Memo to Mayor Bloomberg: Put a Sock in It

While I was gone last week, the judge announced the verdict in the "face slashing" trial of NY Senator Hiram Monserrate. (Background here.) Congrats to his lawyer, Joe Tacopina: it was not guilty on all felony counts, guilty only of the misdemeanor assault charge relating to the manner in which Monserrate forced his girlfriend out of the building to get her into the car to go to the hospital.

So, the state failed to prove Monserrate purposefully struck his girlfriend with a glass, broken or otherwise, or intended to hurt her. That hasn't stopped the domestic violence crowd from insisting Monserrate is an abuser and calling for his resignation from the Senate. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who's running for a third term for which he's invested $64 million so far, now adds his voice, calling Monserrate's actions "disgraceful, despicable, deplorable." I guess he thinks Monserrate should have left her on the floor bleeding instead of insisting she get medical care. What a cheap vote-getting ploy.

Tacopina responds politely, "...suggest[ing] Bloomberg is "another example of a politician speaking out without having a base of knowledge about the facts of the case or the law." I'll be less polite: The mayor should shut up. [More...]

This politician needs to get her facts straight as well:

“The justice system has determined that Mr. Monserrate has violated our laws and is guilty of a very disturbing and violent crime against a woman,” said Senator Liz Krueger, a Manhattan Democrat. “Domestic violence is domestic violence, guilt is guilt. "

Memo to Ms. Krueger: And not guilty is not guilty. Domestic violence is indeed a crime and a problem. Efforts to reduce it are not helped by inaccurate over-reactions to not guilty verdicts.

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    Yeah, he's a big hero for taking her to (5.00 / 3) (#3)
    by tigercourse on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 03:43:06 PM EST
    see a doctor after he slashed her. Slow clap.

    There's a difference between a court of law (where I likely wouldn't have voted to convict because the victim's new testimony created reasonable doubt) and the court of public oppinion where you can say what you want.

    Oh that terrible, terrible "domestic violence crowd"

    It's common enough (5.00 / 3) (#16)
    by Fabian on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 06:44:49 PM EST
    for children to be taken for medical treatment after (my favorite) "she rode her tricycle down the stairs".  

    Taking someone to seek medical attention isn't proof they didn't intend harm - it sometimes means they were more afraid of the consequences if they didn't get treatment.  


    Bloomberg is an elected official (none / 0) (#24)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:24:34 PM EST
    with a duty to respect the law. He's not just a member of the public spouting off.

    Seems like he is respecting the law (5.00 / 2) (#29)
    by nycstray on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 10:13:23 PM EST
    but voicing what he thinks of the guys actions. What exactly did he say that disrespected the law? This was said after the verdict, right?

    not, however, the same (5.00 / 2) (#13)
    by cpinva on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 05:27:04 PM EST
    as actual innocence.

    And not guilty is not guilty.

    this merely means the state failed to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that he was guilty of the charge, not that he didn't commit the act.

    the girlfriend's refusal to participate, and her changing stories (not unusual in domestic violence cases) pretty much doomed the prosecution from the start.

    i'll be curious to see how long it takes, before he has another "accident", resulting in physical harm to her.

    And, In Fact (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by The Maven on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 05:54:07 PM EST
    State Supreme Court Justice William Erlbaum, who decided the case, made that very clear:
    "The American verdict of 'not guilty' can indicate one of two things," he said. "Innocence, or the case is not proven. In the case of these [felony assault counts], the case has not been proven.

    "There are only two people who have actual knowledge of what happened in that apartment. That is Karla Giraldo and the defendant."

    This is not unlike a case on which I was once a juror, where we returned a verdict of not guilty for four homicide charges (relating to one death) because the prosecution's witnesses gave testimony that prevented us from crossing the 'reasonable doubt' threshold.  All twelve of us, however, were convinced of the defendant's direct and willing involvement in the events of the murder, just not that he was the one who'd fired the fatal shots.  Thus, not proven.  Given the convictions on the misdemeanor counts, Monserrate should not be viewed as a persecuted innocent by any stretch and cannot credibly continue to hold office as a matter of public trust.

    no verdict in a criminal trial (none / 0) (#33)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 02:13:50 AM EST
    is one of factual innocence. It's never guilty or innocent, but guilty or not guilty. Not guilty, as you point out, means the state failed to prove its case. Trials are merely a testing of the evidence: Did the prosecution prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt? If yes, the person is guilty. If not, the person is not guilty. But one is presumed innocent until and unless a judge or jury returns a verdict of guilty. If that verdict never happens, the person remains innocent in the eyes of the law.

