Judge John Payne presiding over Eastern Hampshire District Court
Normally I don't cover the plethora of cases that are adjudicated in Eastern Hamsphire District Court from towns other than Amherst.
Although on any given day I leave the courtroom shaking my head from statement of facts heard in open court concerning incidents that occur in our neighboring towns.
Take Monday for instance. While waiting for Amherst police department arrests over the weekend (4) to be arraigned, I was only half listening to the pre-trial motions, parole violations, magistrate appeals of motor vehicle tickets, etc.
But when Judge Payne changed the tenor of his voice I started paying attention.
Harry Bonatakis, age 60, stands before Judge Payne
The case concerned a plea deal of nine months probation for a 60-year-old man arrested for Assault & Battery on a young woman. Specifically he "massaged her foot" without permission in the parking lot of Big Y in South Hadley. And she had her four year old child in the car at the time.
He had come over to her as she was entering her car and started talking to her initially complimenting her vehicle but grabbing the top of the driver door preventing her from closing it.
Then he asked if she always went barefoot, to which she replied that wearing high heels at work all day caused her feet great discomfort so she took them off.
He then reached down and started massaging her bare foot saying he was a trained message therapist. She called police. He was arrested.
Judge Payne first asked why the Commonwealth was requesting 9 months probation, finding that an "odd number." The Assistant District Attorney said he originally wanted a full year but the public defender wanted six months, so they split the difference.
The public defender admitted to the Judge the incident was a "little bizarre," but chalked it up to his client "getting his signals crossed."
Shaking his head Judge Payne said sternly, "I'm not comfortable with the plea deal. I'm troubled by the facts here: 8:30 at night in a public parking lot. It's more than a little bizarre!"
Judge Payne ordered a Forensic Evaluation saying, "I want to know what's going on and if additional structure is needed for him." The case was continued until October 20.
Almost next up was one of the four Amherst police arrests, but I should have gone back to not paying attention since his case was designated a "56A" (domestic abuse). As such the incident is purged from APD logs and the Clerk Magistrate's office will refuse to give out documents relating to the case.
So all I can tell you is Christopher McMahon was arrested by APD and arraigned before Judge Payne for a 56A allegation. His case too was continued until next month.
Christopher McMahon arraigned before Judge John Payne