There are some cases where it is best for defense counsel to offer no comments before he receives specifics of allegations against his clients.
These include matters where there are many moving parts and competing interests.
Cases like when one’s liberty is caught between law enforcement and the caught-in-the-public’s-headlights, the Department of Children and Families.
The case of Alexandrea Delyla Chadwick, 22 years of age and hereinafter, the “Defendant” for example.
The Defendant was just in Worcester Superior Court to plead not guilty to charges that she was, at least in part, responsible for the abuse of her boyfriend’s 7-year-old son (hereinafter, the “Son”). Authorities say that the Son was starved and burned.
This tells us that she has been indicted on felony charges. So does the fact that she agreed to her bail being set at $200,000 cash. She is next to appear in court on October 21st for a pre-trial hearing.
While the bail amount might suggest access to available money, she was assigned a court-appointed attorney, at least for purposes of the arraignment…although he indicated that he is in for the long haul.
“Obviously, the charges are very serious,” counsel admitted. “She’s concerned about all of the children that she’s involved with. She’s looking forward to working with me on this case and hopefully it will come to a satisfactory result.”
Well, hopefully, although “satisfactory “is usually not quite as strong as most clients in such situations would like to hear.
Unfortunately, other than that signal, counsel has now indicated to the media and, therefore, potential jurors, that the woman facing these horrible allegations has access and involvement with a whole bunch of kids.
According to the Boston Herald, counsel also confirmed that “the embattled state Department of Children and Families that failed to protect [the Son] has taken custody of [the Defendant’s] two children as well.
While he seemed willing to share some of his client’s information, counsel also admitted that the prosecution has yet to present him with any specifics in the case. According to the Herald, counsel has not received any specifics of the case yet because he agreed to the high bail that was set.
In the meantime, the Son, who weighed 38 pounds and was in a coma by the time authorities took custody of him, is currently in a long-term care facility, according to the Worcester District Attorney’s Office.
The actual father of the Son had been charged in district court with beating, starving and tormenting the child between June 30, 2014 and July 14th. His superior court arraignment has not yet been scheduled, but is apparently coming. Meanwhile, he also is being held on $200,000 cash bail.
Attorney Sam’s Take On High Profile Child Abuse Cases
There are no cases which bring the reaction of anger more quickly than those which have children as the alleged victims. They are the worst kind of domestic violence.
One has to be mindful of that fact when one represents a defendant so charged. It is important to gain as much information as possible quickly, but not add fuel to the publicity fire…particularly when specifics of the allegations are unknown.
In fairness, counsel in this case was in a bit of a tricky spot. On one hand, he could have forced a bail hearing. The good in that would have been to force the prosecutor to reveal certain specifics of the allegations and might even have gotten the bail amount lowered.
The district court probably set the $200,000 bail amount and it was unlikely that it was about to be lowered. The agreement between the parties was probably that the Commonwealth would not ask to raise the bail at the superior court arraignment if the Defendant agreed not to challenge it.
Of course, given that there is nothing to indicate that the Defendant had a bad record or had ties to another jurisdiction, the bail amount should be challenged. After all, bail is to ensure that the Defendant will return to stand trial.
At least, that is what the Rules say.
However, this is a high publicity matter with a very sympathetic victim. The Defendant and her beau are likely already seen as monsters.
The superior court judge was unlikely to lower the bail given the reality.
I have handled many high profile matters. One has to be careful how it regards the press, particularly given the sensitiveities of the day. What is said in the beginning of the case can come back to bite one’s professional fanny over the course of the defense.
It is often best to say nothing at all.
Somewhat the idea behind that Fifth Amendment thing.