    Riiiiiiight (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Astraea on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 05:33:38 PM EST
    Just to be sure people know what you're claiming is the
    act of a person concerned for a loved one:  

    "In the next segment, two hours later, Ms. Giraldo, in baggy pants and a coat borrowed from Mr. Monserrate, according to his lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, is seen holding a towel to her face, exiting the apartment and descending the stairs, followed by Mr. Monserrate in flapping shirttails and a baseball cap, carrying a jacket.

    At the bottom of the landing, Ms. Giraldo lunges for a door -- she is frantically ringing Ms. Loudon's bell, according to the neighbor's testimony -- until she is yanked away by Mr. Monserrate. The towel falls onto a step. She grabs for the banister, but he has a firm grip on her arm, and propels her out as a leg flies to the side.

    An exterior camera picks them up coming through the door. Ms. Giraldo's face, in close-up, is contorted as she appears to be crying. She tries to slow her exit by grabbing the door frame, but Mr. Monserrate pulls her out."

    That's actually in line (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Fabian on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 06:53:01 PM EST
    with the self defense philosophy

    "Don't go anywhere with an assailant.  Help may not be at hand where you are, but the minute you get into a car, you do not know where you will end up, which may be far, far away from anyone and anything."

    An argument so long and so loud that their neighbor put in earplugs to try to get some sleep?  A loving relationship would be more plausible if it was the bed springs squeaking that kept her up!


    Sure is a shame how OJ was called a murderer (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 08:14:30 PM EST
    I mean he was acquited criminally.

    why have trials at all (none / 0) (#23)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:22:24 PM EST
    when we could just call out the firing squad based on the public's personal dislike of the alleged offense? Who cares if they prove it in court with facts is what you seem to be saying.  

    OJ wasn't subjected to a criminal penalty, right? (none / 0) (#25)
    by andgarden on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:25:59 PM EST
    Last I checked, we don't all have to base our opinions on the outcome of court proceedings.

    As to OJ, I have no comment.


    you are free to express your opinions (none / 0) (#30)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:00:10 PM EST
    that someone found not guilty really is guilty on other sites. This is a criminal defense site whose central purpose is to preserve the rights of those accused of crime, support candidates and legislation that furthers those rights and oppose those that don't. I am not going to host comments that presume guilt or label beople guilty, before they have been found guilty and especially once they have been found not guilty.

    If that stifles conversation, so be it. It is my blog. It's important to me that the site's central purpose not be weakened by those with a different agenda.  

    With respect to this post, which is about Mayor Bloomberg's comments, it's one thing to disagree with me about whether he should keep his mouth shut, it's another to insist Monserrate is guilty of something a court found him not guilty of.


    Fair enough (none / 0) (#31)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 11:39:58 PM EST
    Though I would point out you made no such defense of the "lifestyle guru" who had the clients die in the Sauna- going so far as to mock one of the proffered explanations.

    he hasn't been charged with a crime (none / 0) (#32)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 02:08:44 AM EST
    and I did not opine on his criminal liability. I reported the news that the deaths are being treated as homicides.  I sincerely doubt there was any intent to cause death so if charged, yes, I suspect I'll post in defense of him.

    My "mocking" of the channeler had nothing to do with the guy who led the retreats. (The paper reported, "a channeler at the retreat last Friday said the deceased had an out-of-body experience during the sweat lodge ceremony and "were having so much fun that they chose not to come back.") I took that to mean the channeler was saying the people who died left their bodies in  transcendental way but were having so much fun they decided to leave them permanently by dying. If you don't find that a curious explanation, I don't know what to tell you. If I read it wrong, please enlighten me (no pun intended.)


    Jeralyn (none / 0) (#37)
    by Watermark on Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 11:23:57 AM EST
    I'm not violating his rights.  I agree that he is not guilty.  But he does not have a right to prevent anyone from saying anything based on what probably happened, which is a different standard which I think should never be extended to jury trials.  As long as it never extends to harassment or vigilantism, I think it's alright to hold a personal opinion about this.

    hmmm... (none / 0) (#36)
    by Watermark on Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 11:19:54 AM EST
    Jeralyn, I'm not hanging him here.  Do I think he is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?  No.  Do I think he probably slashed his girlfriends face?  Yes.  I agree that state shouldn't punish him, but where individual citizens draw the line is another matter (as long as they restrict it to vocal comments and don't resort to vigilantism).

