MA State Police Scandal That Isn’t a Scandal

It is with interest that I read of the “scandal” that now seems to involve the Massachusetts State Police. As best I can tell some lawyer represents one, two or more troopers and he seems intent on suing one, two or upwards of dozens of people in federal court because of what happened. But for the life of me I don’t understand what he is looking to accomplish. To be frank, I don’t see that anything particularly wrong has been done.

As best I understand it a woman age 30 who is the daughter of a sitting judge was involved in a crash. A trooper arrived on the scene to investigate. He quickly came to the conclusion she was operating her vehicle in an impaired manner and was obviously under the influence of some drugs, alcohol or both. He found a heroin kit in the car and saw she had an outstanding warrant for a heroin charge. When he brought her to the station she had upwards of three times the amount of alcohol in her system than is acceptable.

During the investigation the trooper interacted with her. She failed the sobriety tests he gave her. She also made some salacious and gross statements which reflected badly on her.

She was arrested and charged with the driving offense. The salacious statements she made while intoxicated may have had some evidentiary value in the sense that someone in a sober state would never have made them. The trooper included those statements in his report. Maybe he thought he had no choice for if the case went to trial and he had to testify to the circumstances surrounding her arrest he needed to include them. But if he left them out of his report a good defense lawyer would note their absence and suggest it was a recent fabrication. But this case seemed so iron clad in reality the statements added nothing to proving the charges.

The report was filed with the paperwork and criminal complaints issued, If the report became public, the woman’s statements reflected so badly on her that she would be disgraced. Ironically, because of actions taken by the trooper’s superiors the matter became a cause célèbre giving her widespread infamy.

Someone when reading the report decided that the salacious statements were not necessary to include in the report. I suppose the reasons was the embarrassment that would come to the woman’s father, the judge, and the woman herself when sober. The judge denies any involvement in the matter. Like any parent whose child gets trapped in using drugs he suffers on a daily basis hoping against hope she would somehow escape from the grip of the drugs.

That person who read the report contacted the trooper’s boss who ordered the trooper to clean up his report and to submit another one without the salacious statements. That was done over the trooper’s objection. The redacted report was substituted for the original with the permission of the court, and the woman eventually pleaded guilty to the charges.

The lawyer representing the trooper and others filed a complaint in the federal court. He made sure a Boston Globe reporter received a copy of it and perhaps briefed her. She gave it much of the publicity with little concern for the judge’s daughter. At last report the governor, attorney general, the ethics committee and all the king’s men are investigating this.

Why?

The bottom line is at worst someone wanted to save the judge embarrassment.  Is that a crime? I suggest not. The case was not affected in any way by the redacted report. No money exchanged hands. The woman received the sentence she would have received had the report not been changed.

Would this report have been redacted if it were not a judge’s daughter. Probably not. But any judge who handled the case would know that she was a judge’s daughter and acted accordingly.

What is the trooper looking to accomplish? How was he hurt? If he received a bad report take it out of his file and be done with it.

I am at a loss to understand the harm or the big ado about this. Are we not to take into consideration how things affect other people? Is there not to be any compassion for people in difficulty? Aren’t we supposed to help people addicted to drugs and not step on them?

Maybe its me and I’m missing the point. I do know however if i was in the position to see that report regardless of who the woman’s father was I would have done my best to have it sealed. I’d not have asked the trooper or any of his superiors to change it.

Why destroy a woman’s reputation by putting in a report things she said not necessary to prove the case while on the edge of sanity? The offense of driving under the influence has penalties attached to it that are imposed by a judge. Nothing justifies imposing other sanctions on a person such as holding her up to ridicule.

20 thoughts on “MA State Police Scandal That Isn’t a Scandal

  1. “Why destroy a woman’s reputation by putting in a report things she said not necessary to prove the case while on the edge of sanity?”

    I think she is doing an excellent job of destroying her own reputation. She is also destroying her parents lives. Obscenity pales in comparison to injecting heroin into your veins.

  2. “Would this report have been redacted if it were not a judge’s daughter. Probably not. ”

    So much for equal justice under the law.

    If the intoxicated driver had contested the charges, would your position be different. As written, I perceive a theme of of “the end justifies the means”, especially for the connected who do embarrassing things.

    1. Ed:

      Would it have ever come to light if it wasn’t a judge’s daughter. Isn’t the daughter’s relationship which makes this newsworthy. It now seems within an hour after her arrest the state police brass were aware she had been arrested. By now you should know there is not equal justice under the law. Go to any court in the state and try to park in a spot reserved for a judge.

      1. Matt: I remember when the State House had “reserved” parking for the Media; Billy Bulger did away with it. I always remember one of the closest lifelong friends (since 2nd grade) at Motley and his father who owned a Safe & Vault Business in Park Square used to curse the reserved parking spaces for the Press.

        However, for a Court to reserve a Parking Space for judge or a the Capital for legislators, is not “unequal justice” . . . it’s a wise appropriation of public resources . . . it’s economical: saves time! Plus safety concerns!

  3. Once she ” propositioned ” him , all caution dictated he give a comprehensive account of her statements . This covers his back if the voluble vixen should ” confabulate ” further along the process .

    Insofar as any ” rash ” statements go they could be considered ” excited utterance .” Are they evidential ! Should the Trooper ” sort them through ? ” Early Days ; the impish Ali Bibaud may have just left her Father , the good Judge Bibaud on the kitchen floor after sticking a knife in his heart .
    Her statements could be evidence of a state of mind during commission of any crime , major felony or embarrassing misdemeanor . The report should disinterestedly document what transpires at the point of contact with the suspect .

