Sunday, January 13, 2013

What Was She Thinking?

Looking at the title of this post, you probably assumed I was referring to my teenage daughter. Right? After all, that thought "What was she thinking?" does cross my mind sometimes. But, no. This time I'm writing about someone older, someone educated, someone in a position of responsibility. An adult, and a mother no less.

No, I'm not talking about myself either. (Very funny.)

I'm wondering about the "prominent Massachusetts lawyer" who had a New Year's Eve party for her teen daughter and friends and served them alcohol. Oh boy.

The mother, Tracy Miner, is considered the top white collar attorney in Boston. She is best known for representing the Kerrigan family when the Olympic skater Nancy's brother was accused of manslaughter in the death of their father. She also represented former FBI agent John Connelly who had been implicated in the "Whitey" Bulger case. One must assume — and hope for her sake — she knows other good lawyers.

Because she's gonna need one.

Shortly after midnight early New Year's morning, the police in Scituate, a lovely little coastal town south of Boston, received an anonymous call that there was an unconscious young man at a party. Upon arrival, the officers ran into a stream of teenagers fleeing the scene. Although doors were locked, one first responder spotted the boy slumped in a chair and was able to get inside to aid him. There were still a handful of teens in the house along with Miner who was in her bedroom upstairs.

The attorney explained that she was throwing a party for her daughter and had taken the car keys of the guests. In addition to alcohol (and pizza — gasp!), the police found marijuana. The boy was taken away by paramedics and Miner, her daughter and six additional teens received summonses.

I repeat, oh boy.

In case you've been asleep since the Reagan era, the legal drinking age in Massachusetts is 21. So, here's what's in store for the teens. If they are convicted as minors in possession of alcohol, they will be fined rather than face jail time. However, their driver's licenses will be suspended for 90 days and their insurance premiums will no doubt go up. And, as far as the dreaded "permanent record," is concerned, a criminal conviction is not going to go away any time soon.

Hopefully, Ms. Miner knows more than one good lawyer.

As for her own part in this, the state's "Social Host Law" prohibits furnishing minors with alcohol. Miner faces a fine, a year in prison or both. One can only assume that this lapse in judgement will affect her professionally. Perhaps end her career. Isn't she honor bound to uphold the laws of the state in which she practices?

So, I return to my earlier question. Exactly what was she thinking?

Perhaps Ms. Miner views the current drinking laws as unfair and she was protesting them, much as our nation's founding fathers (and mothers) did two hundred plus years ago under unfair foreign rule. Maybe she believed that her wanton disregard of the law was actually her moral obligation.

I sincerely doubt it.

Here's what I think, as the mother of teen myself. I think that Ms. Miner took the easy road that night. She weighed her popularity with her daughter and her responsibility as a parent/grownup/lawyer ... and found in favor of the former. She wanted to be her daughter's friend first and mother second. Rather than think about consequences and life lessons, she made one extremely stupid short-term decision.

Sadly, that decision will have long-term effects. 

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