In my last blog, we discussed two pending cases involving Massachusetts dentists. One was charged for sexual assault and the other was for using his position to get drugs illegally.
We started discussing similarity “between the lines” with the two cases. It comes down to the fact that they are both “high profile” cases.
Attorney Sam’s Take On The Changes Involved In High Profile Cases
For more years than I care to remember, I have handled “high profile” cases .
In the previous century, I began my professional career as a prosecutor in Brooklyn, New York. There was no shortage of high-profile criminal prosecutions. It was the 1980s, the early days of the crack epidemic, a high point in racial unrest and the changing of how much the media affected criminal cases. I saw from the point of view of the prosecutor the considerations and how they change when the matter is in the public Eye.
There are a number of reasons that a matter may become high profile. Often it has to do with the allegations themselves. It also can be because of who the criminal defendant is.
A dentist is not your typical criminal defendant. Sexual assault charges also tend to bring the public interest. Accusations that a dentist is abusing his position for reasons of illegally obtaining drugs is another set of facts that can bring public interest.
Since my days as a prosecutor, I have been a defense attorney here in the Commonwealth. I have handled the defense of many high-profile criminal cases
I have gained an understanding as to how these things tend to work… both for the defense and prosecution.
More often than not, everything changes when a case is high profile. Especially for the prosecution and the court.
It is a pretty simple equation. The media knows that there is public interest in these cases and so falls over itself, at varying degrees of caution, to learn more about the case than competing outlets. Realizing this, all the participants of the criminal case realize that they are being watched under a microscope, to a large degree by people who don’t have the overall understanding of the system.
Most people still believe that if someone is charged with a crime… they are probably guilty of that crime. Therefore, although there is that purported “presumption of innocence“, it tends to be an “assumption of guilt“.
Perhaps this is why nobody ever gets publicly criticized for being “too tough” on crime. However, there is a great deal of second-guessing judges and prosecutors who seem too easy on criminals. Defendants.
Criminal justice prosecution agencies are run by politicians. Therefore, they Care a great deal as to how they are seen in the media. When I was a prosecutor, both under Elizabeth Holtzman and Joe Hines, the biggest fear in the office was bad publicity.
In Massachusetts, judges are not supposed to be a political posts. However, in recent years, you might think otherwise given the reactions to decisions that displease people. Suddenly everyone wants that judge to resign or to be taken off the bench
With that in mind, let’s look at our two dental defendants
The two cases are different from one another in terms of the criminal allegations. One involves an alleged sexual assault and the other fraud and drug crimes.
However, you might notice the following origins to the criminal complaints:
Report Of Sexual Assault
A ccomplainant contacts law enforcement and says that her dentist just assaulted her. She describes that, while providing services, his arm touched her breasts a number of times. There is no report of any other witnesses (such as a nurse in room) or if any other patients are nearby.
Apparently, the dentist is well respected in the dental community and has no prior criminal record. The dentist is arrested right away and the media advised.
Report Of Illegal Drug Possession/Fraud
In this case, it appears that a witness (who may or may not have been involved in the type of activity the dentist is now charged with) has reported that it was all done at the bequest of the “big guy”, the dentist. It would appear that another witness who got into similar trouble a few years ago may have given a similar story.
“So…is that unusual? What’s the big deal?”
Let’s finish this subject in my next blog.