On November 30, 2017, SO, a 32 year old pipe-fitter from Methuen, MA, got into an argument with his live-in girlfriend. She began to break things in their apartment and then she attacked him. HE called 911 and asked that she be removed from the apartment. The Methuen police responded quickly to the apartment. According to the police report she told the police that SO had grabbed her by the throat and dragged her out of one room and into the kitchen where he proceeded to hold her down on the floor. When he finally let her up, the police report continues, he blocked her way in the apartment. SO told the police that she had smashed a picture frame and he denied ever grabbing her or holding her down. The police arrested SO and charged him with one count of Domestic Assault & Battery. On December 1, 2017 SO was arraigned in Lawrence District Court and his case was continued to January 19, 2018 for a pre-trial hearing.
SO met with and retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover. It was obvious to Attorney Lewin that the girlfriend had a Fifth Amendment Privilege not to testify. She had committed at least two crimes: smashing the picture frame (malicious destruction to property) and assault and battery (she had struck him). Attorney Lewin met with the girlfriend and explained the workings of the Fifth Amendment Privilege. She told Attorney Lewin that she did not want to testify and would exercise her privilege. Attorney Lewin then went and met with the Assistant District Attorney. As is their custom, the DA’s Office refused to commit to dismissing the case at the pre-trial hearing on January 19, 2018. The DA always prefers to continue a domestic assault & battery case to the trial date. Their hope is that the complainant (the girlfriend in this case) will have a change of mind and will decide to testify.
On January 19, 2018 SO, Attorney Lewin, and the girl-friend appeared in the pre-trial session at Lawrence District Court. Attorney Lewin told the Judge that the complaining witness was present in the Courtroom and that she had a valid claim of a Fifth Amendment Privilege and that she wished to exercise her Fifth Amendment Privilege. The Judge appointed a lawyer to speak with the complaining witness. The District Attorney objected. The DA pointed out that the case was not on for trial but was scheduled for pre-trial; the DA pointed out that the complaining witness could change her mind between the date of the pre-trial and the trial date. Attorney Lewin argued that the complaining witness had taken the day off from work to come to court, that the complaining witness was resolute that she did not want to testify and that she would exercise her Fifth Amendment privilege. Attorney Lewin argued that it would be a waste or everyone’s time and resources to make everyone come back to court on a later date to do what could be done on January 19. The Judge agreed with Attorney Lewin. The Judge accepted the girlfriend’s exercise of her Fifth Amendment Privilege and the Judge then asked the DA if they could go forward with the case without the testimony of the girlfriend. The DA reported they could not. The Judge then ordered the case dismissed.