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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Highlights of US Open Tennis Match-- Assault in the Stands?

I certainly did not expect that watching highlights of US Open tennis match this week would remind me of a day in Mecklenburg County District Court or a night of amateur UFC . During the Novak Djokovic and Philip Petschner match, an unruly spectator was reported to be swearing loudly and being obnoxious. No one wants to pay the pricey ticket for a sporting event and then be forced to sit behind the drunk idiot. The video shows one older gentleman and his daughter had enough. The beginning of the video shows the woman slap the out of line spectator. Argument ensues, spectator continues to be obnoxious, and then you see older man confront the spectator. You can't see his feet, but it appears he may have kicked something- could be the spectator's beer for all we know.

Another day in Mecklenburg District Court- you see these types of facts in assault, simple affray, assault with a deadly weapon, and drunk and disorderly cases. The daughter clearly was first to hit the spectator. Should she be held criminally responsible for assault and battery by a criminal court? Should she be punished? Or, did she do something that everyone else wanted to do? Applause broke out after she slapped him. The spectator laughs and claps his hands muttering something like "I can take ... of those".

The commentary on the internet proves the exact reason why this type of case needs to go in front of a jury. Just reading the disagreement about this case on popular legal blogs reminds me of the language I would use when I was a District Attorney for rejecting a case- "No reasonable likelihood of success of conviction at trial."   Jonathan Turley has no sympathy for the spectator calling it the most obnoxious event at the Open since John McEnroe played singles. Simple Justice called his opinion an embrace of violence stating the women had no right to slap the spectator. A jury, not a judge, needs to hear this case. 12 members of the community will hardly agree on this one- TMZ titled the post US Open Fight- Who's at Fault?!  Meanwhile, the US Open will ban all three individuals from attending the Open for two years. I doubt this case will be prosecuted by the District Attorney.

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posted by Carilyn Ibsen at


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