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Lawyer Shreds Murder Case File to Free Defendant

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on November 10, 2010 9:42 AM

Sometimes, even lawyers get confused about the law. Take Lynn, Mass. lawyer who thought that if he destroyed a case file, somehow the case against the defendant would not proceed. Ilya Ablavsky was arraigned this week on charges of tampering with a record, document, or other object for use in an official proceeding and for larceny under $250.

The reports of his motivation are confusing, but what is certain is the allegation that Ablavsky arrived at the courthouse on Wednesday, November 3, obtained a court file from the Salem Superior Court Clerk and shredded it, according to The Boston Globe. The file contained court documents relating to the murder case against Jose Cabrera, accused of a gang-related murder which took place last Halloween.

In trying to sort out a possible motivation, The Globe reports that Cabrera's defense attorney was contacted by Ablavsky, who claimed he was an acquaintance of Cabrera's cousin. Others have told the paper that Ablavsky had attempted to represent Cabrera's brother Miguel, also a defendant, facing weapons charges. The Globe reports that Miguel's lawyer, attorney Gary Zerola of Boston, said Ablavsky tried to appear on behalf of his client before Zerola arrived at the courthouse. Zerola called Ablavsky's alleged actions "bizarre.''

Possible psychiatric issues notwithstanding, it is unusual for an attorney to believe that he could aid a criminal defendant merely by destroying his case file. Certainly, the need to replace documents could slow the process down, but not end it. According to The Salem News, Ablavsky believed that if he destroyed the original criminal indictment (found in the file along with lists of evidence, orders on pre-trial motions, etc.) the court would not be able to try the case. This is not correct. Prosecutors have backed-up digital versions of many documents on computers.

The Salem News reports Ilya Ablavsky did not seem to be completely rational during his arraignment. Despite his recent actions, however, according to the report, his license to practice law remains active. He is attempting to represent himself.

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