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.

Woburn Assault Sentencing For Mark Kerrigan, Justice And Hypocrisy (Part 1 of 2)

Yesterday, you may have heard me criticizing the Honorable Judge S. Jane Haggerty with regard to the sentencing of Mark Kerrigan (hereinafter the “Defendant”) on the radio. As you know, the Woburn homicide trial ended with a conviction of straight Massachusetts assault and battery.

Next came yesterday’s sentencing.

As predicted, it was a morning of emotion and tension.

The Commonwealth asked for the maximum possible sentence…2 ½ years in jail.

The family and the defense requested what is known as a “split sentence” – a 6-month suspended sentence followed by a year of probation. The Defendant had already served 4 months and so would be eligible for parole immediately.

The judge? She whacked the Defendant, giving him the 2 ½ year sentence, 2 years to serve now, the rest on Massachusetts probation.

What does all this mean?


Attorney Sam’s Take On What The Assault Verdict Meant And Credibility

In my last blog, written just after the verdict, I gave you a couple of possibilities. One of them was that it was simply a compromise verdict. However, I have since learned a bit more about the verdict…

This was no compromise verdict.

…And it is something that the media, as far as I have been able to tell, has failed to tell you.

The jury was not simply given the two counts of manslaughter and simple assault and battery to consider. They were given manslaughter and a choice of assault/battery counts to decide upon. The top assault count was actually assault and battery on a person 60 years or older causing serious bodily injury. That carried a possible 10 year sentence.

The jury rejected that theory and found the Defendant guilty of the lesser-included offense of straight assault and battery, which had the maximum sentence of 2 ½ years in jail.

What this means is that the jury did not simply compromise. They specifically rejected the theory that the assault, whatever it was, caused any serious injury, including death, to the deceased.

Now, in this particular country, we say that we hold jury verdicts as sacrosanct (at least, unless and until they are overturned by an appellate court). Surely, once one is convicted of a crime, any pretension of innocence is tossed into the garbage like yesterday’s trash.

Here, the jury verdict could not be more clear – the Defendant did not cause his father’s death or injury in any way. Given the evidence, this would suggest that the assault was the reported “bear hug”. This was described by two witnesses who were there. That’s right…Nancy Kerrigan and her mother. Thus, it appears that the jury credited their description of what happened.

One would imagine that, since the jury found the Kerrigan family credible, that the judge might too. After all, they are the remaining victims.

Speaking of victim witnesses, all such witnesses have a right under our law to address the court at the time of sentencing.

These victim witnesses did, although the Defendant’s mother could not physically handle the sentencing and so wrote her comments up for her sister to read.

Judges regularly take victim witness statements to heart when sentencing defendants.

After all, if there is a sentencing, the jury would most likely have believed such witnesses, otherwise they would not have convicted.

Wouldn’t you think that would have taken place in this case?

Later today, I will post the second part to this blog and we will discuss what really happened here.

Here’s a hint…this experienced criminal defense attorney is not happy.

Meanwhile, if you would like to discuss a criminal matter with me, please feel free to call me at 617-492-3000 to arrange a free initial consultation..

To view the article upon which this blog is based, please go to http://boston.cbslocal.com/2011/05/26/sentencing-day-for-mark-kerrigan/

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