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.

SJC RULES THAT RUNNING FROM BOSTON POLICE DOES NOT NECESSARILY INDICATE GUILT

In Twelve Step programs, one of the steps to recovery is to “make amends” to people you have wronged. Well, while I am not involved in such a program at present, I do owe you, my readers, an amends. I left you hanging during the police cam festivities, hinting that I was going to be returning to shining the light of truth on that notorious department…the Department of Children and Families.

Well, the police cam controversy is over for now and I will wait a bit longer before I return to the truth of …Them. Instead, let’s look at a more recent criminal case about which you should be aware.

Especially given the fact that we are probably going to be inundated with data from the police cams.

It involves a criminal appeal which, lo and behold, actually recognizes a particular reality  which we have discussed many times in this blog.

According to the Boston Herald , Massachusetts prosecutors are asking the Supreme Judicial Court to reconsider its reasoning and decision in overturning a man’s firearms conviction.

In making its decision, the SJC indicated the necessity for new, more restrictive, stop-and-frisk practices. The Court ruled that the Boston police had no right to stop the man just because he fled from them in a high-crime area in 2011.

Part of the basis was an ACLU study. The SJC stated that, “The finding that black males in Boston are disproportionately and repeatedly targeted for FIO encounters suggests a reason for flight totally unrelated to consciousness of guilt…Such an individual, when approached by the police, might just as easily be motivated by the desire to avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled as by the desire to hide criminal activity.”

Police Commissioner William B. Evans said “Field Interrogation Observations” are heavily used by his officers to keep pressure on known and suspected gang members and thwart shootings in high-crime “hot spots.”

“It’s easy to throw out a few hundred thousand FIOs, but to not put them in the context they were done in, that bothers me,” he said. “Our officers do a great job out there every day taking guns off the street and they’re going to continue to do that.”

Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said he’ll ask the SJC for a rehearing, saying the decision runs counter to other rulings allowing police to stop a person fleeing from them.

Attorney Sam’s Take On The Realities Of Police Stops

We have discussed the great divide between reality and law enforcement perception in terms of police contact many times. For some reason, both the police and the prosecutors generally fail to comprehend why, when being victimized, some people do not rush right over to the police to get them involved. They assume that, since the other person involved went to the police first, the reluctant party must be guilty.

In fact, the reality is that many people actually fear the police and would rather let the situation remain as it is without their input. Perhaps this ruling will be the start of official recognition that there is a fear out there when it comes to law enforcement, especially given the issues coming to light on the streets of various cities where there is a disproportionate number of black victims of police shootings and brutality.

“Sam, you’ve always told us to not run from the police when they approach us. What do you say now?”

Still the same advice. The fact is, if they run, they will likely catch you. If you put up any kind of schedule, you may find yourself either seriously injured or dead.

The opportunity to invoke this new ruling in court is not really a terrific trade off against the risk of serious injury or death.

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