We have been discussing certain criminal justice truths as they apply to two high-profile matters. In one case, a dentist was charged with sexual assault. In the other, a dentist was charged with a drug-related fraud.
In both cases, the defendants are alleged to have abused their position of trust in order to perform their evil deeds.
Today, the Boston Globe , tells us of the arraignment in another such matter, this time playing out in Malden District Court.
This case involves 34-year-old Darnell K. Booth (hereinafter, the “Defendant”) stands accused of the rape of a 16-year-old Everett girl last month.
According to the Commonwealth, the Defendant was working as an Uber driver at the time the two met. He drove her in June and then allegedly contacted her through Snapchat. On July 5, she needed a ride to a summer school program. Coincidentally, the Defendant contacted her on Snapchat to ask if she needed a ride.
According to the Commonwealth, the Defendant, while driving the complainant, pulled into a largely abandoned parking lot and forcibly raped her. The fact that it was allegedly forcibly done is important as she is of the age of consent.
Apparently, the news gets even worse for the Defendant. The Commonwealth requested a dangerousness hearing to have him held with no bail. The prosecutor said the request was based “on his lengthy criminal history which includes multiple convictions for violent offenses and committed Superior Court time.”
Attorney Sam’s Take The Rush Of High Profile Matters
Uber and such services have had a bit of a rough time in the press of late. Criminal charges, going both ways, have been in the press. That being the case, there is no surprise that an Uber driver having such a criminal history and then being accused of using his position to sexually assault someone is something that draws media attention.
One thing is not clear here and that is when the matter was reported to law enforcement. Was it reported right away and the intervening time before arraignment is because of an actual investigation into the allegations?
One would like to think so. But it is just as likely that it took awhile for the complainant to report the allegations and law enforcement leapt right away to arrest.
It is noteworthy, after all, that this monster who had to be held without bail did not commit crimes between the date of the allegations in the case and the arraignment.
Now let’s compare this matter to our discussion of the two dentists’ cases.
Assuming that the complainant in today’s case waited and then made the allegations, then we have similarity…the similarity that I see time and again in high profile cases.
Basically, there is no wait to fully investigate. The allegations made by one person (as I have pointed out in the past, the person who gets to law enforcement first), without stopping to perform a…you know…investigation…the police jump to make the arrest which will, particularly given the press involvement, ruin the soon-to-be-defendant’s reputation and, probably, life.
“Well, how does law enforcement know that the media will even pay attention?”
Usually, it is law enforcement who alerts them in time to make the arraignment and news cycle.
“Well, aren’t there legitimate concerns which might lead law enforcement to rush to make the arrest?”
I suppose the argument could be made that there is the concern for the community…that the alleged guilty party is “out there” ready to attack again.
But there is a flaw in that reasoning. First of all, while doing some due diligence type of investigation, law enforcement could keep tabs on the suspect. If the suspect did try to make another illegal move, then they have a stronger case. This way, in the meantime, they can find out if they have either a stronger case because of the investigation…or perhaps know that they have a non-case.
…As opposed to, as I see quite often, a non-case that they will never dismiss although they know there will never be a conviction.
The point is that in high profile cases, law enforcement often leaps to bring criminal charges based upon one person’s report before conducting any investigation. And once these not-yet-fully-investigated cases get to court, they must be treated very harshly lest the viewing public feel that the office is “soft on crime.”
It is unfortunate, because a prosecutor’s job is to “do justice”. Not “play media”.
Unfortunately, given the way law enforcement handles these cases, there is an arrest and then the investigation is focussed not on what truly happened….but to bolster the case so that the Commonwealth can turn out to be right and victorious.
How this approach perverts any concept of justice is multifold.
And dangerous on many levels.
The fact is that, regardless of how these cases end (and I hasten to add that each of them have weaknesses I can already see), these defendants’ lives are ruined.
Funny, though, if there are acquittals, or even dismissals, nobody will hold anyone on the law enforcement side responsible.
Do you think this makes some folks frustrated?
Check out my next posing on a related topic.