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.

MASSACHUSETTS SCHOOLS AND LAW ENFORCEMENT REACT, AND OVER-REACT TO THREAT OF SCHOOL VIOLENCE

Massachusetts schools and law enforcement, like many across the country, are dealing with concerns of another school shooting. In the aftermath of the Connecticut mass murder, such concern is reasonable. Are overreactions based upon rumors understandable? Is it necessary?

A couple of years ago, we had a very public tragedy happen. A young girl, a troubled young girl, committed suicide. The cause was laid at the feet of other kids. This was a great tragedy. As a result, we overreacted and ended up with new anti-bullying law that proved to do nothing other than ruin those other kids lives. This was, and is, usually our reaction. Over reaction. In these overreactions, our weapon of choice is the criminal justice system.

Attorneys Sam’s Take got involved. We discussed the matter in fairly unpopular terms because we held an unpopular opinion.

Well, Here we go again.

Yesterday, we discussed a recent matter involving threats against schools. Of course, these rumored threats are not what one would call a tragedy. The tragedies we are afraid of, many of which have happened, the actual violent acts of unspeakable proportion. One such tragedy, the worst yet at least around here, is the one which took place in Connecticut a couple of weeks ago.

So now, in our usual overreaction fashion, we are looking for, and some of us are actually creating, rumors of upcoming tragedies. We’re we all-knowing, we could separate the bad rumors from the good rumors. We could focus on that which is a realistic threat and cast the others aside.

Unfortunately, we are merely human beings. Human beings, and we have as we have discussed many times in this daily blog, have weaknesses. One of those is that we cannot see the future.

And so, when faced with a rumor that indicates that such a tragedy could happen again, what is our law enforcement to do?

Yesterday, I began by talking about something that could be called “felony stupidity”. You may have wondered, under this topic, to whom I was referring. Was it the rumormongers? Was it kids who posted things like “please blow up my school”? Was it the police officers who arrested such kids?

Not that my opinions on “felony stupidity” matter, but it does bring up issues that affect all of us. Since it affects all of us in terms of criminal justice, it is a topic worth being discussed here.

As we countdown the days to the new year, and reflect on the past one wondering what we can do better next time, let’s do it now.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Rumor, Over-reaction And Tragedy

As regular readers of this blog know, I have two kids. As I would imagine is the case with every parent, the very thought of what happened in Connecticut taking place, is enough to paralyze me in my tracks.

What could be worse than 20 young children being murdered in that fashion, along with a few teachers, heroes actually, in the mix?

We are all looking for the reasons. Obviously, none of us can legitimately say we know what all the reasons are. So various people focus on various issues to pointing. For example, people are screaming for tighter gun control. Others just screaming for higher security at the schools. Still others Focus on treatment of the emotionally damaged, or, rather, our non-treatment of them.

These are all important things to look at. In the meantime, what do we do about never-ending rumors? After all, there are always rumors…

“Sam, there are more than rumore. For example, the girl in the story actually was requesting that someone violently attack her school?”

Was she ?

There are times when I am having a very tough day and either call or email a friend to “shoot me”. I have to tell you that I am awfully glad that nobody (so far) has taken me up on the invitation.

“So are you saying it is the Police who acted stupidly In her case?”

No, but I would say that, given what that arrest will mean to the girl’s record, it was an over-reaction. However, given the tenor of the times…especially right after the Newtown tragedy, the reaction is understandable.

This is especially so given the message that school officials and law enforcement are trying to send.

“And what message is that?”

We will answer that question and more as we finish this subject tomorrow.

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