52 RI Bar J., No. 3, Pg. 23 (November, 2003). The Long Arm Of The Law.

AuthorFrederick D. Massie

Rhode Island Bar Journal

Volume 52.

52 RI Bar J., No. 3, Pg. 23 (November, 2003).

The Long Arm Of The Law

The Long Arm Of The LawFrederick D. MassieFrederick D. Massie is Managing Editor of the Rhode Island Bar Journal and Director of Communications for the Rhode Island Bar Association.Due to an unfortunate coin toss at a tollbooth basket on the Massachusetts Turnpike seventeen years ago in 1985, or possibly a malfunctioning toll register, and alerted by the lens of a mindless robotic camera, the hammer of justice began its ever-so-slow descent toward your humble communicator's head. How the hammer was set into motion is pure speculation since your correspondent has no recollection of, and never received any official notice regarding, the alleged crime until that fateful day, seventeen years later. So it goes.

However, returning to the immediate past. Your hero, blissfully singing along to a tune on the radio and drumming happily away upon his steering wheel, was paying less than careful attention to his car's speed. Clocked, pulled over, and taken to task for this momentary lapse by a member of the Swansea, Massachusetts constabulary, he was informed that he was traveling at ten miles over the posted limit. Not one to plead, beg, cry, or grovel when clearly in the wrong, your chastened citizen acknowledged his transgression to the officer, accepted his fate and waited patiently in his car while the lawman ran a routine check of his driver's license and registration.

Then things changed. The policeperson, accompanied by another of his uniformed brethren summoned to assist in the arrest: ordered the Rhode Island resident from his car; informed him he was a fugitive from Massachusetts justice for, in the words of his captor, "Allegedly evading a highway toll;" cuffed his hands behind his back; and placed him in the restraint cage of the police cruiser.

Expressing his bewilderment and growing outrage regarding this alarming turn of events, he asked the officer why he was being handled like an untrustworthy animal. The officer politely noted that, "Everyone is treated exactly the same." As an aside, this leads one to wonder if a woman with an infant would also be handled in the same fashion for a similar offense.

With his chin resting on his knees due to the close quarters of the cruiser's cage, he was taken to the basement of the...

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