    Who will defend the good name of Ike Turner (5.00 / 2) (#20)
    by Socraticsilence on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 08:30:48 PM EST
    never convicted of spousal abuse.

    Don't forget Robert Blake. "I couldn't have (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by tigercourse on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 08:35:27 PM EST
    shot her, I was getting my gun".

    For the Record (5.00 / 3) (#28)
    by Randinho on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:37:53 PM EST
    I live about three blocks from Monserrate. In the comments to this post, Jeralyn, you made the following comment in response to my belief that Monserrate took Giraldo to a hospital far away from his neighborhood to a hospital outside of the city to avoid publicity:

    Joe will bring out why he went to that hospital and think you should wait to hear the explanation before you say you don't buy it.

    His argument was that Monserrate had been treated at Long Island Jewish Hospital once, so rather than take his beloved, "accidentally" cut, bleeding from a facial wound cut all the way to her skull, girlfriend to a hospital in the district where he had been a city councilman (with an excellent trauma center), he decided to take her in a car to a hospital a forty minute drive away, bypassing other hospitals as well such as Lenox Hill, Mt. Sinai, New York Hospital, Beth Israel, Roosevelt Hospital, Bellevue, NYU Medical Center, etc.

    Tacopina tried to introduce hospital ratings, but the judge wouldn't allow it. If he wanted to do that, he should have put Monserrate on the stand, but credit to Tacopina for being far too smart to do that.

    I guess he thinks Monserrate should have left her on the floor bleeding instead of insisting she get medical care.

    With all due respect, Jeralyn, he should have taken her to the nearest hospital a few short blocks away, the only one in the Borough of Queens with a trauma center with the rating of trauma Center of Excellence. He was hiding something. Don't make him into something he isn't.

    Ditto. (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Fabian on Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 04:27:55 AM EST
    I know where the best trauma centers are in my city - the kind you take "OMG!" emergencies to.  If you turned an ankle, you could go to an average hospital and be fine.  Plus it beats having to be transferred to an appropriate facility.

    A forty minute drive?  That's to the nearest hospital in rural areas.  I could probably tag the three major hospitals in my area in forty minutes, or all of them if I tried hard enough.  


    He sure... (none / 0) (#1)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 03:05:21 PM EST
    is making a habit of sticking his snout into criminal matters to score points with the public...bad form.

    Its kinda scaring me how hard a sell he is making for a third term...can't be good.

    Yeah, if he gets a 3rd term (none / 0) (#2)
    by nycstray on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 03:27:04 PM EST
    he's gonna turn into the boogey monster . . .

    How would you like him to campaign? (none / 0) (#4)
    by tigercourse on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 03:45:27 PM EST
    "Vote for me. Or the other guy. It doesn't really matter"

    There is campaigning... (none / 0) (#12)
    by kdog on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 04:51:57 PM EST
    and there is what Bloomberg is doing, I've never seen a hard-sell like this for a mayoral race...he even called in the Ghoul to tell us that if we don't re-elect Bloomy the muggers and/or AQ will get us.

    The dude is scarin' me for real...


    Monserrate is electoral poison (none / 0) (#5)
    by andgarden on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 03:48:23 PM EST
    He'll be lucky if the NY Senate doesn't expel him.

    Given the NY Senate's historic level of (none / 0) (#6)
    by tigercourse on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 03:51:44 PM EST
    dysfunction, I'm sure he's right back on track for a leadership position.

    I'd chuckle, but that's not even funny. . . (none / 0) (#7)
    by andgarden on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 04:18:19 PM EST
    I had the same reaction . . . (none / 0) (#8)
    by nycstray on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 04:25:42 PM EST
    In all seriousness, I could see a situation (none / 0) (#11)
    by tigercourse on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 04:36:00 PM EST
    in which a couple of his supporters in the Senate threaten to flip if he's expelled. The state can't go through that again. So, he might have an actual out there (at least until the election).

