectives culminated a three week investigation yesterday by arresting a Jose Blanco age 26 after they observed him traveling in his black Honda CRV about to make a large Heroin delivery near the park located at Spring and Pearl Street ... This was a great arrest taking a supplier of Heroin that delivers this deadly drug to street dealers throughout Western Massachusetts. The war continues …. dealer beware!

From Oct. 2:

On Wednesday, October 1st at 11:00 A.M. Lt. Charlie Cook, Sgt. Phil Tarpey and detectives of the Narcotics Division conducted a drug raid at 71 Oak Grove Avenue in the City’s Mason Square area and arrested six Heroin dealers ... The officers were greeted by six individuals that were targets of the investigation inside the home. Some of the subjects were still sleeping. The officers handcuffed and secured all the dealers inside the house and conducted a search ... The officers stated that the dwelling cluttered and not livable for humans. The detectives called the Ordinance Unit and Code Enforcement Officers and the dwelling was condemned, thus ending the Heroin distribution dwelling in the Oak Grove Ave. neighborhood ... This was a great arrest getting more Heroin Dealers off the street and solving a problem in the Mason Square neighborhood. The Heroin War continues daily … Drug Dealers Beware.

And, finally, this warning from the ending of the latest post on Oct. 3:

Commissioner John Barbieri has vowed to make it very uncomfortable for Heroin dealers to survive in the City of Springfield. This “full court press” against ALL Heroin dealers in Springfield will continue. The war rages on and we ARE taking prisoners. Drug dealers beware. Springfield is now that much safer with each arrest.

The posts, combined, have been liked more than 500 times. So if you’re selling heroin in Springfield, be sure to smile for your mug shot. It’s going to end up on Facebook.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Prosecutorial Ethics And The Right To A Fair Trial (Part One)

It's always fun to boast when you feel you've done a good job, isn't it?

The thing is, though, sometimes it is rather unseemly.

Or inappropriate.

Or even dangerous.

Lets continue with this in my next blog.

To review the stories upon which this blog is based, please go to:
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2014/12/20/springfield-police-seize-guns-drugs-worth-raid/AZQPtr3BJPcsPWPJomFjYO/story.html and
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2014/10/07/you-selling-heroin-springfield-the-police-will-find-you-and-post-about-facebook/mRkaBhmIhEN8dM7Lq6ORkN/story.html?p1=related_article_page

December 22, 2014

EXPECT MASSACHUSETTS LAW ENFORCEMENT TO BE EXTRA CAUTIOUS DUE TO POLICE MURDERS THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

This past weekend was a bad one for law enforcement. In two different states, police officers were murdered by suspects.

In Brooklyn, New York, two police officers were sitting in their patrol car when a man who officials claim had come from Baltimore vowing to kill police officers made good that vow.

He had made statements on social media suggesting that he planned to kill police officers and was angered about the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases.

He is said to have shot the two officers and then committed suicide with the same gun.

The two officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, were killed on the scene after the gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, assumed a firing stance outside the passenger window and shot several rounds into the officers’ heads and upper bodies.

The officers never drew their weapons.

New York law enforcement indicate that the shooting on Saturday seemed reminiscent of decades past, when the city was mired in an epidemic of drugs and violence and, in 1988, a police officer was shot while he sat alone in his patrol car guarding the home of a man who had testified in a drug case.

As someone who was a prosecutor in Brooklyn at that time, I can tell you that it was not the only police officer killed in the line of duty.

The national weekend did not get much better.

On Sunday, in Pinellas County, Florida, 23-year-old Marco Antonio Parilla Jr. was being approached by police officers. He was being approached by officers because they had a received a noise complaint. The noise complaint apparently was the result of Mr. Parilla’s banging on doors in the community looking for a neighbor who he said had “dimed him out.”

Apparently, Parilla was accompanied by a woman who had remained in the car.