    Trooper Sceviour was placed in an untenable position . There is much that rankles me about the way Troopers are set upon each other , careers ruined, and all tracing back to a heavy handed bungling D.A. early on deciding that he could call in a favor with the Colonel . The matter is a disgrace , an embarrassment , and an avoidable situation .

  4. It might be an ongoing Union vs Management issue and this was a perfect time to create
    A “gotcha “moment. Perhaps the administration and the A.G. Don’t want to cross the
    Rank and file on the issue. This is all conjecture on my part however.Arresting officers are taught to be thorough in their reporting .A more experienced trooper might choose
    to omit statements recognized as not germain to the offense which is clearly the case
    here.And since the arrest seems so solid,based on what I’ve read,this would have been
    resolved by a plea agreement and the defendants statements,spoken while in the grip
    Of heroin withdrawal would not be needed as evidence. Either way,it’s too late now.

  5. The Trooper is not pulling her over for a personal history quiz . There is a window in which they meet . A crime has been perceived, probable cause is there , and the Trooper pulls her over . She makes statements that are personally embarrassing, but it is not the duty of , nor the expectation of the Trooper by his or her superiors that he attend only to utterances that are ” germane ” to the charge . What is germane in this case is that , regardless , of whether one thinks that a ” more experienced Trooper ” would have been more tactful in his reporting , once he entered the report on a system that vouchsafes freedom from any type of illegal revision by Brass , then the System has its own irrefutable logic : I AM INVIOLABLE TO THE MACHINATIONS OF POLITICAL FAVOR AND CONNECTNESS ; BREAK THE ALGORITHM , PAY THE PRICE ! THIS IS NOT YOUR MOTHER’S STATE TROOPS ANYMORE ! In all due respect, Judge .

      1. A correct spelling your Honor . Not set off to contrast with a minor phonetic error , but rather to emphasize that this is a key word here .

    1. The essence of police/citizen relationship is giving discretion to the police officer on what to charge, whether to charge, and what to put in his or her report. That is a good aspect of our justice system and is legally recognized in allowing a police officer in a traffic situation to decide whether to issue a ticket or give a warning. Driving in Boston not too long ago pulled over by Boston police officer for being in a right hand turn lane but not knowing it and continuing straight at the corner of Columbia Road and Massachusetts Avenue. He just took my info, no conversation other than to tell me what I had done. He came back and handed me my stuff back and said “don’t do it again. Get going.” No ticket, no nothing. Was that wrong? He didn’t know me from Adam and had me cold. Should I have told him: “hold on there officer, I want to pay the price.”
      I have always believed the justice system should be tempered greatly with mercy. I suppose you would say these are my mother’s state troopers” Problem is the humane factor of giving someone a break has been driven out of the system even when there was no corruption associated with it.

      1. My mother was merciless . I do not know about her ” State Troopers .”
        Generally speaking mercy is not the exclusive prerogative of either sex . If the BPO did not know you from Adam when he stopped you , he certainly had your jacket by the time he walked back to your Corvette .

  6. I agree with Matt, the case should have been sealed: avoiding unnecessary embarrassment to the arrested woman and her family. We all sympathize with drunks, druggies and their families who endure the bulk of the suffering. At least many of us do!

    I agree with John, it’s not a simple matter when “special consideration” is given to the family of a judge, politician or celebrity. It’s unequal justice; it’s unfair, unprincipled and unconstitutional.

    I agree that Superior Officers should not have demanded the original report be altered. I see where, while preserving and attaching the original, they may submit a “more relevant” final report to the Court.

    I can see where, with the concurrence of the Court, the final record may reflect that the “spontaneous utterances” of a heavily intoxicated person should be given little weight or none; (no probative value). But the record should never be expunged, considering such statements could become “probative” or “evidentiary” in subsequent administrative, civil or criminal actions. As they have.

    As always, I learn a lot from Matt’s posts and the comments of his learned interlocutors.

    Press on! Do good and fear no man! Keep questioning, wondering and posting!!!

    1. Bill:

      Thanks for the nice words. I knew this guy who was a probation officer. He would go out of his way to help people who got themselves into jams so that they would great a break. I often wonder if the calls he made back then asking the police to give “consideration” to someone that had been arrested would not have gotten him in difficulty today. I learned from him that good people sometime slip up and deserve to get a pass. Later I’d hear from some people who knew I knew him and they were hard working guys in their communities who had served in the armed forces and come home and got good jobs, raised families, etc. They’d tell me that when first looking for work they worried that the arrested in their teens would be used against them when they applied for a job. They went to the court to look up there record. There wasn’t one. The probation officer and the police after the arrest decided not to issue a complaint. Never could happen today but should.

  7. Still, it’s good to help the less powerful, give them a break, an extra helping hand. But it’s never good to give preferential treatment primarily or only to the rich and powerful.

    As the quality of mercy is twice blessed; equal justice, especially in lower courts and on the front lines, does not mean always following the letter of the law. It should mean that justice is not bent only or predominantly to benefit the powerful.

  8. If you are in court in front of this judge and it’s your word against the State Police, and they have done this judge a personal favor, that’s corruption.

    1. Bob:
      Live in the real world. If you are in court and it is your word against a state trooper unless you have strong facts to show the trooper is wrong the judge is going to believe the trooper. No judge is going to do what you suggest and say “these staties helped my daughter so I will believe whatever they say.”

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