August 2, 2015
Gloucester District Court
Client, a lifelong Gloucester resident contacted attorney after receiving notice of a clerk’s hearing. Client was facing criminal charges as a result of an unfortunate dispute which occurred at a wake, following a close family member’s funeral. As a result of years of disagreements over living arrangements and caretaking to be provided to an ailing family member, client and his sister were not on good terms. Alcohol and the day of mourning added to the hostility in the air. The police notes detail a dispute between client and sister’s spouse alleging unwanted physical contact. Almost identical statements were made by three witnesses, including the alleged victim. Client swore his innocence. Fortunately for his sake, the Gloucester Police chose to afford client a magistrate hearing where a clerk would determine whether or not to proceed with the charges against client.
Attorney had very little time to investigate but immediately visited Gloucester to view the alleged crime scene and talk to the employees who were present on the afternoon in question. Although there were no cameras at the restaurant, attorney’s in depth investigation revealed evidence that would call into question facts in the witness’ statements. Attorney was able to speak with not less than two witnesses who were also present when the argument occurred but had not given statements.
At the Magistrate hearing the clerk, attorney, police officer, client and his mother, also a witness, sat at a large table. The officer gave the facts as he knew them, from the report, including statements from witnesses. The clerk then allowed attorney to give client’s side of the story. The presentation included the facts as the client remembered them, as well as information given to attorney by the witnesses he interviewed at the scene. Attorney pointed out the possible mistruths in the statements, motive, the almost mimeographed, descriptive wording in each hand written account, as well as the close relationship between the three individuals who made them. After attorney’s presentation client asked to be heard as well. With attorney’s help, he gave a genuine, heartfelt synopsis, not just of the afternoon, but of the months and years leading up to the altercation, the backstory that only the family knew so well.
The clerk magistrate thoughtfully listened to all evidence presented and informed the parties that she would take the matter under advisement, against the wishes of the police officer who was confident that he had met his burden of proof and the low standard necessary to allow a criminal complaint to issue.
Less than two hours later, attorney received a call from the clerk informing him that the charges against client would not be filed. The matter would be dismissed outright.
Dismissed Prior to Filing