At the time law enforcement arrived, the woman began backing out of the driveway. Police Officer Kondek arrived, exited his vehicle and began to walk toward Mr. Parilla. In response, Parilla opened fire on the officer. He fired multiple rounds at the officer, striking him once above his bullet-proof vest.

Officer Kondek was able to draw his weapon and managed to return fire just before he fell to the ground.

According to law enforcement, Parilla ordered the woman out of the car, took the wheel and fled in the vehicle, running over Officer Kondek.

After a brief pursuit by police, Parilla apparently crashed into a pole and then into a parked vehicle.

Police Officer Kondek died at a nearby hospital.

Mr. Parilla was arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder.


Attorney Sam’s Take On Reality In Police Encounters This Holiday

Let's put recent events into perspective.

I know that there have been reports that "cop haters" have made statements that would tend to justify these killings. Just this morning, as I listened to WBZ radio, 1030 AM on the radio, I heard Jon Keller speaking about an experience he had at a dinner party when the host had made the comment that she wished she could kill a police officer.

His reaction of disgust was appropriate.

The troubled relationship between police officers and the citizenry is complex. We've discussed it here and I'm sure we will again. However, in my experience, there is a problem with equating the killing of police officers with incidents we have dealt with recently involving civilians killed by the hand of police officers.

When police officers shoot someone, it is usually during the course of duty and when they have lost control. They are not supposed to lose control. They are professionals. What makes them lose control can be panic, anger, racism and the like.

I don't think that many people actually believe that police officers wake up in the morning with the yen to kill civilians. Regardless of any racial bias on the part of the officer. Generally, these killings occur when there is a perceived crime being committed, or about to be committed, and the officer reacts or over-reacts.

Generally, police officers would like to protect the public, not get treated like a threat to humanity and get home safely at the end of their tours. The problem of when things go wrong, and someone ends up dead is a serious one. It is a problem that had best be improved quick.

The killing of police officers is something different. It is usually done by someone who has already decided to engage in some kind of criminal conduct. The law, and commonsense presumes that, upon venturing out with a weapon with the intent to commit a crime, the individual has some expectation that he may have to use that gun. He may have to use it against the civilian or a police officer.

And he does.

There is a vast difference between this person and someone who, while originally planning to protect to the public, overreacts and kill someone.

This is not to excuse, in any way, bad police shootings. It is also certainly not to excuse subsequent cover-ups. These should be dealt with extremely seriously for many reasons… not the least of which is the loss of a human life.

Of course, in the New York matter, the situation is even worse. The two police officers were simply sitting in the a cruiser when they were gunned down. It is reminiscent of the murder of a prosecutor of Suffolk County who was gunned down during his commute home one day several years ago. His name was Tom McLaughlin. He had dedicated himself to address The problem of the youth gangs.

And it ended up killing him.

On the same level as a police officer discharging his weapon several times in panic… even if that panic was driven by racism?

I don't think so.

So that this blog is not simply an opinion piece, let me remind you of something.

The killing of police officers only makes police officers more nervous. Further, it enhances the righteousness of that nervousness. Nervousness leads to panic.

In other words, you can assume that, this holiday, officers will be even more nervous while approaching possible criminals.

In reaction, they are not going to approach fewer criminals. They are not going to be giving more benefits of the doubt to suspects. They are not going to take greater risks in an effort to calm the situation down.

Rule number one will remain survival.

You do the math. Maybe it's right and maybe it's wrong.

But it's reality. Reality you had best understand as you and your loved ones leave home during this holiday season.

To review the stories upon which this blog is based, please go to
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/nyregion/two-police-officers-shot-in-their-patrol-car-in-brooklyn.html?_r=0 and http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/12/21/police-shooting-florida/20723027/

December 18, 2014

MASSACHUSETTS COMPOUNDING PHARMACY IS IN FEDERAL COURT ON CRIMINAL CHARGES OF RACKETEERING AND HOMICIDE IN FUNGAL MENINGITIS OUTBREAK

It is the next act in a drama which came to pubic attention in 2012.

