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) 492 3000.

Attorney Sam’s Take: Burglary, Sexual Molestation And White Collar Crime-What Does A Massachusetts Verdict Mean?

I don’t know…maybe it’s me. Maybe the fact that I have been walking around with only one eye lately has so skewed my vision that I am simply losing my perspective. But, while my blogs are temporarily reduced in number, I am still going to court. I am still handling the alleged rapes, murders, robberies and all the other fun stuff that keep my professional life going. I also notice the news of events in which I am not engaged.

Just yesterday, I was in a district court and found myself on the other side of an argument which I often have with prosecutors. My client and a buddy of his had been arrested for a number of things, including breaking and entering, trespass and theft. My guy was getting a decent deal, but the Commonwealth wanted a guilty finding against him. His buddy was getting a continuance without a finding (such as we discussed earlier this week). Said buddy had been arrested previously not only for the same thing, but from the same complainant. That prior case had been dismissed.

So, I argued with the prosecutor that if he got a CWOF, my client (who had not been implicated in that prior offense) should get one too. The ADA pointed out that my client had a prior criminal record and his co-defendant didn’t. I referred to the earlier case that the co-defendant had and the prosecutor simply shrugged and said, “yes, but that was dismissed”.

She was right, of course, but it was a strange position for me to be in. Usually, I am on the other side of that argument. Often, my client has prior dismissed cases or acquittals and although the prosecution is not supposed to use them against him, they do so anyway when considering what they want to do with him.

After all, according to the criminal justice system, what actually happened with the case, be it a jury or judge finding, we are supposed to consider the final word on the subject of innocence or guilt (unless an appeals court overturns the verdict).

In the meantime, I have been watching the aftermath Chuck Turner’s case.

It looks like I am not the only one losing touch with criminal justice reality.

A View From The Trenches:

Chuck Turner is awaiting sentencing in a white collar crime trial in which he was found guilty in federal court. He may very well be looking at prison time. After all, his close-to-being-co-defendant, Diane Wilkerson, pleaded guilty and it is pretty clear that she is going to become a guest of the federal government for a time.

One might have thought the jury would have found Mr. Turner not guilty. One might have hoped Mr. Turner would not have committed what the judge must now assume to be perjury on the stand. One might also have wished that the prosecutors, just before the jury returned with its verdict, would have jumped up and told everybody to “never mind”, that they had decided that Mr. Turner was not guilty and apologize to him for wasting his time.

But, getting back to reality, he was convicted. At this point, the law must regard him as guilty.

As you may have gathered if you are one of my regular readers, I tend to be somewhat libera in criminal justice issuesl. However, I have to be a realist. Unless and until they are overturned, verdicts, technically at least, have to mean something.

I am quick to scream when a law enforcement takes the “where there is smoke there is fire” approach to my clients and diregard an acquittal in further dealings with her. However, a guilty finding means something different from a not guilty finding or a dismissal.

It was not a shock to me that the Boston City Council voted overwhelmingly this week to throw Chuck Turner out of office because of his bribery conviction. The man was, after all, found guilty of abusing his position to commit a crime. Let me use another term – corruption. Everybody says that they don’t like. We tend to regard it as a bad thing.

He’s been convicted by a jury of doing it.

Well, this has been a matter of great debate. People are angry. Cries of “racism” and “persecution” have been flying through the air against the folks who have removed Mr. Turner from his position of trust which he has been found to have corrupted.

Perhaps I should put it another way. Many criminal defendants, while awaiting sentencing, do so behind cell doors. Fortunately for Mr. Turner, this is not the case. However, this does not take away the conviction.

Let’s say Mr. Turner were the dentist retained solely for taking care of the dental health of Simmons College, an all-girl clientele. Assume further that he is accused, and then convicted, of molesting his patients while they were “under”. Assume finally that, while awaiting sentencing, he was not held in custody.

Do we really expect that Simmons is going to request that he return to his regular practice with the young ladies until sentencing? I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest, “What’re you, kidding?”

Again, it is odd to find myself on this side of the argument. I’m the guy always screaming about the presumption of innocence!

To be perfectly frank, I would like to get out of self-contradictory conversations like I had with the prosecutor yesterday. I also would prefer the news to stop handing me such mind-bending issues as Mr. Turner.

At least until my eye recovers. I already have double vision and am required to wear an eye patch. I don’t need such issues being presented in ways that would make anybody go cross-eyed.

Anyway, the as the eye continues to mend, I hope to return to daily blogging next week. Either way, I will certainly continue the “good fight”. So, if you would like me to be the experienced criminal defense attorney who helps you with such cases, I remain available. Simply call me at 617-492-3000 to set up a free initial consultation.

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

For the original story upon which today’s posting is based, please go to:
http://mobile.boston.com/art/30/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/12/02/amid_taunts_boston_city_council_expels_turner/

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