On December 21, 2019 two men (JG and JM) who shared an apartment in Newburyport went out for a few drinks. They returned back to the apartment. It is at this point that the two versions of what happened differ wildly. The police reports contain the following: According to JG, who owned the lease on the apartment, JG asked the roommate JM to leave the apartment. When JM refused to leave an argument broke out and JM punched JG and pushed him to the floor knocking over a Christmas tree. According to JM, when they returned from the bar JM tried to go to sleep but JG began arguing with JM and JG pushed and scratched JM at which point JM pushed JG away. Both men told the police that the other man was the aggressor. Both men told the police that the other man hit first. And both men told the police they acted in self-defense. JG had visible injuries and he had been the one that called the police. JG requested medical attention and was brought to the hospital. The police arrested JM at the scene and the police told JG that he would receive a notice to go to court.
On December 23, 2020 JM was arraigned in Newburyport District Court and his case was continued for a pre-trial hearing to January 27, 2020. JM was appointed a lawyer. JG received a Notice of a Criminal Complaint Application that had been filed by the police. The Notice informed JG that the police had filed an application against JG at the Court wherein the police were asking the Clerk-Magistrate of the Court to issue a criminal complaint against JG for Assault & Battery. The Notice further informed JG that a hearing would be held at the Court by a Clerk-Magistrate on January 31, 2020. JG met with and retained Attorney Robert Lewin of Andover. Attorney Lewin explained to JG that you never want to be in criminal court – especially in Newburyport District Court, the toughest District Court in Essex County. Attorney Lewin explained to JG that the only people who “win” in Criminal Court are the lawyers because the lawyers get paid to be there. Attorney Lewin explained to JG that if JM refused to testify against JG then it was very likely the case against JG would go away and JG would not be charged. Likewise, Attorney Lewin explained that if JG refused to testify against JM the case against JM would likely go away. JG told Attorney Lewin that he did not want to be charged and he had no problem with the case against JM being dismissed.
Attorney Lewin called the lawyer that had been appointed to represent JM and proposed that both men refuse to testify against the other in their respective cases. The public defender agreed with Attorney Lewin’s suggestion. Attorney Lewin called the police prosecutor. The police prosecutor represents the police department at the Clerk-Magistrate Hearing. The prosecutor said that if JM had no interest in going forward with the case against JG then the police would not press the matter forward at the Clerk-Magistrate Hearing. Attorney Lewin told the public defender for JM to speak with the Assistant DA and to tell the DA that Attorney Lewin represented JG and that JG was not going to testify against JM.
The date of JM’s pre-trial hearing was continued from January 27, 2020 to January 31, 2020 so that both cases were on for the same date. At 9:30 AM JG’s case was called before the Clerk-Magistrate. Attorney Lewin explained that JM (who was the “victim” in the case against JG) was represented by counsel and that he was refusing to testify, Attorney Lewin asked that the application for criminal complaint against JG be denied and that no criminal complaint be issued against JG. The Clerk-Magistrate asked the police prosecutor if he had a position and he said he had no objection to Attorney Lewin’s request. The Clerk-Magistrate then denied the application for a criminal complaint against JG. Attorney Lewin and JG then went into Courtroom No. 1. Attorney Lewin spoke with the Assistant District Attorney who was prosecuting the case against JM and told the Assistant DA that if called as a witness JG would not testify against JM. JM’s case was called and JM’s public defender explained that Attorney Lewin represented JG (the “victim” in the case against JM) and that JG was exercising his Fifth Amendment privilege not to testify. The Judge then dismissed the case against JM.
This case is a great example of the benefits of having years of experience and of knowing the court well. As a result of Attorney Lewin’s quick and methodical thinking both men walked away free. Attorney Lewin explained to JG that because the application for criminal complaint against JG was denied the following happened:
- NO criminal complaint was issued against JG.
- JG was NOT charged with any criminal offense.
- JG did NOT have to return to court to appear before a Judge.
- NO entry was made in the Criminal Record system.
- It was as if nothing at all happened.
JG was also happy that the criminal complaint against his roommate JM was dismissed. JG and Attorney Lewin left the Courthouse and JG gave Attorney Lewin a big thank you. It was a good day!