In 2002, there was a deadly national outbreak of fungal meningitis. The outbreak was linked to steroid injections from a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy. Owners of the pharmacy, the New England Compounding Center (Hereinafter, “NECC”), were among those just arrested in connection with the disaster.

The United States. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tied 751 cases across 20 states to the steroid injections. A total of 64 people died as a result.

Those who became infected came down with fungal meningitis -- which results in inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord. That inflammation, according to health officials, resulted from the spinal injections with a contaminated, preservative-free steroid called methylprednisolone acetate.

The problems came to light when the first cases were reported in fall 2002. Framingham-based NECC voluntarily recalled three lots of the steroid that September. The next month, Massachusetts reported that it had "identified serious deficiencies and significant violations of pharmacy law and regulations that clearly placed the public's health at risk."

In 2013, NECC's owners agreed to create a $100 million fund for victims of the outbreak, about a year after filing for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11. However, in January, 2013, the compounding pharmacy filed a letter with the Securities and Exchange Commission claiming its cleaning company should share responsibility for the outbreak. UniFirst Corp. acknowledged that it provided "once-a-month cleaning services," but added that the pharmacy's claims are "without merit," the filing says.

In the meantime, federal investigations had, of course, begun. Health officials consistently blamed those behind NECC and its sale and administration subsidiary, Medical Sales Management, for the problem.

This week, an indictment was filed in Boston’s United States District Court. This introduces the potential of incarceration for those charged. The 14 people arrested face an array of charges such as racketeering, conspiracy, mail fraud and the production and sale of both "adulterated" and misbranded drugs.

NECC President Barry Cadden and supervisory pharmacist Glenn Chinn face the second-degree murder charges, which the U.S. Justice Department noted "does not require the government to prove Cadden and Chin had specific intent to kill the 25 patients, but rather that (they) acted with extreme indifference to human life."

"These employees knew they were producing their medication in an unsafe manner and in insanitary conditions, and authorized it to be shipped out anyway -- with fatal results," Attorney General Eric Holder said. "American consumers have a right to know that their medications are safe to use."

The indictment claims that NECC did not comply with cleaning, sterilization and other safety regulations -- and that many who worked there, from its owners to pharmacists -- actively lied about it.

NECC President Barry Cadden, for one, "instructed the ... sales force to falsely represent to customers that NECC was providing the highest quality compounded medications," the indictment states. He and others also allegedly used or approved the use of expired or expiring ingredients and "failed and caused others to fail to properly sterilize drugs," it states.

One pharmacist allegedly told technicians "to prioritize production over cleaning and disinfecting," even telling staffers to "fraudulently complete cleaning logs at the end of the month."

The bottom line is that, according to the government, not enough testing was done to make sure the drugs were safe. When it was, it often indicated problems, according to the indictment. Yet "action-level sampling hits" in 37 out of 38 weeks didn't prompt NECC to re-evaluate, investigate or do something significant about its procedures and practices.

It allegedly simply went for profit over safety, thus, with criminal indifference to human life, creating the crisis.

Attorney Sam’s Take On How Business Decisions Can Land You In Prison

Many people think that crimes done in the course of business, with the exception of obvious white collar crimes such as embezzlement, fraud and the like, are addressed in the civil justice arena.

They are.

But, these days, it does not necessarily end there.

These days we see more and more commercial entities being prosecuted for conduct which the government says is “indifferent to human life.” Even if this were not the trend, the idea of a murder charge based on said indifference is nothing new.

The classic example in a simple homicide case, where the defendant is an individual, is firing a gun blindly into someone’s window. The bullet kills someone.

Did the defendant mean to kill or injure that person? Assume there is nothing to indicate that. However, the very firing of the gun into the window demonstrates indifference to human life.

And that is a homicide.

So, in theory at least, it is the same thing.

Of course, there are other charges as well. Again, those charges are not so different from what they would be if the defendant was an individual.

The bottom line, folks, is that it is possible for business decisions and/or mistakes to turn into a criminal case.


