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.

THE BUS DRIVER AND THE PASSENGER…DUAL ASSAULT AND BATTERY CASES?

What is a criminal ?

Technically, I suppose it is someone who is convicted of a crime. Some folks would even substitute the word “accused” for the word “convicted”.

Here in Attorney Sam’s Take, it can be someone who had a really bad moment and lost control. It could happen to any of us.

Some people think that 59-year-old Artis Hughes (hereinafter, the “Driver”) should be considered a criminal. He is the bus driver who had an altercation with a female passenger, 25-year-old Shi’dea N. Lane (hereinafter, the “Passenger”). In fact, there are others who feel that she should be considered a criminal as well.

For those of you who may have missed it, you can actually watch the highlights of the altercation on YouTube. It actually took place in late September in Cleveland.

According to law enforcement, the battle began when the Passenger boarded the bus. She complained that she could not pay the bus fare because she had forgotten her backpack. As the discussion continued, she asked questions like, “Are you putting me off the bus?” and “Is this how you treat people in Cleveland?”

Miraculously, the Passenger was suddenly able to pay her fare…which she did. And then she allegedly started cursing at the Driver and calling him names. Apparently deciding that the verbal altercation was not achieving satisfaction, she is said to have grabbed his throat, spit in his face and strike him with her fist. The Driver says he reached for his cellphone, but she knocked it out of his hands. The Driver says he finally “pushed her back” until the police could arrive.

Well, it turns out that one man’s push-back is another man’s upper-cut.

Watching the video, one can see the Driver stand up, wind up and smash her in the face with his fist. She is then seen flying backwards.

The Driver is next heard making statements to the effect that she wanted to be treated like a man, so he treated her like one.

Of course, under the law, one is not really to deliver an upper-cut to even a man’s jaw.

But, then again, the verbiage after the fight was about as sensible as that which is said to have taken place before the fight. One suitably articulate exchange was when the Passenger threatens to fight the Driver. The Driver then says he will get his daughter and granddaughter to come down and deal with her. The witty retort from the Passenger includes the suggestion that he bring along his “mammy”.

Well, after the dust has settled, the Driver is on suspension and I would imagine the local prosecutors are wondering what, if anything they should do about it.

As for the bout’s participants…they are overnight sensations on YouTube.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Massachusetts Assault And Battery Cases

As you know, I do not practice criminal law, or any law for that matter, in the great state of Ohio. So, let’s look at this event through the eyes of our own beloved Commonwealth.

What, other than disorderly conduct and threats, crimes have been committed here? By whom?

“Well, assault and battery of course. And the Passenger would be the one charged”.

What about the Driver?

“Self defense, right?”

Well, not necessarily. From what the Driver describes it could be self-defense. However, from the video, it looks like there is a pause in the action before he gets up says something about her going to jail and then smacks her. Because of that pause…I would say he stands vulnerable for a criminal charge of assault and battery.
So…technically, I would say they both could be charged. Of course, as we have often discussed, reality does not always follow technicalities. Particularly when public opinion is involved.

You will note that, by anyone’s description, let alone the video itself, the Passenger was the aggressor and, in fact, assaulted the Driver first. However, there is no indication that she is facing any kind of punishment.

“Well, she did get punched in the face…”

Sure. But that is not a legal punishment. I truly doubt that the applicable law states in the range of punishments for assault and battery something like, “…years in county jail or a direct, swift hard punch in the face”.

Meanwhile, it would appear that the Driver IS facing some kind of punishment…at least with regard to his job.

Factors like the sexes involved, the position of the parties (Driver was in position of authority) and who got the worst out of the fist-duel tend to be important considerations when it comes to criminal charges.

One can argue that that is a good thing or a bad thing, but it is a real thing.

It is one more example of why it is not a great idea to take law into your own hands such as striking back another person…particularly if you are the stronger contender.

But then, being human, if you do go with the bad moment…don’t be foolhardy a second time.

Get an experienced attorney to act for you when the potential criminal charges come a-calling.

For the original stories upon which this blog was based, please go to http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/12/bus-uppercut-punch-cleveland-driver-teen-girl-video-_n_1961527.html and http://m.christianpost.com/news/cleveland-bus-driver-uppercut-man-who-punched-girl-claims-self-defense-video–83264/

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