Yes, it is time for final exams in our colleges and universities. No less is true for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And this brings us to Boston’s United States District Court and the alleged breaking of federal criminal law.
Elmo Kim. 20, is a student of Harvard University and, now, is hereinafter referred to as the “Defendant”. He is now off campus and has been released on a $100,000 bond into the custody of his sister and uncle.
Boston’s United States Attorneys Office has alleged that the Defendant sent hoax emails Monday saying shrapnel bombs would go off soon in two of four buildings on Harvard’s Cambridge, Mass., campus. The emails came minutes before he was to take a final exam in one of the buildings. According to the complaint, the Defendant sent emails to Harvard police, two university officials and the president of the Harvard Crimson newspaper, saying bombs had been placed around campus.
On Saturday night, he sent an email over his dorm Listserv, The Harvard Crimson reported. ”I was wondering if anyone had taken GOV 1368: The Politics of American Education (Paul Peterson) in the past,” He apparently wrote in the email. ”I have several quick questions about the course.”
An FBI affidavit says Harvard determined the Defendant had accessed TOR, a free product that assigns a temporary anonymous Internet protocol address, using the university’s wireless network.
The buildings were shut down for hours before investigators determined there were no explosives.
Harvard said it was saddened by the allegations but would have no further comment on the investigation. A fellow student added that “Harvard is just like every other school, where students are just as stressed and caught up with their work,” he said. ”At Harvard especially, people are scared to fail or do poorly, even a B. It just kind of reflects just how high-stress it is here. If it is true that a student sent a bomb threat to prevent himself from taking a final, I think it’s sad that somebody would have to go to that length.”
Authorities report that the Defendant he admitted his guilt. They report that he said that he emailed the bomb threats about a half-hour before he was scheduled to take a final in Emerson Hall. He said he was there at 9 a.m. when he heard the alarm sound and knew his plan had worked, according to an FBI affidavit.
The Defendant’s federal public defender has credited the report of the confession by explaining that his client was dealing with finals and the third anniversary of his father’s death, which is this month. He also added that his client was under a great deal of pressure and
“seems remorseful”. This was explained after the defendant was released on bond.
Counsel added, “It’s finals time at Harvard…In one way, we’re looking at the post-9/11 equivalent of pulling a fire alarm. Certainly I’m not saying the government response was unjustified, but it’s important to keep in mind we’re dealing with a 20-year-old man who was under a great deal of pressure.”
Under the conditions of his release, he cannot enter Harvard’s campus without prior approval of both the school and the federal court.
The maximum penalties for a bomb hoax are five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, prosecutors said.
Attorney Sam’s Take On Pranks, Justice And Unfortunate Statements
Maybe I’m not qualified to comment on this story. I went to Tufts University undergrad and then Boston University School of Law. I was one of the folks who saw movies like “Paper Chase”, read books like “One L” and thank the heavens that I was not going to Harvard. Law School or otherwise. Every on e in a while I would meet a Harvard student and the image of academic torture and pressure would be supported.
I do not think I am alone in the view of college pressure on the compus. In more recent years, we have seen various stories of cheating rings created, presumably, to thwart the pressure of having to perform academically legitimately.
So, at least on the surface, it would appear that the “protective” words of defense counsel that his client was “under pressure” and “seemed sorry” fall a bit short of being revelaions… or particularly helpful for that matter.
Such words would appear to admit guilt. Hardly what you would expect from a defense attorney. However, it appears that the defendant had already made some confessions.
“But Sam, mightn’t that evidence be suppressed before trial?”
Yes. That is why it is usually not advisable for defense counsel to make statements to the press before having an opportunity to review all the evidence.
“Perhaps he felt he had to make the statement so that he might have a better chance at getting his client released.”
That appears to be unlikely, because the bail hearing had already finished. His client was already being released.
The bottom line here is that, while looking from the outside inward, the statement might be questionable, we do not know the defense attorney’s strategy. And don’t kid yourself, everything from the moment he first hears about the case should be all about strategy to defense counsel.
In the meantime, there is a lesson to be learned here that one would hope need not be learned. In the past, we have seen cases where bomb threats or reports of danger have been made for various reasons, including as pranks. If they were ever considered funny, those days are long gone. As the Defense attorney said, things have changed since September 11, 2001.
And, sense then, things have not become more relaxed, they have become less relaxed when it comes to explosives.
In other words, better to have flunked the test.
For the original story upon which this blog was based please go to http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2013/12/19/lawyer-accused-harvard-student-was-under-pressure/J3kUaHLCa3qLtAGYiSmkbI/story.html