To review the stories upon which this blog is based, please go to
http://www.bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2014/12/pharmacy_officials_face_racketeering_charges and http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/17/us/meningitis-outbreak-arrests/

December 16, 2014

GEORGETOWN POLICE EXECUTE SEARCH WARRANT AND FIND STOLEN ITEMS AND DRUGS

Did you know that Massachusetts law enforcement are allowed to arrest you for things they were not even looking for, but accidentally found while executing a search warrant?

The fact is, if the warrant allows them to be in a certain place, and they see something without violating the parameters of the warrant, it is fair game. Let's say police officers rang your doorbell, told you they were looking for little Johnny and showed you the proper paperwork to search your home for him.

You, a regular reader of this blog, of course, let the officers in and do not challenge the warrant. Instead, you quietly call an experienced criminal defense attorney to ask for advice. While you are doing that, the officers a looking around.

As they approach the living room, they happen to notice that the living room table has a scale on it, several small baggies and a mound of what appears to be marijuana. They have the right now to seize and inquire as to the weed.

They are also likely to arrest you for possession with intent to distribute that weed.

Even if they never find Johnny.

Just ask Nathan M. Caron, 22, Sheryl S. Savage, 63, and Kristine Jane Lynch, 30 (collectively, the "Defendants"). The authorities were investigating a rash of break-ins and thefts from various north shore communities. Their investigation led them to the home of the Defendants.

Armed with a search warrant.

Police say they found “rooms full of stolen property” believed to have been amassed from break-ins and thefts as well as an unspecified quantity of heroin while executing that search warrant.

The Defendants were arraigned at Haverhill District Court to answer to charges ranging from heroin possession to receiving stolen property.

Their home on Dummer Avenue was searched Friday, but Georgetown police said it took two days to inventory everything investigators removed from the property.

The goods include jewelry, power tools, electronics and tool cases bearing the names of contractors or residents believed to be victims of recent thefts or break-ins.

“Heroin is a problem in every community. It destroys lives and families and can have a devastating effect on neighborhoods. In Georgetown, we refuse to turn a blind eye to the problem, and we will continue to aggressively pursue those who allegedly attempt to manufacture and sell these poisons,” Police Chief Donald C. Cudmore said. “In this investigation, we see an unfortunate mixture of the sad results of the drug trade.”

Attorney Sam’s Take On What To Do When The Police Show Up At The Right Place And Right Time

Well, from our previous discussions, I am going to hope you know what not to do. For example, throwing yourself over the living room table and screaming, “Don’t look!” or shoving the officers in the other direction would be pretty bad ideas.

No, you are pretty much caught. However, you do not have to contribute to your own prosecution. For examples, if the officers turn to you and ask, “Hey, is this yours?”, you can rely on those handy Miranda Rights and explain you would rather have a lawyer present before you answer any questions.

“Isn’t there anything I can do when I see the inevitable happen?”

Yes! As soon as possible, contact your lawyer and ask for advice.

“But why bother? I mean, it’s a done deal, isn’t it? I’m caught! I am heading off to jail, aren’t I?”

Not necessarily. There are many issues involved here which you will need a lawyer’s help with. For example, what if the officers went beyond what was allowed in the warrant? What if the warrant itself is no good?

“That can happen?”

That can happen.

Every case is different and I cannot anticipate what the details will be when and if you are ever sharing a boat with the Defendants. However, I do know what to look for.

That’s what I do. It’s part of my job.

“What if the officer tells me that I don’t need an attorney?”

He or she may well tell you that.

Don’t listen.

It is often not terribly wise to take legal advice from the officer who is in the middle of slapping the Commonwealth Bracelets Of Shame on you and carting you away.



For the original story upon which this blog is based, please go to
http://www.bostonherald.com/news_opinion/local_coverage/2014/12/georgetown_cops_bust_trio_in_drug_burglary_probe

December 15, 2014

WHY LAW ENFORCEMENT MISCONDUCT PUTS YOU IN DANGER IN FEDERAL AND STATE COURTS

As any regular reader of this blog knows, the idea that law enforcement, including prosecutors, and the truth, go their separate ways at times is sad, but true.

