Tuesday, July 16, 2019

When A Parent/Lawyer Helps A Criminally-Charged Child

An attorney whose son was charged with first degree murder was publicly censured by the Tennessee Board of Professional Responsibility for failing to advise law enforcement when he appeared at her home on the afternoon that the charges were filed. 

She had been charged as an accessory after the fact and pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of contempt of court.

Memphis Flyer reported

A Shelby County attorney was censured by state officials Tuesday for harboring her son after he murdered a man during a drug deal in 2016. 

According to WMC, 17-year-old Sebastian Vaughn was indicted on a first-degree murder charge in 2017 for killing Marlo Williams at a Memphis IHOP in June 2016. Vaughn, who attended Bartlett High School, told investigators he shot Williams, 35, with a sawed-off shotgun in the front seat of the victim's car during a dispute during a drug deal at the Sycamore View Road IHOP. 

WMC reported also that Vaughn took a photo of the victim at the time and sent it in a message friends with the caption, "I just killed a Mfer 10 minutes ago."

Vaughn to [sic] pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in February and will be required to serve at least 45 percent of a 15-year prison sentence, according to WMC

Several years ago, the Maryland Court of Appeals disbarred an attorney who assisted his son's flight to Israel in the face of murder charges.

By assisting his son in the egregious manner that he did, respondent essentially interfered with the natural progression of the criminal justice system.   Instead of Detective Hamill completing a full investigation of respondent's son, turning the case over to the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office for consideration of prosecution and, if prosecuted, ultimately having a jury of respondent's son's peers decide Samuel Sheinbein's fate, respondent effectively usurped the role of twelve Maryland citizens and substituted it with his own paternal instincts.   Respondent made it impossible for the justice system to work.   A jury of his peers may have believed that Samuel Sheinbein acted in self defense and might have rendered a verdict of not guilty.   As a direct consequence of the actions of the respondent, we will never know how the Maryland criminal justice system would have treated Samuel Sheinbein.   This is inappropriate.

...This is not a case of this Court passing moral or criminal judgment on a father for trying to protect his youngest son, nor is it the Court punishing a surrogate for a crime where the accused has escaped the reach of Maryland's law.   In fact, respondent is currently beyond the reach of the state's jurisdiction.   It is merely the process by which this Court protects the public from attorneys whose actions fly in the face of their legal obligations to the public and to their own profession.   We shall disbar respondent.

There was a dissent

the majority...finds respondent's actions to be “so appalling” and “egregious” that his conduct is prejudicial to the administration of justice in violation of MRPC 8.4(d).   In fact, the extreme language and tone of the majority opinion might lead a reader to conclude that the respondent was the one who committed the homicide.   Despite the majority's characterizations of the respondent's conduct, I do not believe that his conduct, when viewed separately from the underlying crime committed by his son, constitutes misconduct by a criminal act under MRPC 8.4(b) or conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice under MRPC 8.4(d).

Bethesda Magazine tells the story and updated the Sheinbein case in 2014.

Samuel Sheinbein was two-thirds of the way through a 24-year sentence for murder and was eligible for parole when he died in a shootout with Israeli prison guards and police on Feb. 23.

It was a strange ending to one of the most gruesome crimes in Montgomery County history—the 1997 killing and dismemberment of Alfredo “Freddy” Tello Jr. of Silver Spring, events police quickly tied to Sheinbein and his friend Aaron Needle, both 17 at the time.

Needle hanged himself in a Montgomery County jail cell shortly before his trial was to begin in April 1998. But earlier, Sheinbein had fled with the help of his father to Israel, where he eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced as a minor.

Now at 33, Sheinbein is dead, too, in what Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy calls “death by cop.” The last chapter in a bizarre and disturbing crime appears to be over. But there’s no comfort in that ending.

“At the end of the day,” says McCarthy, who was originally assigned to the case, “three young men are dead.”

(Mike Frisch)


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