Flower Power- a rose by any other name is still a rose, however a flower pot holder left undescribed cannot uphold a conviction

It can be “flimsy and plastic . . . made of wrought iron” or something in between (like a metal Moose). Unfortunately for Detective Nadeau, someone forgot to describe the flower-pot holder that was wielded by Nathaniel A. Lewis as he was placed into custody.

A recent unpublished Appeals Court decision vacated Mr. Lewis’ conviction for Assault by means of a Dangerous Weapon (to wit flower-pot holder) “[d]ue to a failure of proof on the composition and make-up of the alleged dangerous weapon”. Apparently, neither the flower-pot holder, nor any pictures were entered into evidence. The only testimonial description of the weapon came from Detective Nadeau, who testified that the object was “small, maybe the size of a volleyball, I guess, but not as — as circular.” And, we believe, most certainly not a metal Moose.

The court stated, “[w]hile a plastic object could be dangerous as used, we note that here the holder caused no harm. Moreover, the absence of adequate testimony indicating the physical structure and composition of the pot holder created a level of ambiguity too severe for the defendant’s conviction of assault by means of a dangerous weapon to stand.”

Fortunately justice did bloom, Mr. Lewis’ conviction for assault and battery on a police officer was affirmed and the ADW flower-pot was reduced to the lesser included charge of assault.



About Attorney John J. MacLaughlan

John MacLaughlan is Massachusetts licensed attorney as well as a Boston police officer. John is currently assigned to the Youth Violence Strike Force (Gang Unit). He is a graduate of the Massachusetts School of Law with a concentration in Labor Law. He holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell as well as a Bachelors Degree in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. John has taught Defensive Tactics, Firearms, Use of Force, Applied Patrol Procedures, and Police Response to Active Shooters to sworn police officers and police academy recruits. Prior to becoming a Boston Police Officer, John served for 9 years as a police officer in Lowell, where he was a member of the Police Dive Team and Patrol Rifle Team.
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