Massachusetts Assault Defendant Goes Criminal Justice AWOL

Almost everyone necessary showed up in the Hampden Superior Court in Springfield the other day. The jury was ready for the reading of the verdict. Judge McDonald was there. Assistant District Attorney Morse was in the courtroom. Defense attorney Stamm was sitting, albeit lonely, at her seat. Only one thing was missing.

38 year old Gerry H, also known as the Defendant, was gone.

He had been present for the trial, final arguments and instructions to the jury. Perhaps not coincidently that means he was the there to hear that he was facing a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence. His faith in the outcome was apparently justified…the jury found him guilty of assault with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, home invasion and threat to commit a crime.

Several hours after the jurors reported that they had a verdict, the Court made the determination necessary under law that the defendant had “voluntarily absented himself,” and called the jurors into the courtroom. He told them that they should not concern themselves with the defendant’s absence as they reported their verdict. They didn’t and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

The case involved a March 22, 2005, home invasion on Colton Street. The victims were a 7-year-old girl and her mother, who the prosecutor described as being caught in the middle of a dispute involving the defendant. The woman testified that he was one of two men who pushed her into her house as she tried to enter, and shoved her head against a wall. The two slapped her, grabbed her in a chokehold, and held a gun to her head, the prosecution case alleged.

A neighbor, alerted by his dog barking, heard the commotion, walked across the street, and called out to the woman. The two men then walked to their car and drove away.

The second man has not been identified.

The defense attorney had told the jury that the victim’s statements included inconsistencies, and that there was an incomplete police investigation of the event. She said the jury would see why the victim had a motive to fabricate the allegations. Maybe they did…but, if so…it did not seem to make much of a difference.

Sam’s take:

There is no “my eyes are closed so you can’t see me” remedy for jury trials. In other words, even if the defendant disappears before it ends…it ends anyway.

Appeals aside, the trial is the final battleground of a criminal case. Neither side has blinked and an agreed-upon resolution has not been reached. It is now time for the war. It is too late to decide that you do not like the way things are going and decide to change the team. You can run away and hope to defend another day…but that other day will most likely find you behind bars and it may be too late to do anything about it.

The time to have your team and strategy together is BEFORE the trial. In fact, even before the arrest if possible.

As an assault defense attorney in Boston for many years, I have developed an expertise in handling these cases at trial. In the over 20 years I have been in the Criminal Justice trenches, I have seen just about every type of scenario play out. I can tell you that the strongest defense is one in which the defendant and the attorney work together as a team. If your criminal defense attorney refuses to return your calls or have contact between court dates, then the attorney may not be totally invested in your case. If the defendant ignores the entire case between the dates, he similarly is ignoring the reality that is going to play itself out with or without his input ; either way, he will experience the consequences.

If you are either facing charges or have reason to believe you will be, get an experienced attorney who is expert at trying the case. It may or may not come to that, but if it does, you do not want to decide, for the first time, you have a lack of confidence during the trial itself.

My team and I at Altman & Altman PC have decades of experience in successfully handling criminal matters in and around Boston. We are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day and the initial consultation is always free. If you call us, we will be there for you.

Of course, the safest way to avoid a criminal trial is never do anything that can even remotely be considered or misconstrued as a crime. And don’t be in the wrong place at the wrong time. And don’t upset anyone who might bring false charges against you.

But, assuming you live on Earth in 2008, be prepared anyway.

If I don’t talk to you beforehand…

Have a good and law abiding weekend!

the full article of this story can be found at

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