A recent Boston courtroom battle that hosted various law-enforcement characters, both past and present, has come to an end. When the jury returned, the verdict was “Not Guilty”.
Wayne A., (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) was a firefighter on trial for assaulting police officers in 2008. The setting was Roxbury Municipal Court. The complainants, of course were the officers whom he had allegedly assaulted and resisted arrest from. The defense attorney, Neil S. Tassel, was a former prosecutor himself.
The police had said in their police report that the Defendant had been shaking his girlfriend and shouting in her face when they arrived to investigate. They went to arrest him and, according to them, he violently resisted.
At trial, both the Defendant and said girlfriend testified that they had simply had a verbal argument, but that the Defendant was not even near her when police arrived. Apparently, the Defendant further testified that he did not even know that the police were there and they simply knocked him out during the incident.
Tassel also said that the Defendant’s relatives described a loud argument between the couple, but no violence, until police arrived on the scene.
Jake Wark, spokesman for Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley, said prosecutors kept the case going even after the Defendant’s girlfriend balked at cooperating with prosecutors.
“The observations police made as they appeared on the scene and the observations made on the scene gave us reason to believe we could prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt,” Wark said.
The Defendant, a firefighter for about 18 years, remained on the job while waiting for the case to be resolved, said Fire Department spokesman Steve MacDonald.
Attorney Sam’s Take:
We have discussed cases like this before. You know the drill by now.
Somebody somewhere calls the police because there appears to be a domestic disturbance. Maybe it is one of the two involved in the argument. Maybe it is a neighbor. Perhaps even someone on the other end of the telephone making assumptions. The police arrive and there is, at the very least, some kind of verbal disagreement. The result is clear.
Somebody is going to jail. It is simply procedure by now.
And so the criminal justice nightmare, deserved or otherwise, is about to begin.
Perhaps the “victim” immediately reports to the police that nothing happened. Perhaps it is a spouse who shows up at the arraignment to explain to the prosecutor and court that nothing happened and that she/he intends to assert the marital privilege and not testify.
In the vast majority of cases, it will not matter. The case is going to proceed to its trial date.
That means months of anxiety, time off from work and money for an attorney if you have private counsel.
Of course, in this case, there was an interesting twist. According to the officers, the Defendant also attacked them, so they could testify that, regardless of any domestic violence charges, they observed themselves being attacked by him.
The jury did not buy it, though.
I know Neil Tassel. He is a good lawyer. He is also a former prosecutor, which, I can tell you from experience as one myself, helps in the preparation and trial of criminal cases. It helps to be able to see how the other side is thinking.
It also usually means that the attorney is experienced, which is something else that you want when your liberty is at stake.
Should you find yourself or someone you care about to be facing such serious charges as these and wish to discuss the matter with me, please feel free to call me at (617) 206-1942.
For the full article upon which today’s blog is based, go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/09/22/firefighter_acquitted_in_08_easter_weekend_assault_charges/