One of the more often cited examples is contained in a dissent opinion of Chief Judge Alex Kolinsky of the United States Appeals Court for the 9th Circuit. It was in the federal matter of United States v. Olsen.

The issue was the turning over of Brady material to the defense. Brady material is material which the prosecution discoveres which is actually evidence which exculpates a criminal defendant. The law is clear that such material must be turned over to the defense post haste. This is because the prosecutor’s job is not simply to get a conviction…it is to do justice.

In Olsen, the issue had to do with a violation of the Brady rule, thus prejudicing the defense who went to trial without knowing about this exculpatory evidence.

Naturally, mistakes can happen. The problem is when these “mistakes” happen time and time again. In Olsen, Judge Kozinski began with, "There is an epidemic of Brady violations abroad in the land. Only judges can put a stop to it."

Kozinski indicated that "Protecting the constitutional rights of the accused was just not very high on this prosecutor's list of priorities. The fact that a constitutional mandate elicits less diligence from a government lawyer than one's daily errands signifies a systemic problem: Some prosecutors don't care about Brady because courts don't make them care."

We in Massachusetts have seen many instances of the years of federal court judges revealing Brady violations and other misleading conduct made by the Department of Justice.

Meanwhile, the rules relating to discovery in the federal criminal justice system enable the prosecution to keep vital discovery from the defense up until briefly before trial. Despite arguments by the defense bar that this makes it impossible to fully prepare to rebut a case that the government has long-since put together and tried to perfect in unfair.

Despite various violations of Brady and the like, these arguments have not persevered.

Attorney Sam's Take On Why This Matters To You

No, not every prosecutor is a liar. The same with police officers. When they lie, is it because they woke up one day with an insatiable urge to get you?

Of course not. Maybe they really “remember” it that way. Perhaps, as advocates, they have talked themselves into it.

It could be that they are simply basing their argument on untruths told to them.

Maybe they are covering their behinds…something that seems to be the golden rule in today’s criminal justice system.

It does not really matter to you, though, as to the why, does it? The fact is, either you or a loved one may be looking down the barrel of a multi-year sentence and are confronted with the seemingly impossible…proving a negative.

And, since law enforcement did not include you in their strategy and investigation, you do not really know what they are going to do next. Fortunately, you have retained the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, but will that be enough?

“But, Sam, I told you that I never commit crimes”.

Yes, I remember. But if someone is willing to either testify to a lie or a mistake, how safe does that leave you?

“You mean someone would take the stand and lie?”

Happens all the time. Not only that, but even if you feel the case against you would have to be very weak (given its untruth), do you really want to be floating around the criminal justice system long enough to prove your point?

“What do you mean 'long enough'

Unlike the one hour legal dramas or documentaries you see on TV, REAL criminal matters often are pending for about a year or more. There is a lot to do…including trying to discovery the government’s case against you.

In the meantime, as discussed many times, you are in jeopardy of losing your job, your home, your family, etc.

This is why these stories matter to you. This is why, under the most selfish of reasons, the integrity of your criminal justice system matters to you.

You feel you would never commit a crime? Ok, then, wouldn’t it be nice if your innocence actually mattered?

In terms of Brady material, if there was evidence which tended to show that you were actually innocent…wouldn’t it be dandy if you and your lawyer actually knew about it and could use it to gain your freedom?

Just Sayin’…!

For the full story upon which this blog is based, please go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/11/blistering-9th-circuit-di_n_4426802.html

December 12, 2014

ANOTHER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR IS FOUND TO BE LYING BY THE FEDERAL COURT

Over the years, this blog has discussed various instances in which there is little doubt as to whether prosecutors sometimes stretch, or “re-invent” the truth. This has been the case both in state and federal courts.

At a time during which we have had to question the integrity of law enforcement involving the killing of citizens and mysterious grand jury proceedings, a new story comes up that is worth remembering.

