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.

BOSTON MAN FACES FEDERAL CHARGES FOR TRANSPORTING HAZARDOUS MATERIAL ON AN AIRPLANE

…And then there is the story of Dorchester’s 28-year-old Yongda Huang Harris (hereinafter, the “Defendant”). His tale of woe seems a natural follow-up to yesterday’s blog when we discussed how things you say can get you into trouble.

For the Defendant, it was what he wore.

You see, the Defendant was heading home to the Commonwealth from Los Angeles International Airport, where he had a stopover on the way from Japan. He was in the airport when a customs agent’s attention was drawn to the fact that the Defendant was sporting some unusual clothing.

The Defendant was sporting a bulletproof vest along with the matching flame-retardant leggings and trench coat.

Curiosity aroused, the agents searched the Defendant’s luggage where say they found an array of items which got even more interesting. They say that the weird weaponry and other items they found included a smoke grenade, a hatchet, three knives, leather-coated lead-filled billy clubs, leg irons, handcuffs and body bags.

Interest turned into arrest due to the smoke grenade. The charge was charge was transporting hazardous material on an airplane. It is a charge to be answered in federal court.

The Defendant has retained L.A. Attorney Steven A. Seiden. Chris Williams, a spokesman for Seiden (who, in turn, would be speaking for the Defendant) has explained that this is one of those molehills transitioned into a mountain.

He claims that the interesting get-up and accessories were simply the Defendant’s latest fashion choice from the Far East, from whence he was returning.

“It was more of a fashion accessory than anything else,” explained Williams. “When you’re living abroad, you try to assimilate. And the Japanese kids, sometimes they wear wrestling shoes or knee pads. … When you’re in Japan, these kids wear unique little outfits.”

The Defendant is a naturalized U.S. citizen of Chinese descent and a graduate of Boston University’s Metropolitan College. While in Japan, he had been teaching English.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Questionable Fashion Statements

Well, now you know why Batman never travels in a commercial airplane.

The fact is that, like it or not, the world has changed a lot from September 11, 2001. Folks on airlines charged with safety seem to have lost their joint sense of humor. Understandably so.

“Sam, did the Defendant act in either a suspicious or violent way?”

There is nothing to indicate that he did. However, anybody, particularly coming from another country, boarding a plane in a uniform that seems to say, “Hello. I thought you should know that not only am I expecting to imminently find myself shot at while around flames…I am rather used to it!”, should expect some extra attention. Why not wear a t-shirt with big bright letters saying, “I am here to blow up your airplane today”?

Of course, the uniform is not what got the Defendant arrested. It only got him noticed. The suspicion was led to the suitcase being examined. What they found there was questionable at the very least. However, the smoke grenade does qualify as an explosive of some kind.

Normally, folks who are carrying something that could be…to be generous…misinterpreted, do not bring such attention to themselves by wearing “I dare you” clothing.

“Haven’t there been cases involving peoples’ rights to wear clothing of their choice even if it is offensive?”

Yes, and in many cases, it must be allowed. However, there are limits…such as there are with the spoken word. However, this is not really that type of situation. This is not a case wherein the Defendant was simply wearing offensive clothing. He was wearing clothing which signaled that he could be a threat.

“Yeah, but if he were a real threat, would he really be dressing like that?”

I don’t know. Maybe they thought he was a stupid threat. Either way, if he suddenly started attacking people in mid-air, and it came out that he was appearing like this, there would have been a lot of critics brought against the federal authorities.

Again, this just addresses the question of reasonable cause to check out his suitcase. It is what was found in the suitcase that was brought him his extra stay in California.

Some places are simply not appropriate for pushing the limits. The airport is generally one of those places.

“Was the Defendant wise to contact an attorney to represent him right away even if he thought this was an over-reaction?”

In the entire story, that (plus not fighting with officials) was the smartest thing he did that day.

Until next week, whether you are traveling or staying put, have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!

For the original article upon which today’s blog was based, please go to:
http://bostonherald.com/news/regional/view.bg?articleid=1061167040&srvc=news&position=4

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