August 12, 2010
Dred Scott Argument Fails To Move Judge
A Massachusetts attorney was sanctioned with a public reprimand as a result of a conviction for reckless assault and battery. According to this report in the Merrimack Valley Eagle-Tribune (quoted below), the assault took place while the attorney was employed as a substitute teacher. The victim was a first grader who the attorney-teacher had picked up by the shirt coller and banged into a door. The incident was caught on the elementary school's surveillance tape.
The attorney's lawyer made these reported comments at sentencing:
Murphy [counsel to the attorney] argued that [the attorney's] crime didn't warrant jail time because he didn't intentionally try to hurt the boy. He argued during the trial that [he] was trying to keep the boy from running out of the school.
Prior to yesterday's sentencing, Murphy also made a rare, and unsuccessful, attempt to get the judge to overturn the guilty verdict. Typically, that is done during a separate appeal.
Murphy mentioned the Dred Scott decision, a pivotal Supreme Court case in which a slave sued unsuccessfully for his freedom in 1858, in trying to get the judge to overturn the jury's guilty verdict of [the attorney]
"That was an instance of judicial cowardice," Murphy said of the Dred Scott case. "This court, at this stage, has the ability to remedy, in effect, what the jury did wrong (in the [attorney's] case)."
[The judge] denied Murphy's request, saying that the evidence was sufficient to sustain the charge.
The summary of the disciplinary case indicates that the victim suffered minor injuries. (Mike Frisch)
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So was the Dred Scott reference wrong in some way or simply ineffective?
Personally, I think attorney discipline has really lost its bearings when it starts regulating teachers in a grade school setting. Surely the schools and, where necessary, the courts can guide that without needing the help of the disciplinary bodies. And don't they already have enough on their plate with regulating the legal profession, which is, after all, what they're charged with doing?
Posted by: FixedWing | Aug 13, 2010 8:02:34 AM