It deals with the integrity of a federal prosecutor…someone most of us would expect to be as “holier than thou” as they often act.

This one apparentlywasn’t.

The scene was a New York United States District Court. It was December 5th. It was the courtroom of Senior U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Thomas Duffy.

And the court was angry. He was angry because of lying and abuses by our “now ironically named Department of Justice.”

The court began by musing about the front hall of the Department of justice which has an engraving reflecting that the job of the Justice Department is to see that justice is done.

“Justice is founded in truth”, explained Judge Duffy. “ Most of the time the judges of this court depend upon the United States Attorney’s Office to tell the truth. I have caught you in a flat out lie. .. I would prefer henceforth that you advise your superiors that you are not to come to this court alone; you are to come with supervision. If you don’t mind lying, then the whole office is going to pay for it. I have made known to the other judges of this court my findings in connection with you sir.”

According to Wikipedia, Judge Duffy is a native New Yorker and Fordham graduate. He is a former Assistant United States Attorney himself, who served as Assistant Criminal Division Chief of the Southern District. When he was named to the federal bench in 1972, he was the youngest federal judge in the country.

As Judge Duffy perfectly indicated, “It is to the benefit of the people of the United States to have justice done—not just another scalp on the wall…The job is to find justice—not just get another press release.”

This was but one federal criminal case in New York. We in Massachusetts have seen instances of prosecutors being caught in lies and unethical behavior not so long ago.

I have seen such behavior in the states of New York and Massachusetts, state and federal cases. It happens…although most of the citizenry choose not to believe it. We are told to trust law enforcement, from the police officer on the beat to the prosecutor in the court.

The most fear-inspiring thing that I see is that our laws and the carrying out of those laws are often created giving law enforcement a great benefit of the doubt. After all, they are the “good guys”.

But, reality is not so simple.

Sidney Powell worked in the Department of Justice for 10 years. She was lead counsel in more than 500 federal appeals and is the author of Licensed to Lie: Exposing Corruption in the Department of Justice.

She explains, “ Like most of the good, hard-working, tax-paying citizens of this country, federal judges are fed up with the lies, prosecutorial abuses, destruction of evidence, lame excuses, and assorted prevarications by representatives of our government. There seems to be a much-welcomed, increasing realization of the old reality that government employees are supposed to be public servants—and follow the law themselves.”

There is a call, which I cannot help but endorse, for judges to accept this reality and put a stop to it…in the name of Justice.

Attorney Sam's Take On What Lying Law Enforcement Officers Means To You

“Sam, I am a hard working and honest family man. I do not commit crimes. I am not going to be noticed by any prosecutors. Why do I care that prosecutors mislead judges sometimes to convict the guilty?”

Well, it is hard to imagine that anyone’s view is still that illogical…

“Why ‘illogical?”

Because, as we have discussed many times, it does not take very much to be accused of a crime these days. Frankly, it does not even take committing a crime.

Let’s continue our sojourn into the criminal justice system and why you are at risk. We will do that next blog.

Until then, have a great, safe and law abiding weekend!

For the full story upon which this blog is based, please go to: http://observer.com/2014/12/federal-judge-blasts-yet-another-federal-prosecutor-for-lying-to-the-court/#ixzz3Lc9H8Czs

December 5, 2014

POLICE MISCONDUCT, "HOW CAN I BE SURE THAT LAW ENFORCEMENT WILL NOT KILL ME IF I AM A SUSPECT?"

There is much to be said about race relations, police officers and grand juries… not to mention the interaction of the three. However, let's deal with the facts as they exist today.

We know that there are times when the police interact with someone and things
get out of hand. Sometimes, someone is badly injured or killed. Usually, that is not the police officer. If the person is not actually killed, that person will face very serious charges even if the original allegations against him or her where relatively minor.

In the event that the suspect is killed, there will likely be a police investigation. There may or may not be a grand jury presentation. Either way, the officer will most likely not be prosecuted.

These are the facts that we have discussed time and time again. The only difference in the last couple of weeks is that we have seen them played out on a national stage. Again.

