Thursday, June 5, 2008

Dangers of Hysteria

Here is yours truly appealing to the media and public to lay off my client who was the victim of false accusations and hysteria by both the media and witnesses.

He was a youth coach of many sports and beloved by both his players and their parents. During football season, he was coaching a rec league team when his son (age 12) was hit by a larger, older (age 13) player from his own team during a scrimmage with an illegal "chop block." This is a hit from behind that is very dangerous and often, as here, results in serious injury. While is son was writhing on the ground, and the other boy (who had done this before to others and was warned about it) was laughing about it, my now angry client rushed to attend to his son. In his way was the other boy who he pushed aside and injured him. Both boys went to the hospital but the attacker was back practicing the next day. My client's son was out for a week.

The day it happened, blanket media coverage ensued because one parent went on the news and claimed (falsely per many other witnesses - including the other coaches) that my client picked the other boy up over his head, spun him around and slammed him to the ground - WWF style. The ever hungry local media went for it in a big way and the false story stuck. Ultimately, despite all evidence to the contrary, he was forced to plead to battery and was sentenced to 24 days jail. He felt he had no choice because the coverage was literally ruining his life - he was threatened at home, his children were harrassed at school and he lost 2 jobs. He was also banned from ALL coaching and even attending school events his own children were involved in! There is no doubt that had the media circus not ensued, none of this would have occured.

The real message here? If you are caught up in the passion of a media storm....the "witnesses" who make it onto the news are more important than the supposedly calmer, rationale court process. I did my best to blunt this affect but the public's limited attention span is going to believe the first thing they hear and inquire no farther....DA's and court's, ever mindful of news coverage of their actions, are undoubtedly influenced by this. It's a steep hill I hope no readers of this blog ever needs to climb!

News: TMJ4 -

See also:
Battery Defined

John A. Birdsall, Birdsall Law Offices, S.C.
135 W. Wells St., Ste 214, Milwaukee, WI 53203
414.831.5465 -

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