    Is there a written ruling? Is one required? (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 04:35:32 PM EST

    then you should recognize (none / 0) (#22)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:14:59 PM EST
    that Monserrate took her to a hospital, the choice of which had no relevance to his guilt on the misdemeanor he was convicted of. The count he was convicted of, as I said, related only to the force he used to get her out of the building to put her in car and get her treatment. You might have a point had he stopped for ice cream on the way, but he didn't. Even if he did choose that hospital to reduce the chances of publicity, he introduced medical records showing he had been treated there in the past. There was no testimony she suffered greater injuries due to the 15 minutes extra drive time.

    The medical personnel failed to write down any incriminating statements of what the the girlfriend told them until weeks later. The judge rightfully failed to credit it, particularly in light of the girlfriend's denial. The state didn't prove its case. He's not guilty of anything except forcefully removing her from the building to get her to a hospital when she didn't want to go. The video showing that also showed by the time they got outside the building, they were walking together and he had his arm around her.

    Accidents happen. It was the state's job to prove this was something else and they failed. Montserrate is entitled to the benefit of the ensuing verdict, and it doesn't include being branded despicable and a violent attacker of women.

    Yes, accidents happen (5.00 / 2) (#27)
    by ZtoA on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:37:44 PM EST
    but it needs to be witnessed and monitored. As someone who was part of a family who stood helplessly by during "domestic violence" until there was a double murder that did not escape a legal loophole (for the first time), it is frustrating to hear the letter of the law pitted against the spirit and the deeper meanings of laws. Domestic violence laws have been hard won. I understand you are an excellent defense lawyer, but you undoubtedly know that sometimes defense lawyers enable horrible crimes, and that some amount of gray area needs to be given a situation. Demeaning people who defend victims of horrible crimes as a "crowd" is not correct.

    Here is what I don't understand (5.00 / 1) (#35)
    by vml68 on Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 11:11:15 AM EST
    If it was an accident, why was she frantically ringing the neighbor's door bell?
    And why did Montserrate pull her away and not even stop to pick up the bloody towel she was holding to the wound on her face?

    I understand respecting the law and a Judge/Jury's decision but they are not infallible. Many times justice is not carried out and you have written many posts highlighting those cases. If it is ok for you to have an opinion when you feel there has been a miscarriage of justice, why can't the rest of us?


    I was just thinking (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by Fabian on Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 11:32:42 AM EST
    about all the instances I knew of, just involving family, where someone was injured and had to be taken to get medical treatment.  Generally, it's the same scenario: injury, run to the nearest sink for water, wrap something around/against injury, assess injury, designate driver, make sure victim is ready for transport (not bleeding all over the car or a distraction to the driver) and leave.

    This isn't to say that the driver and victim were both calm and cool, but they generally are in agreement as to the course of action even if they are upset and anxious.


    Amen! (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by vml68 on Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 11:58:22 AM EST
    This isn't to say that the driver and victim were both calm and cool, but they generally are in agreement as to the course of action even if they are upset and anxious.

    How many people with a deep cut on their face that almost causes them to lose an eye are going to put up a struggle when being taken to a hospital? Unless of course they have reason to fear the person taking them to the hospital even more than the damage from the injury.


    Actually, I can think of one circumstance (none / 0) (#41)
    by Inspector Gadget on Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 04:01:38 PM EST
    only. Well, maybe two.

    Watching the guy on those security cameras is really disturbing. If he held office in my state, I'd be leading a charge to get him off taxpayer paid payrolls and benefits.


    Whether Monserrate should resign... (none / 0) (#26)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Mon Oct 19, 2009 at 09:30:25 PM EST
    ... is not a criminal matter, it's a political matter, and Bloomberg's job is politics. I think he has every right to weigh in on it. I think this is very different than the Plaxico Burress case, where I did think the mayor was trying to influence criminal proceedings, and was out of line.

    Monserrate's Guilt Has Been Determined (none / 0) (#38)
    by msaroff on Tue Oct 20, 2009 at 11:27:38 AM EST
    He is guilty of misdemeanor assault.  Based on the video I've seen of him bouncing Karla Giraldo off the walls as he took her out the doors, it's a fair cop of the ex-cop.

    As to the other charges, he was adjudicated not guilty, and that is the end of that.

    As to the politics, it's up to Mr. Monserrate and his fellow New York Senators, though both of New York's US Senators have called for him to quit, and the New York State Senate has convened a committee to investigate the matter.

    The Democrats need to move aggressively on this, and get him out. it's a no win situation for them, which is why the Republicans are so quiet about it.