Now, why is it critical that you understand these facts?


Attorney Sam's Take On Rough Interaction With Law-Enforcement

Generally, when Law enforcement comes up to approach you, the officer is not coming to simply wish you a "good day". You are most likely either a witness, suspected witness or a criminal suspect.

Let's assume that you are either a suspect in a case the officer is investigating or just a suspect in general as someone who probably commits crimes although not necessarily the one being investigated.

"You mean because of my skin color?"

Clearly, that may be a part of it. Perhaps your looks fit in with a description of the suspect. Perhaps it is because there is alot of black on black crime either being committed in the area or the officers believe is being committed in the area. Assuming that the officer does not know you, the officer does know that he or she must remain in control of the interaction with you. Otherwise, the officer fears, something bad will happen. Something violent will happen. Now, is that because of your race? As I indicated, because of racial stereotypes, it may well be. It may also be the way you are dressed. It is likely many things.

Obviously, the more serious the crime being investigated, the more the officer is on alert and is sensitive to any challenge of losing control of the situation.

It is important to realize, and I base this on experience, that the officer probably did not wake up that morning or evening with the desire to engage in a violent scene with you or anyone else. He or she is hoping to return home at the end of the tour with no one having been seriously injured or killed in a matter involving him or her.

However, being killed or having to kill is a part of the daily reality that officers deal with. Add that to the fact that many people do not trust and actually fear police officers in general and you can imagine the hostile environment an officer may feel he is in.

So the officer is on extra alert.

The law gives certain allowances to law-enforcement in terms of benefits of the doubt. That is why a police officer is generally not going tube prosecuted for roughing you up. You, however, will be prosecuted should you engage in the same, or less, assaultive behavior with that officer or anybody else.

We can debate whether or not that's fair. But not today.

Under the law, an officer has the right to take all reasonable steps to safeguard his safety as well as the safety o those around him.it does not matter whether we are talking about an encounter on the street, in a car stop or at home. The officer has the legal right to make sure that he and those around him are as safe as possible.

In a number of the matters we have been discussing lately, the suspect had what could be could considered a dangerous or deadly weapon.

Clearly, this will raise the nerve endings on the neck of law enforcement.

So…what do you do?

You may not be able to control the officer’s behavior, but you must be able to control your own. Forget that the officer is the professional. Forget that the officer has certain guidelines he must follow or else evidence gets suppressed. Forget whether or not you feel that you have done anything wrong.

If you want to be sure to leave this confrontation in one piece, you have to make sure that you are the one who keeps his cool. That means remembering that you do not want to do anything that can even remotely be considered confrontational.

If the officer tells you to put your hands up, then, no matter what, put your hands up.

If the officer tells you to get on the ground, then, no matter what, get on the ground.

If the officer tells you to get out of the car, then, no matter what, get out of the car.

You can legally challenge the commands later...in court.

“But what if obeying the officer will lead to revealing some illegal material I have with me?”

Better to have the officer find that material than to have that officer find that material and face worse penalties than you would have ordinarily faced. These days, that penalty clearly can include death.

“Isn’t there a limit to this? I thought I had certain rights!”

There are and you do. Other than who you are, you do not have to make a statement when being interrogated by the police. You do not have to consent to an automobile or home search unless there is a valid warrant. You do not have to agree to do field sobriety tests or a breathalyzer.

Please note what this means and does not mean.

It does not mean that you can run away or assault the officer. You cannot threaten the officer. Ignoring the officer’s commands and giving a few of your own to the officer is also not a good idea.

You want to be as polite and non-confrontational as possible. The officer must know that you are not questioning his authority and that you will not put up a fight.

…and, if the officer wants to go further with you, tell him you want an attorney to discuss your rights with you.

“What if the officer starts telling me what the extent of my rights are?”

Then, politely, you explain that, with all due respect, I really think I should discuss this situation with her.

It’s that simple.

Now, go have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!

To see a video which makes this point in a more jocular vein, please go to
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igQDvYOt_iA