You may have been expecting to see this kind of story during our current presidential race theatrics. Sometimes, though, national political temperament is reflected by local political temperament.

I am referring to a new Massachusetts assault case pending in Holyoke. It is a case now scheduled for a trail for April 4th.

The former mayor of Chicopee, Michael Bissonnette (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) is charged with attacking Police Lt. John Pronovost on September 8th at a city polling location.
Apparently, the dispute started when the officer asked the Defendant, who was seeking re-election, to remove a campaign sticker, believing he was in violation of a law that bars campaigning too close to a voting site.

The men got into a shouting match and insulted each other.

According to the Boston Herald the debate ended up with the Defendant facing four criminal charges including assaulting a police officer and disorderly conduct.

The Defendant’s attorney admits that the men shouted face to face but claims that there was no physical contact between them and he is confident his client will be exonerated.

Attorney Sam’s Take On How Little It Takes

You know, a criminal defense attorney has to be careful when he speaks to the press abut a pending case. While, on one hand, the lawyer’s statement cannot be directly attributed to the client himself, it can make the road to “exoneration” a bit tougher.

For example, the Defendant’s lawyer is apparently admitting to a verbal dispute or confrontation between the Defendant and the officer. That could be a bit of a problem.

Regular readers of this blog know that refusing, in the field, to follow directives of a police officer tends to be unwise. One of the reasons it is unwise is that it can be offensive to the police officer. Such offensiveness is grounds for the charge of Disorderly Conduct.

That is all it takes with such a charge and such a charge in one of those facing the Defendant.

The Commonwealth now has grounds to claim that the Defendant’s representative has basically admitted to that criminal charge. This is not exoneration.

Another thing worth noting is that the charge of “assault” is different from the charge of “assault and battery”. For the latter, there needs to be actual offensive touching. That would be the basis for the “battery” allegation.

The crime of “assault” does not require a showing of any touching at all. One merely needs to put the other in fear of such a touching. If we are admitting to the verbal altercation, it seems to me to be dangerously close to opening the door to admitting to assault.

This is especially so given the overall circumstances. Here, one must assume that for the Defendant to engage in the argument in the midst of a quest for re-election…at a polling place no less…the Defendant had to be fairly angry.

Maybe even a little out of control of his temper. So much so that he is clearly risking losing the race then and there. In fact, given the title of “ex-mayor”, I am going to go out on a limb in assume that he did indeed lose the race.

You might be surprised how many citizens do not like the image of seeing their mayor, when law enforcement is giving an order he does not like, opting to get into an altercation with said officer instead of simply following the directive.

Or maybe you wouldn’t be .

In any event, it does not take very much to be charged with crimes like disorderly conduct, assault or even assault and battery. Whether or not the Defendant loses the trial, he has obviously already lost his race for re-election.

Don’t get me wrong…there may well have been some political nastiness behind the events at issue. The fact that the Defendant, who I am assuming, is without a prior criminal record, still has this case pending and apparently going to trial makes me suspicious that somebody is out to “get ‘im”.

All the more reason for someone in the position of mayor to be extra careful so as not to give in to anger at such events.

But, then, that is just one lawyer’s opinion.

Look at the success of certain presidential candidates. Maybe it is the way to go.

Anyway, have a great, safe and law-abiding weekend!

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