Yesterday morning on Fox & Friends, Peter "Zebbler" Berdovsky and a legal analyst from NYC were asked if "the punishment fit the crime".
Since there was NO crime and NO punishment, I won't ask that question; but, rather whether, considering what happened (as summarized below), you think the resolution was fair:
- You remember the traffic delays and concern when the media called what was going on in and around Boston on January 31, 2007, a "bomb scare" or "terror alert".
- Berdovsky and Sean Stevens were arrested that night, charged with a felony and a misdemeanor, held overnight and released from Charlestown District Court on bail the following morning.
- Their families were required to tie up $5000 bail for 2 1/2 months while the defendants' charges were pending.
- The costs of the public safety operations were estimated at $1.2 million.
- Turner Broadcasting (parent company of the Cartoon Network, which hired Interference Inc., which in turn hired Berdovsky & Stevens) apologized and paid $2 million to the Cities of Boston, Cambridge, Somerville & Charlestown and to the MBTA Police.
- Since Berdovsky and Stevens did not have "intent to cause anxiety, unrest, fear or personal discomfort to any person or group of persons" (http://www.mass.gov/legis/laws/mgl/266-102a.5.htm) and since there was a recognized, legitimate purpose, protected by the First Amendment, in the actions they took, they should not have been able to be found guilty of the charges brought.
- Berdovsky performed 80 hours of community service and Stevens performed 60 hours at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital (with excellent reports from SRH of their work and commitment there).
- They both apologized for the fear, confusion and inconvenience that the ad campaign caused here but that they did not foresee and could not have anticipated.
- On May 11, 2007, the Attorney General nolle prosequied the charges, ending the case.
- She asserted that the resolution was better for all involved than would have been the result if they had proceeded to trial rather than the "Restorative Justice" (see http://www.macucc.org/emj/restorative_justice.htm) disposition that was agreed upon.
So, was it a fair resolution?
Or, in Restorative Justice terms: Did it return the injured parties, the actors and the community to their positions before the harm and restore them to right relationship with each other?
[In future blog posts I will be relating the facts of children's and family law cases (mine and others) and seeking your opinions about the fairness of those resolutions.]