On January 14, 2017 DM, a 28 year old male social worker, met his 28 year old girlfriend after she finished work as a waitress. They met at a bar in Salem. They had a few drinks and then moved to a second bar where the drinking continued. At closing time they left the bar and after picking up roast beef sandwiches headed back to DM’s apartment in Beverly. They had recently made a commitment to one another that they would not see other people romantically and they both stated they wanted to make a real go of the relationship. They arrived at DM’s apartment, went in, and began to eat their sandwiches. It was a good night; but then the girlfriends phone started buzzing. It was 1:30 in the morning. DM grabbed the phone and ran into the bathroom and locked the door. He looked at the most recent string of text messages and they were from a man that the girlfriend had been seeing. He knew she was not being sincere with him. DM was angry and hurt and came out of the bathroom and demanded that she leave. The girlfriend grabbed DM’s Christmas tree and threw it to the floor causing it to break. She then grabbed the corner of DM’s wide screen TV. DM ran over and grabbed the other corner of the TV. The girlfriend claimed that DM then pushed her down a flight of stairs. DM claimed she tripped and fell down the stairs. In any event she did end up down the stairs and her teeth had actually punctured through her lower lip. There was blood on her clothes and on the wall. She got up an left the apartment. She drove herself to the hospital. Her lip was sutured and photographs were taken of her face and lip. The hospital report stated that she was intoxicated and reported that her blood alcohol level was over twice the legal limit.
The next morning she went to the Beverly Police and reported the incident. The police obtained a warrant for DM’s arrest and he was taken into custody and arraigned in Salem District Court and held on $1,500.00 bail. His family posted the bail and he was released.
DM consulted with and retained Attorney Robert Lewin from North Andover. Attorney Lewin and DM went over the facts of the case in great detail. DM was able to get a picture of the broken Christmas Tree and the damaged television. Photos were also taken of the location of the television right at the top of the stairs. Attorney Lewin pointed out to DM that his girlfriend had a Fifth Amendment privilege to not to testify. If she did testify she could incriminate herself in no less than three crimes: malicious destruction of the Christmas tree, malicious destruction of the television, and operating under the influence. Attorney Lewin went to the Court and filed a Motion for permission to contact the girlfriend. (The Judge, at DM’s arraignment, had ordered DM to have no contact – directly or indirectly – with the girlfriend.) The Judge granted Attorney Lewin permission to contact the girlfriend. Attorney Lewin did contact the girlfriend and explained to her how her testifying against DM could put herself in trouble. Attorney Lewin followed up the phone conversation with a letter to the girlfriend explaining in detail her Fifth Amendment privilege not to testify in the case.
Attorney Lewin thoroughly prepared DM for a trial in the case. We were uncertain if the girlfriend would testify or would refuse. DM was not a good “public speaker”; Attorney Lewin worked with DM on how to testify, how to look at the jury, how to answer the questions. Two very lengthy trial preparation sessions were had. DM was ready and prepared.
On March 9, 2017 DM and Attorney Lewin appeared at Salem District Court. The case was called and Attorney Lewin answered ready for trial. The District Attorney answered that the “victim” was there and they were ready. I explained to the Judge that the complaining witness (I don’t like to use the term “victim”) had a Fifth Amendment privilege and should be appointed a lawyer. The Judge appointed a lawyer for the girlfriend. Attorney Lewin explained to the lawyer the crimes that the girlfriend had committed. The lawyer spoke with the girlfriend and she then refused to testify. The Commonwealth could have still gone ahead with the trial but they chose not to.
Attorney Lewin moved to have the case dismissed and the Judge ordered the case dismissed. DM left the Courthouse that day very happy with the result. (As a postscript, after Court the girlfriend texted DM and wanted to get back together with him; he declined or at least so far he has declined.)