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 RETURN OF THE LONGTIME BOSTON CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER AND THE STORY OF TEXTING AND SUICIDE (1 of 2)

Hello, folks! You may remember be. This is Sam Goldberg (AKA “Attorney Sam”). I used to be your friendly blogger on this site on a daily basis. When last we spoke, I told you that I would be back and also doing more regular blogs elsewhere. While I have not begun the latter, I thought I would revisit the Bostoncriminallawyerblog.com to make a few postings.

If nothing else, to remind you that I am still here.

The first thing I thought I would discuss is the recent verdict of “Guilty” in the Michelle Carter matter.

As you probably know, the case involved a suicidal young man, Conrad Roy III (hereinafter, the “Deceased”) who was a friend of Michelle Carter(hereinafter, the “Defendant”). Summed up, the Deceased was communicating with the Defendant via text while he as filling his truck full of lethal fumes in a suicide attempt.  Through it, the Defendant was encouraging him to follow through with the suicide. Even to the point of ordering that he get back into the truck at a moment when he was having second thoughts.

He obeyed…and died.

The Defendant was charged with of involuntary manslaughter. In a surprise move, the Defendant’s lawyer waived a jury trial and opted for a bench trial. In other words, a judge would decide the verdict, not a jury.

The gamble did not pay off.

Judge Lawrence Moniz of Bristol County Juvenile Court ended up finding the Defendant guilty. The Defendant is to be sentenced on August 3rd and faces a potential 20 years in state prison.

The national news media have been all over the story. The New York Post interviewed various Massachusetts attorneys, including me, for their views. The New York Times  also sought legal opinions from the Commonwealth.

While the case involved thousands of text messages (some from when the Defendant was actually trying to dissuade the Deceased from killing himself), the court indicated that the step that earned the Defendant her Guilty finding were actually spoken words between the two. As mentioned above, when the Deceased left the truck. The Defendant told him to get back in the truck and then listened to him die without trying to help him

It was these words that seemed to be the deciding factor for the judge.

“This court finds,” the judge added, “that instructing [the Deceased] to get back in the truck constituted wanton and reckless conduct.”

It would almost seem that a guilt-ridden Defendant agreed with the judge as she texted to a friend, “Sam his death is my fault, like honestly I could have stopped him…I was on the phone with him and he got out of the car because it was working and he got scared.”

She said she then instructed him “to get back in.”

This was shortly after the incident.

There has been a great deal of reaction from those in the legal field. A lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts states, “This is saying that what she did is killing him, that her words literally killed him, that the murder weapon here was her words…That is a drastic expansion of criminal law in Massachusetts.”

Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge and Harvard Law professor, has asked the question, “Will the next case be a Facebook posting in which someone is encouraged to commit a crime… “This puts all the things that you say in the mix of criminal responsibility.”

There are issues in this matter which deserve real consideration.

For all you “law and order” types who are in agreement with the verdict, there are other aspects you may wish to consider.

In fact, I have been warning you about some of these aspects for several years now.

We will continue this posting shortly

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